The CrossFit Games Open: Let Go of the Leaderboard

The CrossFit Games Open: Let Go of the Leaderboard

In the past few years there have been many changes to the open division of the crossfit games. In 2015, it was announced that all competitors would compete against each other in a single elimination bracket. The winner would earn $10,000 and a spot at next year’s world championships in Texas. There were some concerns about how this would affect the competition.

Some thought that it might be too much of a disadvantage to the athletes who had not trained as hard or competed under less favorable circumstances. Others felt that if they could just train harder and get lucky, then they could win regardless of their opponent’s skill level.

As far as I am concerned, these are both valid points and I think they need to be addressed before moving forward with any major change to the format of the game.

I believe that the best way to address them is through a series of experiments. I propose that we do two things: 1) We take away the leaderboard from the top competitor and replace it with a ranking system based on overall performance; 2) We eliminate all of the individual events altogether and instead use a point system to determine which athlete will move up or down in rank.

In the first experiment, we remove the leaderboard from all but the top eight (currently top twenty) competitors in each division. This would give them more of a chance to catch up or fall behind other competitors during open workouts. To be clear, we are not changing the amount of people who make it to regionals and we are also not changing the way that regionals is decided. We are simply changing what happens after regionals.

This may also serve to make the top competitors feel a little less pressure and encourage them to have more fun with the open.

Experiment two is a little more complicated. We are proposing that we do away with the events completely and just rank the competitors based on how they place in each workout. I should mention that this is not without precedent. The CrossFit board games (The Games and The CrossFit Liftoff) utilize a similar ranking system when determining match-ups.

I believe that these experiments could help to level the playing field in both the long and short term. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter.


The CrossFit Games Open: Let Go of the Leaderboard - GYM FIT WORKOUT


P.S. I’ve included a few charts to help visualize what I am talking about.

A) Shows how the open would currently work if we kept the leaderboard and what would change if we switched to a regional ranking system.

B) Shows how the Crossfit board game works as well as how the new proposed experiment would work.

In 2015, the CrossFit Games introduced a single elimination bracket for the online competition. (A) In this system, an athlete begins at the top of the board with twenty other competitors. After each week, they get paired up against another competitor and whoever wins moves one step down while the loser is eliminated entirely. (B) In this new proposed system, athletes still begin with twenty others at the top of the board.

However, instead of getting paired up against each other, they are now assigned a (seemingly random) point value based on their rank. At the beginning of each week, an athlete and an opponent are randomly selected based on these point values. The higher value goes first and the lower value gets one chance to beat the higher value or they both get eliminated and restart at the top of the board the following week.

C) Shows what a typical week might look like in this proposed system. In the first week, the highest ranked athlete (red line) is pitted against the lowest (cyan line). The cyan line always gets one chance to beat the red line. If they succeed, they both start at the bottom of the board and have to battle their way back to the top.

If they fail, they get eliminated entirely and the red line continues on to the next week. In this example, the red line wins and both move on to the next week where they will face a new opponent.

D) Shows what happens in a tie situation in this system. In this case, both lines have earned the same point value (for this example, 50). In the first week, both the red line and the purple line get to battle it out based on their score. Whoever loses gets eliminated and whoever wins continues on to the bottom of the board.

Since the purple line beat the red line, they both start at the bottom of the board and have to battle their way back to the top. If this were week two, however, it would be the purple line’s turn to face elimination since the red line would’ve had a chance to go last week.

What do you think? Do you like this idea? Hate it?

I’m really interested in your thoughts on this or any other alternative that you think might be better. Let me know! And thanks for taking the time to read all this.


P.S. I was thinking of giving some sort of prize to whoever helps come up with the best solution. If you have any ideas on what that could be let me know!

The CrossFit Games Open: Let Go of the Leaderboard - at GYMFITWORKOUT

P.P.S. My apologies for this ending on a down note but my coffee had gone cold a few minutes ago and I need to get more even though I don’t really want to leave my desk right now…

An update from Lane:

Here is that update I mentioned a couple weeks ago. Apologies for the delay in getting it posted, as usual I got sidetracked by life and had trouble finding time to write this but here it is!

This post is the results of that survey. A lot of people responded and I got a lot of great feedback and suggestions; I think we have a really good idea of what most people would like to see happen from here.

As a quick reminder, the proposed options were:

Keep Posting: This is the current system where athletes can continue to post updates and information about their training throughout the competitive season.

Most people who filled out the survey (56%) favored this option.

The only changes that will be made from the current system are:

A single document with all updates on all athletes will be posted once every two weeks (to reduce the workload on Lane and give more time for him to gather information between posts).

These posts will still end when Regionals start and then a new series of documents will start up for the remainder of the season after Regionals are over.

After much thought and discussion with others, I have decided to go ahead with this plan. I still want to get all the information about the entire season in the reddit post but it’s important that I don’t just post everything at once and overwhelm people; this is probably the single most requested thing from people so I think it makes sense to do this.

The CrossFit Games Open: Let Go of the Leaderboard - GymFitWorkout

I’m hoping to get the first of these new series of posts up in a couple weeks (or less) after regionals are over; that way athletes will still have a chance to post something before the cutoff.

I really want to thank all of you who filled out the survey because it allowed me to get a really good idea of what most people want.

Thanks again,

Also just as an addendum, if anyone has any other questions feel free to post them here or send me a message and I’ll try respond to anything that comes up.

Also also, a big thanks to everyone who helps promote these documents to other people, it really helps a lot and is greatly appreciated.

Sources & references used in this article:

Bubble by MH Smith, G Smith – Bubble, Where’s the Housing, 2006 –

Gender Bias in Sports Commentary: the CrossFit Games by J Carlsson – 2019 –

Predictors of CrossFit Open Performance by GT Mangine, JE Tankersley, JM McDougle… – Sports, 2020 –

Back to Basics: Taking Care of Your Psychological Self by A Belger –

CrossFit (Cult) ure: a Rhetorical Analysis of Symbolic Convergence Through Digital Media by MK DeChristopher – 2019 –

We are NOT Superheroes. Saddle Up and Prioritize! by A Belger –

First: What it takes to win by R Froning – 2013 –

‘The Fittest on Earth’: Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs Use Within UK CrossFit Communities by KJD Mulrooney, K van de Ven – Deviant Leisure, 2019 – Springer