The 5 Biggest Changes to the 2019 CrossFit Games Rulebook

To all of the CrossFit athletes and fans who have been eagerly waiting for the 2019 CrossFit Games Rulebook — get ready, because it’s here. This year, more than ever, the Rulebook is incredibly important, as it validates and confirms all of the speculations that have swirled around the initial changes to the 2019 CrossFit Games, the continual steady stream of Sanctional announcements, and the Games seeding style speculations.

If you’re only interested in seeing official dates for the 2019 CrossFit Open, the 15 Sanctional events, and the Games, then check out the 2019 CrossFit Games Schedule

For those who have been longing for the release of the 2019 CrossFit Games Rulebook, we tried to pull the five most important 2019 CrossFit Games Rulebook changes announced to catch you up to speed. It’s important to note that there have been many changes made to the 2019 CrossFit Open, the 15 Sanctionals, and the Games, and if you really want to read about them all — check out the 2019 CrossFit Games Rulebook.

Five Big 2019 CrossFit Games Rulebook Changes

1. Qualifying for the Games Through the Open

What’s the Same: Similar to last year, the 2019 CrossFit Open will take place in late February and extend through March. Workouts will be released on Thursdays at 5 p.m. (PST), the first being on February 21st, and athletes will then have until the following Wednesday at 5 p.m. (PST) to validate their scores. Check out the 2019 CrossFit Open schedule below!

Workout Announcement Score Validation Cutoff 
Week 1: February 21st at 5 p.m. PST Week 1: February 27th at 5 p.m. PST
Week 2: February 28th at 5 p.m. PST Week 2: March 6, at 5:00 p.m. PST
Week 3: March 7th at 5 p.m. PST Week 3: March 13, at 5:00 p.m. PST
Week 4: March 14th at 5 p.m. PST Week 4: March 20, at 5:00 p.m. PST
Week 5: March 21st at 5 p.m. PST Week 5: March 27, at 5:00 p.m. PST

What’s Different: Different from previous years, this year’s CrossFit Open is accounting for an athlete’s location. This year, when registering for the Open, athletes will be required to claim their country of residence. This is vital information because one’s location can qualify them for the 2019 CrossFit Games if they win their country’s National Championship (finish first in their country for the Open), and that’s a qualification even if they don’t finish in the top 20 in the overall leaderboard.

Stemming from that point, the top 20 placing athletes in the worldwide 2019 CrossFit Open will also receive invitations to compete at the 2019 CrossFit Games. If an athlete is in the top 20 and has also earned an invitation due to being a National Champion, then the next highest placing athlete will be backfilled for the country.

To read more on these topics visit these sections in the Rulebook: 1.07, 1.24, 4.07, and 4.08. 

2. National Champions and the CrossFit Games

What’s the Same: Nothing really.

What’s different: This year, the 2019 CrossFit Games will be sending Games invitations to athletes who finish in first place in the 2019 CrossFit Open for their country. For the 2019 CrossFit Open, there will be an overall leaderboard and a country-specific leaderboard. To be deemed a National Champion, an athlete must finish all of the prescribed Open workouts, verify their residency, and win their country’s Open.

To read more on these topics visit these sections in the Rulebook: 1.24, 1.32, and 4.02. 

3. Sanctionals Are Not Officially Connected to the Games, But They Can Qualify You

What’s the Same: Nothing

What’s Different: If you’ve been following all of the 2019 CrossFit Games announcements, then you’re probably well aware of the 15 Sanctional events that have been slowly released over the last few months. The first Sanctional event, the Dubai CrossFit Championship, took place in Mid-December and qualified Mat Fraser, Samantha Briggs, and CrossFit Invictus for the 2019 CrossFit Games.

Contrary to previous speculations, the 15 Sanctional events are not directly connected to the 2019 CrossFit Games. Although, top placing elite individual athletes and teams at Sanctional events can earn a bid to the Games by winning their division (sans the team in the Italian Showdown Sanctional, as they have no team division).

If any athlete wins a Sanctional event and receives an invitation to the Games, then they do not need to compete in the Open, but this will impact their seeding for the 2019 CrossFit Games, as this is based off 2019 CrossFit Open scores. For athletes who win a Sanctional event, but have already qualified for the Games by another means (being a National Champion or finishing in top 20 for the Open), then the next placing athlete will be backfilled for the invitation.

To read more on these topics visit these sections in the Rulebook: 3.02, 3.02, 4.05, and 4.05.

4. Seeding for the Games

What’s the Same: At previous CrossFit Games, athletes are placed in a ranking system with respect to where they place after each workout/performance. This rank dictates when these athletes take the floor and in which heat they compete, and this will most likely be the case for this year’s CrossFit Games.

What’s Different: As opposed to previous years, this year’s CrossFit Games will rank athletes into seeded positions leading up to the Games based off of their 2019 CrossFit Open scores, as opposed to making the top qualifying athletes equal to begin with like in previous years. There’s still no official word as to what this seeding means in respects to how athletes can benefit in relationship to their rank before the start of the Games. Before in a 2019 CrossFit Games report, there was mention of top seeded athletes possibly receiving a bye, but there has been nothing officially confirmed on that detail. If we had to guess (knowing Dave Castro), this will probably be an announcement that comes out after the final validations of Open scores and National Champions, or just before the Games.

From what we can tell, these rankings will run directly down the line based off of Open scores of the top 20 athletes and will then include National Champion’s scores accordingly. So if an athlete is a National Champion, but has a much lower score compared to the top 20’s scores, then their seeding will reflect where they place down the line.

To read more on these topics visit these sections in the Rulebook: 4.13. 

5. 4 At-Large CrossFit Games Bids

What’s the Same: In previous years, CrossFit, Inc. has always reserved the right to invite athletes based off of their sole discretion. An athlete and occasion where this comes to mind most is when 2010 CrossFit Games Champion Kristan Clever was invited to the 2013 CrossFit Games.

The rule in previous rulebooks looked something like this, “CrossFit Inc. reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to invite past winners, guest athletes, Teams or others, to participate in any stage of competition. This decision may be made to preserve the traditions and spirit of The CrossFit Games or for any other reason at the sole discretion of CrossFit Inc.”

What’s Different: This year, the CrossFit Games have announced that they reserve the right to invite four individual athletes to compete at the 2019 CrossFit Games. CrossFit, Inc. adds in the rulebook that these athletes can be picked solely on CrossFit, Inc.’s discretion.

Now, will four be chosen every year, or is that the cap for this rule? We’re still waiting on that answer. Also, we’re not sure if that means an athlete can be invited without performing in the Open, but it does seem that way.

To read more on these topics visit these sections in the Rulebook: 4.06. 

What We’re Still Waiting On

The rulebook has answered A LOT of our questions and speculations about the 2019 CrossFit Games format, but there are still a few unanswered questions that time will eventually tell. For starters, we’re curious how the new Open-based seeding will impact the Games format and how athletes will benefit from placing near the top of the leaderboard.

Additionally, we’re also curious about how many athletes will be allowed to compete at the 2019 CrossFit Games. Until the Open takes place and official countries with affiliates are established, it’s tough to say definitively how many athletes have the ability to qualify for the Games. Plus, that’s not accounting for Sanctional winners and their relationship to qualifying for the Games with or without performing in the Open.

Featured image from @crossfitgames Instagram page.