The 2020 Shaw Classic — Preview and Predictions

What can you expect from the new elite strongman contest?

The first-ever Shaw Classic is set to occur on Dec. 11-12, 2020, in Shaw’s home gym in Colorado. The event is named after four-time World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Brian Shaw, who is both hosting and competing in the event. On Dec. 1, 2020, Shaw took to his YouTube channel to share how people can watch the event and release an updated roster.

That roster is absolutely stacked. Each of the 10 participating athletes qualified for the 2020 WSM competition, six of whom made the Finals. Although this will be the Shaw Classic’s inaugural contest, it has the potential — both in talent and prize equity ($25,000 and counting in the pool) — to be compared to other top strongman events, such as WSM or the Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC). 

So who is likely to win the event? We decided to go through the event list — which Shaw did release, but without weights or the order that they’ll be completed — and made a couple of picks for who we think will perform best in each. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Maxime Boudreault (@max.boudreault23)

[Related: What You Need to Know About How to Increase Strength]

Shaw Classic Roster

As a reminder, here are the 10 athletes scheduled to compete in the Shaw Classic:

  • Kevin Faires (replacing Zydrunas Savickas) — 2020 WSM seventh place
  • Oleksii Novikov — 2020 WSM champion
  • JF Caron — 2020 WSM third place
  • Jerry Pritchett — 2020 WSM fourth place
  • Brian Shaw — 2020 WSM fifth place
  • Adam Bishop — 2020 WSM sixth place
  • Luke Stoltman — 2020 WSM qualified
  • Terry Hollands — 2020 WSM qualified
  • Trey Mitchell (replacing Robert Oberst)  2020 WSM qualified
  • Maxime Boudreault — 2020 WSM qualified

Note: Brian Shaw announced via his Instagram stories that Robert Oberst had to withdraw from the event due to a family emergency.

Max Log Lift

A custom log is being designed for this event, and Rogue Fitness has provided calibrated plates for the contest. Unlike the log lift ladder event that took place at the 2020 WSM — which involved lifting a series of logs of escalating weight for time — this will be a contest to see who can lift the heaviest weight. There are several standouts in the field that have historically excelled in the log lift.

Luke Stoltman

The Scottish strongman set a new British log lift record of 221 kilograms (487 pounds) on Oct. 11, 2020, during his appearance on the World’s Ultimate Strongman (WUS) “Feats of Strength” series. He is undoubtedly one of the strongest overhead pressers in the field, and even Shaw himself said he was eager to see how heavy Stoltman will go.

Jerry Pritchett

We have gotten an inside glimpse at how Pritchett, who took fourth at the 2020 WSM, trains the log lift. In the 2020 WSM log lift ladder event, Pritchett took second, losing only to Tom Stoltman, who is notoriously good in speed events. Pritchett is a threat to win any overhead event, and this one is unlikely to be any different.

Super Yoke

Shaw has previously said that the yoke would weigh somewhere around 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds). We know that Rogue Fitness gifted Shaw a pair of identical yokes to use for the event. Here’s who to keep eyes on:

Adam Bishop

2020 Britain’s Strongest Man has upped his game significantly when it comes to moving these massive frames. The 2020 WSM Finals’ opening event was a medley involving a yoke (also around 500 kilograms). Bishop paced the field to win the event. His momentum could carry over and score him some big points here.

Oleksii Novikov

The 2020 WSM champion is arguably a threat to win any event. He’s remarkably consistent across every strongman discipline. Case and point: Novikov never placed worse than fifth in any 2020 WSM Finals event. However, Novikov was bested by Bishop in the 2020 WSM yoke event by just over a second. The Ukrainian is one of the smaller strongmen in terms of stature, which has pros and cons when it comes to the yoke. Being “smaller” means there’s less distance between the yoke and the ground, so the initial lift is easier. However, it also means Novikov will take shorter strides.

Farmer’s Medley

This event, according to Shaw, will consist of three lengths (meaning the competitors will walk down, then, back, then down again). The athletes will walk two of the lengths performing farmer’s carries and one length carrying a frame. Pritchett will be a heavy hitter in this event. He took second in a similar event at the 2020 Arnold Strongman Classic, losing only to Mateusz Kieliszkowski, who blitzed a timber carry world record in seven seconds. (Kieliszkowski was going to compete in both the WSM and Shaw Classic but had to withdraw due to injury.) Here’s who else to pay attention to:

JF Caron

The nine-time Canada’s Strongest Man came in third at the 2020 WSM, his best WSM finish to date. In the 2020 ASC frame carry event, he had the best finish of anyone competing in the Shaw Classic except Pritchett. In the loading medley at the 2019 WSM contest, Caron placed better than anyone else competing in the Shaw Classic. He also won his group in the farmer’s carry event in the qualifying stage of the 2020 WSM. The Canadian is a strong, strong competitor in medley and carrying events.

Kevin Faires

Faires is the most recent addition to the Shaw Classic. He’s replacing Zydrunas Savickas, who withdrew due to injury. At the 2020 WSM, Faires won his qualifying group and posted an impressive 52 meters in the farmer’s carry event. Terry Hollands posted that same distance and deserves an honorable mention here.

Max Hummer Tire Deadlift

Shaw commissioned a barbell similar to the one used at the ASC specifically for this event. It is only the second barbell of its kind in the world. This event is functionally a partial deadlift, except there will be a series of Hummer tires acting as weights.

Oleksii Novikov

Novikov is the obvious pick to win this event, as he just set a WSM record partial deadlift of 537.5 kilograms (1,185 pounds). Novikov being a shorter athlete by comparison to the rest of the field offers a big advantage in this event.

Brian Shaw

The event’s namesake recently pulled a 494.8-kilogram (1,091-pound) partial deadlift in training and has experience deadlifting Hummer tires. Will that experience of how the tires feel on the barbell be able to make up a potential weight discrepancy? That’s not entirely clear, but add in home-field advantage, and it seems like a recipe for success. 

Circus Dumbbell for Reps

This will be a head-to-head event. Shaw revealed the dumbbells that will be used on his YouTube channel — they are identical 250 pounds mounds of steel. Once again, Novikov is the man to watch in this event. In 2020, he set a giant dumbbell for reps world record on the WUS “Feats of Strength” series when he performed 11 reps with a 220-pound dumbbell in 75 seconds. 

Considering this is still an overhead event, there are some notable standouts in the field:

Robert Oberst

Oberst is a former American log lift record holder and has said in an interview with BarBend that his best events are overhead events. Considering he missed the 2020 WSM Finals, he may feel he has something to prove, and his best chance to excel is in events like the circus dumbbell. Oberst has also trained with Shaw in his gym before, so it will not be unfamiliar territory. Had he been able to compete, he would have been someone to watch closely in this event.

It will be interesting to see how Trey Mitchell’s late addition to the roster will change the balance of who excels in which events. Mitchell is notoriously strong in the squat and has held his own when it comes to the Atlas Stones.

Maxime Boudreault

The Canadian strongman has been prepping heavily for this event. He even went so far as to share a post on his Instagram page to say specifically that he’ll “be ready.”

In the dumbbell clean & press event at the 2020 WSM — which involved a pair of dumbbells rather than a single dumbbell — Boudreault got three reps. He was bested only by Novikov and Tom Stoltman, who would go on to place first and second overall, respectively. That said, Boudreault has the fire and something to prove at the Shaw Classic, so keep a close eye on him to do well in overhead events.

Atlas Stones

The weights of the stones have not yet been released. If Tom “King of the Stones” Stoltman were on this roster, you could place an all-in bet that he would win this event and be fairly certain you’d double your money. However, with the younger Stoltman not participating, here are two competitors who could easily win this event:

Brian Shaw

Shaw is historically excellent in this event. He had the second-fastest time in the 2020 WSM Atlas Stone event (bested only by Tom Stoltman). Also, he managed to load a staggering 560-pound Atlas stone over a 48-inch bar at the 2018 ASC. 

Terry Hollands

Hollands is the oldest competitor in the field, but that doesn’t make him less dangerous in speed events. He still has the moves to post a solid time in this event. At the 2020 WSM contest, he lost the stone off in his qualifying group against Aivars Smaukstelis due to not lifting the seventh out of eight stones. However, he lifted the first six in a swift time of 33.43 seconds. If he doesn’t get rattled by the weight of the stones, this could be his event of the weekend.

Looking Ahead

Even though Shaw will be competing on home turf, this event is anybody’s game. The point breakdown for each event hasn’t been released, but if it is the same as WSM where first place gets 10 points, second gets nine points, and so on, then it will reward the strongmen who are consistent across the entire event rather than good at one or two specific disciplines. Let us know in the comments if you think Novikov will repeat his 2020 WSM performance, if Shaw will claim the title as the event’s host, or if someone else will step up and prove they are at the top of the sport.

Featured image: @max.boudreault23 on Instagram