2022 Rogue Invitational CrossFit Men’s Predictions

This may be the most star-studded CrossFit men's field the Rogue Invitational has seen.

The 2022 Rogue Invitational is fast approaching. It will take place in Round Rock, TX at Dell Diamond on October 28-30, featuring everything from high-level strongman to CrossFit events.

The men’s field in the CrossFit competition will be a classic battle royale featuring 14 of the top 15 male athletes from this summer’s 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games. Fans will also be treated to performances from a handful of impressive athletes who earned their way to Texas through the “Q” (Rogue’s online qualifier). 

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With the competition around the corner, it’s time to start slotting in our predictions. We’ve already brought you our predictions about the CrossFit women’s competition — today, it’s about the men’s field. So, let’s get to the predictions. 

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

1st: Justin Medeiros

  • Age: 23 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 3rd / QF: 1st / SF: 1st / Games: 1st
  • Past Rogue Placements: 1st in 2021 

He’s the two-time defending Fittest Man on Earth®, with consistency rather than dominance being his recipe for success at the past two CrossFit Games. In 2021, that consistency helped Medeiros take home the Rogue Invitational win, as well.

He managed to win only one of the seven events at Rogue last year, but more impressively, had nothing worse than a fifth-place finish. If anyone is going to beat him, they will need to demonstrate the same high level of consistent excellence with no holes. They’ll also need the ability to edge him out at the end of a workout or two, something Medeiros has regularly been doing to his closest challengers these last two seasons.

2nd: Roman Khrennikov

  • Age: 27 years old
  • Country: Russian Federation
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 138th / QF: 12th / SF: 1st / Games: 2nd
  • Past Rogue Placements: N/A

Khrennikov (along with Ricky Garard) are as high profile of a Rogue rookie as you can get at a competition like this. His performance this past summer at the Games was more than befitting the reigning second Fittest Man on Earth®. Khrennikov also quickly became a crowd favorite, having just met his newborn son for the first time, and he put up great performance after great performance.

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A couple strategic and execution errors ultimately left Khrennikov just behind Medeiros. If he wants a chance to beat him, he won’t be able to afford any errors in a competition with about half as many events. 

3rd: Patrick Vellner

  • Age: 32 years old
  • Country: Canada
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 69th / QF: 10th / SF: 2nd / Games: 6th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 2nd in 2021 / 1st in 2020 / 2nd in 2019 

Vellner has an incredible track record at Rogue. In his three years competing there, he’s only ever lost to five-time Fittest Man on Earth® Mat Fraser (2019) and Medeiros (2021). Although he’s coming off a relatively bad performance at the Games in terms of overall finish, what he actually did in terms of event finishes wasn’t too far off his normal; the men’s field has simply improved.

If he were to take third at Rogue, it would be his worst ever finish there. But given the list of athletes in this field, even taking third is a challenge worth rising to.

4th: Jeffrey Adler

  • Age: 28 years old
  • Country: Canada
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 12th / QF: 3rd / SF: 1st / Games: 5th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 3rd in 2021

Adler has four event wins in his four-year CrossFit Games career. They all came on weightlifting tests. While it is incredible to behold his strength and technical prowess with a barbell, his 16th place on the Sandbag Ladder in the 2022 Games may be cause for concern for Adler.

If Rogue decides to test strength using an odd or strongman-style object rather than a barbell, Adler may have to fight for a strength-based victory. His overall fitness is also excellent Adler earned third at Rogue last year, fourth in Dubai in 2021, and 5th at the 2022 Games). But if it’s not a barbell that’s used to test strength, it might be difficult to get back on the podium.

5th: Jayson Hopper

  • Age: 24 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: th / QF: 33rd / SF: 2nd / Games: 7th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 7th in 2021

If we take a look at what to expect from Rogue’s programming based on prior years and combine that with Hopper’s best performances from the Games this past summer, it’s clear that he has a lot of potential this year at Rogue.

At the 2022 Games, Hopper earned second on the Echo Press. That’s significant because the Invitational is likely to feature both strict handstand push-ups and the Echo bike. Hopper also performed well on the Sandbag Ladder, Shuttle to Overhead B, and The Capital, demonstrating his strength with and without a barbell and with odd objects. Since Rogue tends to test these kinds of strength, Hopper may well continue his upward trajectory here.

6th: Samuel Kwant

  • Age: 26 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open 25th / QF 13th / SF 4th / Games 4th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 2021 – 13th

Prior to the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games, Samuel Kwant had spent a season or so out of the limelight. He was coming off a season in which he had to withdraw from the 2021 Semifinals due to chronic illness. But in 2020, Kwant took the title of second Fittest Man on Earth® behind Fraser.

After the 2022 Games, Kwant has top-four finishes in his last two CrossFit Games appearances. He was in the field at Rogue last year and placed 13th, but he seems poised to improve upon that this time around. 

7th: Ricky Garard

  • Age: 28 years old
  • Country: Australia
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 26th / QF: 11th / SF: 2nd / Games: 3rd
  • Past Rogue Placements: N/A

Fresh off of his podium finish at the 2022 Games, Garard could certainly outperform this ranking. But  in general, the events he was worst at during the 2022 Games seem like the workouts we are most likely to see at Rogue.

Garard’s worst finishes at the Games were on Echo Press (28th), Jackie Pro (18th), Back Nine (13th), and Hat Trick (12th). All of these events feature components he just doesn’t excel at, but are likely to be featured at the Invitational. Garard is still very likely to even notch an event win or two, but even that might not be enough for a podium finish if there are some bad ones sprinkled in. 

8th: Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson

  • Age: 29 years old
  • Country: Iceland
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 32nd / QF: 8th / SF: 2nd / Games: 9th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 4th in 2021 / 2nd in 2020

Guðmundsson is coming off his worst Games finish (9th) since his rookie season back in 2014. He’s amongst the greatest CrossFit athletes of all time, and he’s also been quite good at Rogue. He earned fourth place last year and took home second at the 2020 Rogue Invitational.

Going back and looking through his performance at the 2022 Games, Guðmundsson had three finishes outside the top 20, which is a bit uncommon for him. That said, he has won the chipper at each of the last two Rogue Invitationals and was his usual consistent self last year otherwise. He’ll be looking to bounce back after a disappointing Games finish.

9th: Chandler Smith

  • Age: 29 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 20th / QF: 4th / SF: 11th / Games –
  • Past Rogue Placements: 8th in 2021 / 4th in 2020 / 5th in 2019

Look for Smith to have a strong showing at Rogue where he was eighth last year, fourth in 2020, and fifth back in 2019. In the 22 events he’s competed at in a Rogue Invitational in the past, he’s only been outside the top ten on three of those. Conversely, he has eight top-five finishes across the same set of workouts.

His 2022 Games season came to an end much earlier than he was hoping for, but he’s looked good in the events he’s been able to compete at since then. He took first at the CanWest Games and first in the online qualifier for this competition. So it’s probably not advisable to count him out of a top-ten finish.

10th: Lazar Đukić

  • Age: 26 years old
  • Country: Serbia
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 273rd / QF: 14th / SF: 1st / Games: 8th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 12th in 2021 

To be blunt, Rogue was not kind to Đukić last year. Yes, he took 12th, but his best finish on any individual workout was eighth. His worst rankings were a pair of 16th-place finishes. The two 16th-place finishes came on the Bella Complex and the speed elimination finale featuring snatches at 205 and a heavy sandbag-to-platform.

Đukić is undeniably very fit, finishing in the top-ten of half the workouts at the 2022 Games, including an event win on Jackie Pro. He also came in second last year at the Dubai CrossFit Championship, now called the Dubai Fitness Championship. There’s no doubt that Đukić  is getting stronger, but it remains to be seen whether he’s strong enough to do much better than 10th at Rogue this year. 

11th: Nick Mathew 

  • Age: 28 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 208th / QF: 55th / SF: 6th / Games: 4th
  • Past Rogue Placements: N/A

Mathew turned a lot of heads this summer at the Games, managing to become only the sixth rookie to win multiple events at the Games. He was in elite company, as the others to do so include Rich Froning and Brent Fikowski. Interesting, Mathew won two very different events (Skill Speed Medley and Sandbag Ladder).

Mathew is a veteran competitor in CrossFit who is just now making his debut on the big stage. He looked very comfortable as a rookie in the high-stakes environment of the Games and should be similarly confident taking the field at Rogue. Perhaps he’ll have a home run again over the course of the weekend. Otherwise, expect steady middle-of-the-pack finishes to keep him exactly there overall. 

12th: Jorge Fernandez

  • Age: 27 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 66th / QF: 22nd / SF: 1st team / Games: 3rd team
  • Past Rogue Placements: N/A

Fernandez is the only athlete in this field who competed as part of a team during the 2022 Games season. His team, CrossFit Invictus, won the Granite Games Semifinal in spectacular fashion, wining half of the events. And although his team didn’t win the Snatch Ladder, Fernandez himself snatched 290 pounds with relative ease after clearing the ladder handily.

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Invictus went on to take third at the Games, and Fernandez once again was impressive on the lifting event Strong, where he front squatted 405 pounds in his first attempt and 440 pounds in his second attempt. He also took second in the “Q” to qualify for the Invitational. It will be exciting to see where he stacks up against an elite individual men’s field.

13th: Cole Sager

  • Age: 31 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 374th / QF: 40th / SF: 3rd / Games: 13th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 11th in 2021 / 11th in 2020 / 3rd in 2019 

Sager is the third man in this field who has been at all three Rogue Invitationals (accompanied by Vellner and Smith. He’s also one of three men who have a running streak of nine consecutive qualifications for the CrossFit Games (Guðmundsson and Noah Ohlsen).

After a podium finish at Rogue in 2019, Sager has missed the top ten each of the last two years. You have to go back to 2018 to find the last time he was in the top ten at the Games, too. Though he remains a strong athlete, his average performance across events just isn’t high enough for a top-ten finish anymore. 

14th: Saxon Panchik

  • Age: 26 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 1st / QF: 7th / SF: 1st / Games: 11th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 10th in 2021 / 5th in 2020 

Panchik is one of many men in this field who took a backwards step from 2021 to 2022 in terms of overall finish at the Games. He went from 5th to 11th. He made a similar step backwards from Rogue 2020 (5th) to Rogue 2021 (10th). If he doesn’t turn it around soon, it will seem that the field has simply passed him by.

One of the younger Panchik brothers certainly has a skill set he can draw upon and thrive within. In the 2022 Games, he had an event win (Up and Over), an impressive second-place finish on Shuttle to Overhead B, and third on Shuttle to Overhead A. He can run, lift, and has capacity for high volume gymnastics. So what’s missing? Power and strength relative to the field, which is something Rogue is built upon.

15th: Noah Ohlsen

  • Age: 31 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 107th / QF: 5th / SF: 4th / Games: 12th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 3rd in 2020 / 8th in 2019 

Ohlsen’s stats do not support a ranking this low. He’s been near the top of the sport for nearly a decade, but recently it seems the top is growing more and more out of reach for him. Since threatening for the title in 2019 and ultimately taking second to Fraser, Ohlsen has had finishes of fourth (2020), 10th (2021), and 12th (2022) at the Games. Sure enough, he recently announced that 2023 will likely be his last year as an Individual competitor at the Games.

He did great the last time he competed at Rogue, earning third place in 2020. But that year was online and had a bit of a different feel. He did not attend the Rogue Invitational last year, and chose to compete on a team at Wodapalooza instead of trying to earn a third consecutive podium finish there (he was third place in both 2019 and 2020). It looks unlikely that the Games veteran will be able to put together the top event finishes needed to keep up with the rising tide of elite men in the sport. 

16th: Jonne Koski

  • Age: 27 years old
  • Country: Finland
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 19th / QF: 20th / SF: 2nd / Games: 15th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 12th in 2020 

This will be Koski’s first live appearance at Rogue after competing online and taking 12th in 2020. He has four top-ten Games finishes in his career and he’s in the prime of his career from an age perspective. Finding him this far down the projected rankings speaks to the quality of this field.

Koski had a full spectrum of finishes at his last Invitational (everything from second to a second-to-last in 2020) and is a bit of a wildcard in this field. He often rides a couple of great finishes early in the weekend to offset a couple poor performances at the Games. The same was true at Rogue in his only appearance. Look for more lows than highs against this field and a bottom half finish to go with it.

17th: Tim Paulson

  • Age: 32 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 164th / QF: 43rd / SF: 8th / LCQ: 1st / Games: 23rd
  • Past Rogue Placements: N/A

Along with the Games, this is the second massive CrossFit competition for which Paulson has qualified via the unconventional route — an online qualifier. It’s a testament to his overall fitness, which has been building its own impressive resume over the last several seasons.

Paulson is riding a streak of six consecutive CrossFit Games qualifications. Although his 23rd place finish in 2022 isn’t his career best, the field of competitors is continuing to evolve and he’s still making himself relevant. Though he pulled off an eighth-place finish at the 2022 Games in The Alpaca and took 10th in the Sandbag Ladder, he also he took a bottom-15 finish in six of the first 10 events. If that translates to five or six finishes of 15th or worse at Rogue, he will be in the bottom five even if he has one or two really solid events. 

18th: Henrik Haapalainen

  • Age: 27 years old
  • Country: Finland
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 547th / QF: 47th / SF: 2nd / Games: 24th
  • Past Rogue Placements: 17th in 2021 

Haapalainen is the latest addition to the field of competitors at Rogue, having received a late backfill invitation in place of Guilherme Malheiros (who withdrew for unknown reasons). While he’s late to the party, this will be his second consecutive appearance at Rogue. In 2021, Haapalainen struggled and was unable to notch a top-ten finish until the last event.

It’s difficult to know what to expect from Haapalainen here though, he looked excellent during the 2022 Strength in Depth Semifinal, winning two events and taking second overall. Still, he had a lackluster 2022 Games performance, in which he regressed from 18th to 24th. However, six of the sixteen men who beat him at Rogue in 2021 are not in the 2022 field. If he can fend off a majority of the newcomers, there is a chance to improve his overall finish.

19th: Scott Tetlow

  • Age: 29 years old
  • Country: United States
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 8th / QF: 93rd / SF: 11th / Games –
  • Past Rogue Placements: N/A

Tetlow is among the best online competitors who have failed to have the same success in live events. He’s on a run of three consecutive top-50 worldwide Open finishes (including 17th in 2020 to qualify for the CrossFit Games, and a career best 8th in 2022). Tetlow earned a ticket to Rogue by placing third in the “Q” and has also secured a trip to Wodapalooza later this offseason after taking 11th in their online qualifier.

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He’s been 11th each of the last two seasons at Semifinals (the Granite Games in 2021 and the Syndicate Crown in 2022). While each of those did produce an individual event win, they also came with multiple finishes outside the top 20. With these kinds of slips in event ranking, we will likely see Tetlow finishing toward the bottom of the pack.

20th: Jack Farlow

  • Age: 20 years old
  • Country: Canada
  • 2022 Season Stats: Open: 1428th / QF: 34th / SF: 9th / Games –
  • Past Rogue Placements: N/A

Farlow is the youngest and least experienced athlete in this field at twenty years old. The next youngest man is Medeiros, who is not only three years older than him, but also already has three individual podiums and two championships in the elite division to his name.

The positive things Farlow has going for him are that he’s competed on the big stage before (taking sixth place in the Boys 16-17 division at the 2019 CrossFit Games), and he’s actually quite strong. He was 28th worldwide in event The Other Total (a one-rep max bench, one-rep max clean, and one-rep max overhead squat). He had a combined lift of 1,085 pounds. This is a great opportunity for him to be in the spotlight with the best men in the sport, and the experience will be invaluable towards his future success.

A Stacked Field

The Rogue Invitational is always a spectacle, but with the rising tide that is the elite men’s division in the sport of CrossFit, it feels like we’re in store for the biggest treat yet. Look no further than Vellner and Guðmundsson , both of whom are coming off their worst Games performances, have tremendous track records at Rogue, and are possibly still getting fitter. Yet, their expected finish is lower than it’s ever been before.

Not only are there at least two and possibly three men who could win this competition. With the quality of the field, it’s pushing towards seven or eight men with legitimate podium aspirations. This is not a competition you’re going to want to miss. 

Featured Image: @blacksmifff / Instagram