The first mystery of the 2022 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) has been solved. The WSM promoters announced the groups of athletes who will face off from May 24-29, 2022, in Sacramento, CA, to determine who makes it to the Finals for a chance to with the 2022 WSM title. The Qualifying rounds will occur on May 24-26, and the Finals will occur on May 28-29 — there is a rest day in between.
Liz and Laurence Shahlaei revealed the groups in a video published on their YouTube channel on May 21, 2022. Check it out in its entirety below:
[Related: Indian Wrestling Legend & Strongman Gama Pehlwan Featured in Google Doodle]
2022 World’s Strongest Man Qualifying Groups
As for the groups, they are set up as follows in alphabetical order.
Group 1 features the defending WSM, Tom Stoltman. He will face a combination of veterans and rising stars. Many fans and experts expect him to come out of this lineup with one of the two spots for the Finals.
The other spot is wide open, and any of the other five contestants could be one of the 10 finalists come Thursday, May 27th. Faires and Smaukstelis have the most recent experience on the WSM stage and competed in the 100-plus degree Sacramento heat in 2021, which might give them a leg up on O’Dwyer, Angulo, and Rheaume.
This group also features a blend of strongman’s past and present. Four-time WSM winner Brian Shaw is joined by Mark Felix — making his 17th appearance in this contest — and Georgia’s own Konstantine Janashia. It also features rising stars Gabriel Peña, Bobby Thompson, and Mitchell Hooper.
If Shaw hopes to win his record-tying fifth title, he can’t leave anything on the competition floor in Sacramento because all of these athletes are capable of making the Final. Shaw holds the record for most consecutive Finals appearances at WSM with 13 and 2022 will likely be his 14th. However, his grouping will not make that an easy feat.
Some people may assume that the 2020 World’s Strongest Man has this group secured. Still, Novikov missed the cut for the final in the 2021 contest after having a lower tiebreaker against Faires in a tightly contested group won by Bobby Thomspon. The other men in this field can use that as motivation.
However, Novikov will likely use that as motivation as well. He is coming off a victory at the 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man contest, and a runner-up finish at the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic despite also fighting on behalf of his home country of Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
The first name that jumps out in this group is Licis, who recently has been on a hot streak. He won the 2021 Rogue Invitational and the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic contests. Both of those competitions included several of the same men who will be in Sacramento. Nothing should be preconceived, but Licis has a lot of confidence going into the 2022 WSM, and it is well earned. It will be no surprise if he locks up the top spot for this group.
Canadian fans will be rooting for Boudreault, who finished in third place at the 2021 WSM, to take the other spot. That said, anything can happen. If he is off the mark in any event, one of the other four men will be ready to move past him. Keep eyes on Kordiyaka as a potential dark horse to pull off an upset in the Stone-Off.
View this post on Instagram
[Related: How to Watch the 2022 World’s Strongest Man — Behind-the-Scenes Coverage and Results]
This is the only group that doesn’t feature a past WSM winner, but it does feature a former Europe’s Strongest Man winner in Luke Stoltman. The other notable name that pops out is Singleton. He won the 2021 Arnold Strongman UK contest and the 2021 Giants Live Strongman World Open contests. He is comfortable on international stages, and he’s ready to prove he belongs on the biggest one of all.
We’ll see if Singleton adjusted his training to improve his performance in multiple-day-long contests, as he usually excels in single-day competitions. Melsted is no stranger to the WSM stage and could earn his way to the Finals via the Stone-Off. There is a reasonable argument to suggest any of the athletes in the group could claim a spot in the Final, so as was the case in 2021, Group 5 will likely be a heater of a group to watch.
Featured Image: @tomstoltmanofficial