Author’s Note: This post contains spoilers for the 2017 World’s Strongest Man, but all results are unofficial until announced by the World’s Strongest Man or WME-IMG.
Not without controversy, Eddie Hall has been (unofficially) proclaimed the 2017 World’s Strongest Man. And while his win was a surprise, fans should not be completely flabbergasted.
When I made my WSM 2017 predictions, I knew Eddie Hall had his best chance at winning the title this year more than any other. The many events favoring static strength were the clue. Nevertheless, I did not expect him to pull it off over reigning champ Brian Shaw and perennial challenger Hafthor Julius Bjornsson.
So how did he do it?
Let us analyze where points were earned and lost at this year’s World’s Strongest Man.
As I expected, Brian Shaw won the first event, the Tire Flip. This held a game Hafthor Bjornsson to second place.
Eddie Hall, on the other hand, had his worst performance of the contest, finishing fifth.
Shaw – 10
Thor – 9
Hall – 6
“The Beast” wouldn’t know it yet, but it was in the second event of the contest, the Squat Lift for reps, that he would make the best inroad toward his all-out victory.
I guessed that Hall would take second place in the squat, losing only Brian Shaw. Instead, he won outright, with a two-rep edge… over four other contenders.
A freshly recovered Zydrunas Savickas wasn’t supposed to fare so well in the squat, and had only returned to training with “normal weights” a few weeks prior to the event… but he scored an impressive thirteen reps, the same as Brian Shaw.
He wasn’t the only one.
Martins Licis and Jean-Francois Caron also came up with thirteen reps. And so, there resulted a four-way tie for second place in the Squat Lift – very bad news for Brian Shaw’s title defense.
The WSM scoring system does not favor those athletes who wind up tying each other. Each athlete is docked 0.5 points for every other athlete he ties with. So, whereas Eddie Hall earned his full 10pts for first place, Brian Shaw gave up 1.5pts, coming up with 7.5 instead of the usual 9.
Hafthor Bjornsson’s twelve reps were matched by Laurence Shahlaei, and because five athletes were ahead of them, they each lost 0.5pts off the 5pt allotment for sixth-place.
Shaw – 17.5
Hall – 16
Thor – 13.5
Next, was the Viking Press, where I was sure Big Z would shine. But ironically, it was here in his best event that his time off from injury reared its ugly head. Well, if not Z, than Thor, certainly!
Despite an impressive effort, Hafthor Bjornsson’s fifteenth rep – one which would reduce Eddie Hall’s score by 0.5 and improve his by the same – would not be counted.
In Thor’s video, you can hear the referee shouting that he was “double-dipping the knees” on his final rep. Many viewers, especially Thor himself, are not in agreement. Even without a double-dip, however, Thor’s knees indeed remained bent much longer than contest form requires. As any professional boxer will tell you, never leave your fate in the hands of judges.
Shaw finished in third.
Hall – 26
Shaw – 25.5
Thor – 22.5
Day Two kicked off with the Plane Pull, an event Thor was supposed to dominate. But that pesky rookie Mateusz Kieliszkowski, in only his second WSM Finals appearance, defied expectations.
Last year, Kieliszkowski won the Frame Carry. This year, the Plane Pull was his. And with his victory, Hafthor Julius Bjornsson lost another crucial point.
Perhaps equally as detrimental to the field of Eddie Hall’s foes was the fact that Brian Shaw finished way back in fifth place, two points behind The Beast (in third). Perhaps this unexpectedly bad pull was an early sign of pending injury for Shaw…
At the Plane Pull’s conclusion, Eddie Hall begins seeing signs of a more comfortable lead.
Hall – 34
Shaw – 31.5
Thor – 31.5
Last year, Eddie Hall and Brian Shaw tied in the Deadlift. I looked forward to another showdown.
Fans speculated that Hall would have won the Deadlift out-right if he hadn’t had injured fingers. What would mono y mono look like with both at peak health? Sadly, fans may never know.
This year, it was Brian Shaw performing through injury, with the four-time World’s Strongest Man sharing he “tore [his] hamstring badly” on his last attempt, one which he completed.
Shaw could not head up in weight to challenge Eddie Hall, and yet another second-place tie would reduce his and Thor’s score even further.
Hall – 44
Shaw – 40
Thor – 40
Finally, and as always, the Atlas Stones would close the event.
Hafthor Bjornsson, ever the master, crushed the stones for ten big ones.
Brian Shaw, incredibly, with a torn hamstring, took second place. (It is a feat that makes a strong argument that he could have defeated Thor had he not torn his hamstring.)
Eddie Hall, behind Martin Licis, sealed the deal with a fourth-place finish.
Hall – 51
Thor – 50
Shaw – 49
Summary – How Did Eddie Hall Win?
The strongmen at the 2017 WSM were so uniformly impressive that, inevitably, fans were treated to many point-reducing ties. By winning several events out-right, Eddie Hall avoided getting caught in the point grinder.
Brian Shaw’s injured hamstring surely held him back, but avoiding injury is a component of strongman. He will live to lift another day.
Zydrunas Savickas did his very best to play spoiler where he could. Having spent last year away from the major strongman competitions, he still showed up ready to compete ferociously.
Young athletes are still packing on muscle mass. Martin Licis finished in fourth overall. Mateusz Kieliszkowski upset Hafthor Bjornsson by winning the Plane Pull.
Thor also learned a valuable lesson about how strictly form will be scrutinized at the WSM competitions to come.
Ultimately, however, Eddie Hall won the 2017 World’s Strongest Man because he is insanely strong and trained like hell to win it. Congratulations, sir.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein 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.
Featured image: @eddie_hall_strong on Instagram