Something unbelievable is happening, and in one way or another you need to be a part of it. December 15 – 17 are the crucial dates for the future of strongman. The Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina will host The Official Strongman Games, something fans and athletes have been anticipating for over ten years. Over three days, the best weight classed men (sans heavies), women, and masters will be vying for the title of World’s Strongest. Additionally, the open weight men will be competing for a Giant’s Live title and invite to the World’s Strongest Man contest for 2018!
Promoter Lynn Morehouse has assembled the greatest collection of strongman athletes ever through a unique qualification system. While many pros received automatic invites, the “Average Joe” competitor had the chance to qualify through a video submission system. Other sports have used this system with much success over the last ten years, and it is a welcome way to cut expenses for already cash-strapped athletes. By proving their worth on deadlifts, log press, and farmers walk, a chance to compete for the most coveted title in strength sports was granted. This has provided a stacked field across the classes that has never been seen before.
The quality of athletes here is amazing. Nothing has come close in over 12 years of involvement with the sport. So, what to watch? Literally everything. There will not be a dull moment at this contest and all classes are represented.
Men’s Under 176 lbs
This group barely existed a few years ago and now is packed with 32 athletes from all over the globe. There have been many back and forth battles here between the Americans, but anything can happen with an international field. Based on what I’ve seen from these guys, I like Richard Stout to win by no more than a 2-3 point margin.
Men’s Under 198 lbs
Pound for pound this class is unreal. With guys pressing more than 100 pounds over body weight and pulling 3x what they weigh, for reps, you will be floored with the action in this class. I can’t predict a winner here but look for a back and forth battle between the UK and USA.
Men’s Under 231 lbs
Multiple national champs, from several countries and full of professionals, these are literally the best strength athletes on the planet when you consider speed and athleticism.
Who will win? Gregor Laniewski from Poland has a great chance, but so does Andrew Clayton from Jacksonville, FL. Keep your eyes on everyone as you will see amazing performances here, especially with the stakes so high.
Women’s Under 140 lbs
Lean, fast, relentless, and fierce is the best way to describe these athletes. Most of these women will shame the average gym bro when it comes to max poundages, and are lighter to boot. Who can win here? Who knows? Kite, Pyron, Hoffeins, and Yuhas will all be there and that’s just the USA. Because this class is so tight, expect points to be at a premium here with your winner making the fewest mistakes.
Women’s Under 180 lbs
Who is looking to upset 2017 Arnold Champion Liefia Ingalls?
Just 29 other athletes (who like the men’s middleweight class) are the most exciting athletes to watch in the sport. This will be a battle to the very end. If Liefia can win this title, it will be another first for her and the sport: the first woman to hold both major titles.
This is the showdown fans have been clamoring for. Who really is the champion? Donna Moore, Kristen Rhodes, and Olga Liashcuk are on everyone’s radar but Samantha Coleman has now entered, throwing a wrench in the monkeyworks. It can be won by any one of those four and will be considered one of the top three strongest women of all time.
I had considered entering this class myself; that is until I saw the stacked list of athletes. Nick Best, Vitas Blekaitis, and Clint Darden are legends of the sport, and then throw BIG Z in the mix and everyone is looking to finish second. This field is more exciting than almost any other contest we’ve seen in the last few years. It’s going to be great fun to watch grandfather aged men, making short work of massive weights.
A 500 pound yoke? A 300 pound stone? Yes! Over 40 years old. Again, yes. A class that didn’t even exist in the past now has 21 entries and promises to be as exciting as all the others. If you are looking for inspiration and competitors who battle purely for the love of the sport, this is it.
Thirty-two of the best unrestricted weight athletes will be looking to get past this gatekeeper for an invite to 2018 World’s Strongest Man. With a Jeep being deadlifted for reps, be prepared to see double digits happen here. Keep your eyes on USA’s Wes Claborn to make a podium appearance and possibly his first major win.
This massive event is what fans have been asking for since the internet brought the sport to our desktops and now you can help support this amazing event by doing one of two very important things. The details have not been released yet but you can order the live stream and have all the action on your phone all weekend. But better yet, you can attend. Make it one day or all three and see the action live. Without fans, this sport will never reach its potential. Get excited, get some tickets and get in the car! I will see you there!
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Featured image: @liefiasaurus