Explaining the New CrossFit Worldwide Ranking System

The new CrossFit ranking system champions consistent performers, rather than flash-in-the-pan success.

On Jan. 31, 2023, CrossFit released preliminary information about the new worldwide rankings system via an article posted on its website. The following day, CrossFit’s worldwide ranking system was made public.

Unsurprisingly, the 2022 CrossFit Games winners, Justin Medeiros and Tia-Clair Toomey, sit at the top of the ranking as of Feb. 1, 2023. Patrick Vellner and Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson round out the top three for the men, while Laura Horvath and Mallory O’Brien finish it out for the women. The rankings can seen in the post below from the CrossFit Games Instagram page.

Note: These are the current rankings, and CrossFit says that “updated rankings will be published periodically throughout the year.” The current rankings only reflect athletes who qualified and registered for the 2022 Quarterfinals.

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How the 2023 CrossFit Worldwide Rankings Work

As announced by CrossFit, athletes can only accumulate points based on their performance in the four stages of the season: the CrossFit Open, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Games. Of those, only performances in the elite individual divisions for each stage count for points.

But the points aren’t just counted from the previous year; instead, a two-year window is taken into account when adding points. That means the rankings released on Feb. 1, 2023, add points from the 2021 CrossFit Open all the way to the 2022 CrossFit Games, totaling eight competitions.

Once the 2023 CrossFit Open is over, it will replace the 2021 Open as a scored event for the rankings. However, the updated rankings will not be released until after the Quarterfinals due to the short time frame between the Open and Quarterfinals.

As of this article’s publication, the worldwide rankings will be updated after scores are finalized for the 2023 Quarterfinals, after the 2023 Semifinals, and again after the 2023 Games.

“Consistency Matters”

On the heels of a lot of new information, CrossFit podcast host Chase Ingraham was joined by two key contributors to creating this new ranking system: Competition Director Adrian Bozman and Senior Manager of the Competition Team Dave Eubanks. Check it out below:

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From the beginning of the podcast, Bozman made clear that the new system rewards athletes who perform consistently well. This makes the two-year sample size so important, as it eliminates any “flash-in-the-pan” athletes, outliers, and performances.

“We have a two-year period where athletes have to be on top of their game if they want to be ranked highly, and that consistency of output is just one more measure and display of how we show these athletes are the Fittest in the world,” Bozman said.

This more closely aligns the “sport of CrossFit” with the methodology of CrossFit, which Bozman has maintained as his goal as the test programmer to find the “Fittest” in the world. He feels the new system that Eubanks and his team have created does that.

“This harkens back to some of the CrossFit methodology,” Bozman said. “Greg Glassman, in the Level 1, talks about the nature of being fit. When we start talking about health — health is one of those things where it’s not okay just to be fit for one snapshot in time. You have to maintain it over the age, the days, the months, the years, etc. So this is getting us closer to that.”

What Is the System?

New this year is a system that allows CrossFit to use two metrics (worldwide ranking and “strength of field”) to determine how the eventual qualifying spots to the CrossFit Games will be distributed. Eubanks explained:

The worldwide rankings are the foundation upon which the system was built.

The system — and, more specifically, the rankings — will dictate who is invited to the Games through the additional spots given to their region based on strength of field. 

Open and Quarterfinals Point Totals

Points for the CrossFit Open and Quarterfinals will be awarded based on an athlete’s worldwide percentile finish. The only exception will be the champions, who each get 1,000 points for winning the Open and 2,000 points for winning the worldwide Quarterfinals. Everyone else’s points are determined based on their percentile finish and then multiplied by 10 for the Open and 20 for the Quarterfinals.

So if an athlete places in the 97th percentile in the Open, they earn 970 points. If that same athlete finishes in the 98th percentile of their Quarterfinal, they get 1,960 points. Those two numbers are then added together, and their combined points determine their ranking compared to other athletes in their respective divisions after Quarterfinals.

Semifinals and CrossFit Games Point Totals

Once the season progresses to in-person events, which include the Semifinals and the Games, points are earned based on “rank-order finish.” Each placement on the leaderboard at each competition earns a different number of points. The top male and female in each Semifinal earn 4,000 points. The remaining athletes have different point-earning opportunities depending on their Semifinal. Each Semifinal will have a points table based on two factors: the size of the field and the final number of Games-qualifying positions.

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Qualifying for the CrossFit Games creates the largest points-earning opportunity for an athlete during the season and winning the title of Fittest on Earth® awards 10,000 points. Bozman found this important because it guarantees that the winner of the Games will have more points than anyone else for that competitive season, even if another athlete outperformed the eventual Games champion at each of the previous three stages of competition.

What Is “Strength of Field”?

As Bozman stated, this system exists to recognize athletes for their consistency during the two-year period of measurement. But it also, and perhaps more importantly, exists because of the role the rankings play when determining the strength of field.

After the minimum number of Games spots are allocated to each Semifinal, there will still be 17 spots available for both men and women. Those spots then get distributed based on strength of field. According to the podcast, CrossFit plans to release an explanation of how the ranking system contributes to determining the strength of field the week of Feb. 6, 2023. Eubanks and Bozman will again join Ingraham on the podcast to give the details.

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Written by: Brian Friend and Patrick Clark

Featured Image: Patrick Clark