The countdown is on for the inaugural strongman contest at the 2021 Rogue Invitational. Ten of the world’s top strongmen will compete on Oct. 29-30, 2021, at the Dell Diamond stadium in Round Rock, TX, for the largest prize purse in strongman competition history. The event features the highly anticipated returns of 2019 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Martins Licis and former American log lift record holder Rob Kearney. The RI is also the second contest back for two-time WSM runner-up Mateusz Kieliskowski, since suffering injuries.
The winner of the 2021 Rogue Invitational strongman contest is set to receive $130,814 at the time of this article’s publication (prizes scale with ticket sales). With some of the most consistent strongmen of all time and four different WSM champions competing in Texas, here is everything you need to know about them.
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2021 Rogue Invitational — Strongman Roster
- Brian Shaw
- Tom Stoltman
- Luke Stoltman
- Martins Licis
- Mateusz Kieliszkowski
- Robert Kearney
- JF Caron
- Mikhail Shivlyakov
- Jerry Pritchett
- Oleksii Novikov
Altogether, the 10 strongmen on the official roster for the event have seven World’s Strongest Man (WSM) titles (Shaw has four, Novikov, Tom Stoltman, and Licis each have one), three World’s Ultimate Strongman (WUS) titles (Novikov has two, Kieliszkowski has one), and hold a plethora of records.
Strongman World Records
- Keg Toss — (7.75 meters), 2021 WSM — Brian Shaw
- Car Deadlift for Reps — 365 kilograms (804.7 pounds), 20 reps — Brian Shaw
- Atlas Stones — 286 kilograms (630.5 pounds), WUS “Feats of Strength” — Tom Stoltman
- Atlas Stones — Five Stones (16.01 seconds), 202o Britain’s Strongest Man — Tom Stoltman
- Cyr Dumbbell — 145.2 kilograms (320 pounds), 2020 Arnold Strongman Classic — Mateusz Kieliszkowski
- Timber Carry — 392.4 kilograms (685.1 pounds), 35 feet, seven seconds, 2020 Arnold Strongman Classic — Mateusz Kieliszkowski
- Log Lift for Reps — 180 kilograms (396.8 pounds), five reps, 2019 Arnold Europe — Mateusz Kieliszkowski
- Heavy Dumbbell for Reps — 100 kilograms (220.5 pounds), 11 reps in 75 seconds, WUS “Feats of Strength” — Oleksii Novikov
- Frame Carry — 400 kilograms (881.9 pounds), 18 meters in 7.35 seconds, 2021 Arnold UK — Oleksii Novikov
- Hummer Tire Deadlift — 545 kilograms (1,202 pounds), 2020 Shaw Classic — JF Caron
- Tire Flip — 612.4 kilograms, four flips in five minutes, 2016 Arnold Strongman Classic — JF Caron
- Steinborn Squat — 256.3 kilograms (565 pounds), 2019 Rogue Record Breakers — Martins Licis
- Masters Deadlift — 436 kilograms (961.2 pounds), WUS “Feats of Strength” — Mikhail Shivlyakov
- Super Yoke — 500 kilograms (1,102.3 pounds), 2019 Arnold Australia — Rob Kearney
Additionally, Luke Stoltman holds the British log lift record of 221 kilograms (487.2 pounds).
Strongmen To Watch at the 2021 Rogue Invitational
Here are the strongmen to keep an eye out for come the competition on Halloween weekend.
2020 WSM Oleksii Novikov has been on a hot streak since failing to qualify for the 2021 WSM Finals — he’s won the 2021 Strongman Classic, the 2021 WUS contest, and the 2021 WUS Strength Island competition. He’s’ also logged several podium finishes on the Giants Live Tour and a runner-up finish at the inaugural 2021 Arnold Strongman Classic UK (where he lost via tiebreaker to Evan Singleton). Novikov is often one of the smaller athletes on the field. Still, his combination of raw power and agility enables his stellar performances in contests that are predominantly medley-style events.
The 2021 Rogue Invitational features five events, four of which are not maximal lifts — the Cyr dumbbell ladder, Wheel of Pain, Yoke Carry & Overhead Log Lift medley, and Stone Over Hitching Post. Assuming Novikov can hold a mid-field finish or better in the Rogue Elephant Bar deadlift event, he should be keen to score another podium finish.
Betting against the reigning WSM champion is likely the wrong move, particularly since Tom Stoltman has continued to perform well since that win in August. Despite a positive COVID-19 test keeping him out of the 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) competition, Tom Stoltman managed a runner-up finish at the 2021 Giants Live World Tour Final. Had he not slipped in the Atlas Stone event against Singleton, Tom Stoltman would have won that event. If he brings the same gusto he brought to Sacramento, CA, for his 2021 WSM win, it’s doubtful anyone can get in Tom Stoltman’s way.
He may be the oldest man in the field at age 39, but Shaw is undoubtedly one of the strongman G.O.A.T.s and is still posting podium finishes. He was the runner-up at the 2021 WSM contest and the 2021 Shaw Classic. The man is a beacon of consistency.
He has the most consecutive WSM Finals appearances (13) — which is also the most WSM Final appearances of any strongman ever. Additionally, he has the most WSM event wins ever with 59. Shaw is always a safe pick podium finisher, and he’ll surely bring the heat with the biggest prize pool in the sport on the line.
Licis is hungry to get back into competition. Having been absent from elite strongman contests for the past two years due to various injuries, it’s unclear how Licis will stack up against the current field. However, at the 2021 WSM contest, where he was doing Facebook live-stream commentary with Nick English, he reiterated over and over how excited he is to step back onto the field of play. He has his opportunity in Round Rock and is the pinnacle of pristine technique. Judging from the training sessions he’s shared on his YouTube channel, such as eccentric deadlifts with rapper Action Bronson, dumbbell training with Novikov, and one-motioning Atlas Stones, he could make a play for the title.
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[Related: How to Watch 2021 Britain’s Strongest Man]
The Polish Titan is still a mystery coming into the Rogue Invitational. As it’s only his second contest back after recovering from his triceps injury, it isn’t clear if he’s fully shaken off all the competition rust. However, he did give Novikov a run for his money at the 2021 WUS contest and ultimately took second, so his strength is clearly there.
If Kieliszkowski is back to peak shape, he could very well make a play for the top of the podium. He will likely have to score well in the final four events as he is historically weak in the deadlift compared to the rest of the field. With only five events, there isn’t much room for error.
Can Luke Stoltman win this contest? Absolutely. He has momentum on his side coming off big wins at the 2021 ESM competition and the 2021 Giants Live World Tour Finals. The rub for the older Stoltman brother is that none of the events line up all that well with his strengths. He is arguably the strongest overhead presser in the field, but the log lift at this contest is a speed ladder as part of a medley rather than a max lift.
Similarly, the Elephant Bar deadlift and Wheel of Pain naturally favor the larger athletes like Luke’s younger brother, Tom, and Shaw. Historically speaking, the Rogue Invitational seems like a series of events not suited for Luke Stoltman’s strengths. Still, given that he is having one of the best years of his career, he could certainly score a podium finish on a good day.
Big Show in Texas
Ten strongmen competing in five events over two days for the largest prize purse in strongman history is worth the hype. The events test maximal strength and agility, and there isn’t a clear-cut front runner for the title. The biggest mysteries remain how Licis will fare in his return and if Kieliszkowski’s warm-up at the 2021 WUS prepped him to bring his A-game to Texas. Spectators will be able to watch the 2021 Rogue Invitational via the Rogue Fitness YouTube channel.
Featured image: @rogueinvitational on Instagram