The 2019 CrossFit Games season has been full of uncertainty from the onset.

From the inclusion of national champions, to the birth of Sanctionals, or to the fact that the season began before the rules were all known. Regardless, we are now staring down a CrossFit Games that is more uncertain than any Games in nearly a decade. Information is at a premium, but slowly CrossFit has been letting more and more be known through unpublicised means.

Without a major announcement of any kind (other than their Twitter account), the scoring system for the 2019 Games was released on July 19, less than two weeks before the start. Here’s a breakdown of how it will all play out:

 For the individual competition, there will be six cuts, the first after event one. When the others will occur is still unknown. The field will be cut down to 75, then 50, then 40, 30, 20, and finally 10 athletes, while points will be awarded for all events. The maximum number of points that can be earned in any one event will always be 100.

Athletes at the CrossFit Games this year should expect the unexpected, and not just in terms of unique events. Photo: Handout

As the field shrinks in size, the gap in points between subsequent placements increases. For example: fifth place in the first three rounds is worth 92 points, but then it goes down to 88, 84, 80, and finally 60 points when there are only 10 athletes remaining. The biggest jump is in the final cut. At that point there is a full 10-point gap between every place on the leaderboard (with 20 athletes every placement is worth 5 less points).

In a field of only 14 teams, there will be four cuts over the course of competition. The cuts will take the field from 14, to 11, then nine, seven, and finally five teams, but when those cuts will occur is unknown and points will be awarded for all events. The maximum number is always 100, but like the individuals it’s a sliding scale from there depending on the size of the field. Third place at the start of the competition earns 86 points, but as the field gets smaller it drops to 80, 76, 68, and eventually 50 points once the field is down to only five teams.

The good news is that we should be in for an exciting competition.

If you like close races and the potential for big swings down the stretch, this is a format that you’ll enjoy. It will be harder for the better athletes to create separation on the leaderboard early in the competition, and therefore more athletes will feel like they’re in with a fighting chance after the first half of the competition.

 When the field gets down to 20, and then 10, the point gaps are big enough where the potential big changes to the leaderboard are probable. In theory, one athlete or team could still dominate by amassing a lead and then solidifying it on the final day, but the chances are smaller given this format. If the prospect of that is appealing, then this format may end up being very rewarding. The bad news is that it potentially draws into question the legitimacy of the test.

Could we see some serious upsets at the CrossFit Games this year given all the rule changes? Photo: Handout

 Not all events are weighted evenly. In a hypothetical example, reigning champion Mat Fraser could win three events early on and Patrick Vellner could finish second, fifth and 10th in those events and only be giving up 28 total points. Assuming they both make it to the final cut, if Vellner gets dealt a great event and wins it while Fraser finishes a respectable fifth (in a field of the best 10) Vellner would gain 40 points back on that one event. That’s a net +12 for Vellner, even though Fraser won three of the four theoretical events.

Basically, the “fitter” athletes have the potential to be rewarded less for doing well early on and punished more for what would typically still be considered good finishes late in the weekend. 

You need events that favour you early so you can make the cuts, and if you do survive and then get a wheelhouse workout late you can make up major ground with an event win late in the competition.

 So, are all these changes good or bad? Depends who you are, and depends what you like. It won’t be possible to have a legitimate assessment until everything is said and done. Good or bad though, the Games is almost upon us. The fittest men, women, teams, and age group athletes have slowly been drawing closer and closer to Madison, Wisconsin. It’s only a matter of days until the questions that have been mounting all season get answered.