Is the Rogue Invitational Field Stronger than the CrossFit Games?

First, a little primer. Earlier this week, Tyler Watkins from Lawn Chair Leaderboarding published an article on his Substack that used a “Relative Strength Index” to evaluate the Rogue Invitational’s roster and how it stacked up to this year’s CrossFit Games.

Now, CrossFit Analyst Barclay Dale shares his methodology of how he views the strength of the Rogue Invitational using a slightly different methodology. 


Months ago I came to Tyler with this idea to mathematically predict the outcome of the Games, not just who would win, but the entire leaderboard. I was having difficulty objectively comparing athletes on a global scale and needed to hear another viewpoint. That was when Tyler introduced me to his concept of utilizing Quarterfinals places, the most quality and competitive global comparison we can make between athletes, as a starting point of an athlete’s fitness level and what to expect from them for the season. 

The Dale Method

As Tyler did, I started with Quarterfinals placement, but I wasn’t persuaded by any other competition. While there is certainly valuable data we can gather from Semifinals, the Games, and now the Madrid CrossFit Championship, quantifying changes to an athlete’s Quarterfinals placement based on other competitions leaves room for subjectivity and bias. I don’t like subjectivity and bias. Quarterfinals provides the singular best snapshot of global fitness comparison with the largest pool of athletes to find the Relative Strength Index of any competition field, the Rogue Invitational or otherwise.

Quarterfinals consists of five workouts, not enough data to truly make the argument that, for example, 15th place means one is the 15th fittest person in the world at that time. Thus, the first step is grouping Quarterfinals placement in two ways, by 5s (1st-5th, 6th-10th, 11th-15th…) and by 10s (1st-10th, 11th-20th, 21st-30th…). The thought was that each will remove some of the miniscule differences in placement that arise from a competition with individual events worth so much (20% per event for Quarterfinals). Instead of assigning groups by counting down from 100 as Tyler did, I assigned them by counting up from 1. Thus, a Relative Strength Index of 1.00 is the strongest field that could possibly exist. 

Mathematically, an athlete’s group by 5s or 10s would be the ceiling of (or the next whole integer greater than) their Quarterfinals place divided by 5 or 10, respectively. 

Amanda Barnhart’s 8th place in Quarterfinals will be used as an example:

All Rogue Invitational athletes Quarterfinals places and their associated Quarterfinals grouped places can be found here.

With each athlete’s Quarterfinals place reassigned with their groupings, I proceed with the following formula:

Whereas Tyler uses the minimum possible sum of athletes “strength” scores at the Games combined with Quarterfinals as his denominator, I use the minimum possible score from Quarterfinals keeping the data used in the calculation to only one competition. With a grouping of 5s and 10s, this minimum possible score is 50 and 30, respectively, for 20 athletes like we see at the Rogue Invitational.

I have yet to gather data to persuade me to use one grouping over another, so for now, I’ll proceed with analysis for both. If I had to pick one though, I’m inclined to trust the Relative Strength Index when grouped by 10s more. In such a large field, fitness should more so be the separator than execution. Grouping by 10s mitigates more potential execution errors (and event ties) in Quarterfinals than does grouping by 5s. 

Let’s dive in. 

The Men

Men’s Field RSI by 5s RSI by 10s
Rogue Invitational 1.88 1.83
2022 Games Top 20 1.90 1.80
2022 Games 2.12 2.00

The men’s field is pretty cut and dry. The Relative Strength Index of the Rogue Invitational is nearly equal to the Games top 20 field and, in fact, is stronger when grouping Quarterfinals places by 5s (remember, lower is better). This results in a Relative Strength Index that says the Rogue Invitational men are collectively 101.1% as strong as the Games top 20 men.

When looking at grouping Quarterfinals places by 10s, Rogue is 98.3% as strong as the Games top 20. When discussing two vastly different competitions, the Rogue Invitational field brings nearly the exact same fitness level as the Games field no matter the metric you choose to look at, something likely unmatched by any other competition.

Men’s Expectations

In general, Rogue is as strong as the top 20 at the Games. This result shouldn’t be surprising as all of the top 15 at the Games will be among those competing at Rogue. As far as what to expect, the men’s field will look a lot like the final day at the Games, both physically and competitively.

The greatest volatility to the leaderboard will come from Chandler Smith who could likely place anywhere between 5th and 18th depending on how his lungs respond to the Austin air, Guilherme Malheiros between 3rd and 10th depending on a weightlifting bias in the programming, and Jorge Fernandez between 8th and 14th depending on how he can perform as an individual after standing on the podium at the Games this year with Invictus.

Beyond these three, expectations will likely align with reality of how the leaderboard will shake out. But with all of the top 15 from the Games showing up, a fewer number of events, and different programming, some athletes could find themselves with more than a five place difference than their Games finish. Expect very few places to be guaranteed going into the final event.

The Women

Women’s Field RSI by 5s RSI by 10s
Rogue Invitational 5.10 4.40
Rogue Invitational(adjusted) 2.69 2.35
2022 Games Top 20 1.32 1.30
2022 Games Top 18 1.33 1.27
2022 Games 1.61 1.56

The women’s field gets a little muddy. Three of the women’s Quarterfinals placements should have asterisks: Annie Thorisdottir didn’t participate in the Individual Quarterfinals, and Manon Angonese and Anikha Greer have a skewed placement due to missed submissions. 

Getting into the numbers, the Rogue field is 25.8% as strong as the top 20 at the Games this year when grouped by 5s and 29.6% when grouped by 10s. However, this includes a 0th for Annie Thorisdottir, Manon Angonese’s 1843rd Quarterfinals place, and Anikha Greer’s 727th Quarterfinals place. Adjusting the denominator to discount Annie and Manon and only tabulate with 18 athletes, and changing Anikha’s Quarterfinals place to 17th where we know she would have finished had she met the deadline, the Rogue Invitational (Adjusted) Relative Strength Index would almost be cut in half and be 49.6% as strong as the top 18 at the Games when grouped by 5s, and 54.1% as strong when grouped by 10s.

Women’s Expectations

In general, Rogue is roughly half as strong as the Games which isn’t surprising when considering 7 of the 20 women didn’t compete in the individual division at the Games this year. With only 6 of the top 10 and 13 of the top 20 at the Games competing at the Rogue Invitational, the remaining seven women will have the chance to make a statement: either that they’ve arrived, or they never left. As far as what to expect, the women’s field has a lot more volatility with unknowns but is more likely to have a leaderboard solidified before the final event compared to the men.

The greatest volatility to the leaderboard will come from the three aforementioned women with Annie who could likely place anywhere from 3rd to 7th depending on how smooth her transition back to individual competition is, and Manon and Anikha between 8th and 16th due to impressive off-season showings thus far but little competition against the athletes participating in the Rogue Invitational. 

Olivia Kerstetter is my dark horse volatile woman, placing 19th in Quarterfinals this year before taking the Games 16-17 Girls title with ease. We have very little data to predict her performance against the big guns in the sport at the moment, but we do know she has the potential to place well at the Games for years to come. The question is: will she start making headlines at Rogue, or when she charges onto the Individual scene?

Closing

Youth on the rise, returning to individual competition, a rematch of the Games top 15 on the men’s side. There is so much fitness to be had, and so much unknown. There will be so many stories to follow that it’ll be hard to keep up with them all.

But one thing is certain, in agreement with Tyler Watkins: the Rogue Invitational is the closest competition that can hold a candle to the density of competition we see at the Games and will be a dramatic showdown no matter where you look at the leaderboard.


Barclay Dale is an analyst for Lawn Chair Leaderboarding, the best Fitness Fantasy Sports Game around. Lawn Chair Leaderboarding will be hosting a ‘pick ’em’ style fantasy game for this year’s Rogue Invitational.

Be sure to follow Lawn Chair Leaderboarding on Instagram and Facebook.

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