Which Events Were Most Correlated to the Final Standings at the 2023 Rogue Invitational?

With another competition in the books, it’s time to look at the event correlations to overall finish and between events. This analysis can provide some insights as to what elements were favored in the programming and how those impacted the final leaderboard.

I did the same analysis for last year’s Rogue Invitational and this year’s CrossFit Games. The analysis for the 2022 Rogue Invitational was interesting because the men and women had different events that best correlated to the overall finish. In most cases it is usually pretty similar, but last year’s Invitational had different results.

This year, however, the correlations were much more similar between the men and the women. And when I look into the data there appears to be a specific reason for this. Let’s dig into it.

What the Heck is Correlation?

The Basics

Before we get into the data, you might be wondering what correlation is or how to interpret the table below. Correlation data is between -1.0 and 1.0.

A 1.0 correlation means that two data sets, in this case the overall finish versus an event finish, is exactly the same. That is, the order of athletes from a specific event matches exactly to the overall standings. So 1st in an event is also 1st overall. 2nd in the event is 2nd overall, and so on all the way down to 20th place.

A -1.0 correlation is the opposite. 1st place in an event would take 20th place overall. 2nd place would take 19th overall. In simpler terms, this ‘negative correlation’ means that the best athlete at the end of the day would do the absolute worst in that specific event.

Of course the odds of a perfect correlation, whether 1.0 or -1.0, is nearly impossible. The actual data will end up somewhere in between. In the absolute middle is 0.0. This means there is no correlation between the event and overall standings. In other words, the event finish and overall finish is basically random and that some top athletes did well in the event and some did poorly.

CrossFit-Specific Correlations

When it comes to correlations within a CrossFit competition, almost all events have a positive correlation. I typically define a highly correlated event as one with a correlation above 0.6 and a low correlation is less than 0.3.

So with that, here is the correlation data for the 2023 Rogue Invitational.

Event to Final Standings Correlation

  Men Women
Texas Heavy 0.576 0.504
Seat at the Bar 0.177 0.520
The Circus 0.540 0.657
10th Inning 0.063 0.316
The Duel III 0.581 0.618
Max Deadlift 0.274 0.457
Hulk Hands 0.714 0.791
Big Cat 0.195 0.603
The Cleanup 0.721 0.759

Gymnastics Undervalued

The first thing that stands out to me is the four low correlations on the men’s side. The max deadlift is not a surprise that it is not very correlated to the overall standings, especially when it’s a 1RM deadlift.

So when I remove that, there are three events that I want to focus on:

  • Seat at the Bar
  • 10th Inning
  • Big Cat

What’s the common thread to all three of these?

If you said, gymnastics, you’re correct. The Rogue Invitational is known for being one of the heaviest events with some gymnastics sprinkled in. This year, being strong in gymnastics movements was not going to help you move up the leaderboard at the end of Sunday.

Seat at the Bar had the log muscle-ups; 10th Inning had high volume handstand push-ups; and, Big Cat was modified to feature handstand walking instead of peg boards. To illustrate how these three events were different than the rest, let’s take a look at Victor Hoffer.

Hoffer, a gymnastics wizard, had three top 15 finishes all week. In fact, those three finishes were actually top 5 finishes. Those three events were the three listed above. The other six events Hoffer finished worse than 15th. Hoffer would end the week in 17th place overall.

Pull & Push

The two highest correlations were on Sunday, Hulk Hands and The Cleanup. It was the same for both men and women. Additionally, The Circus was highly correlated for the women and moderately correlated for the men.

What did those events have in common? Hulk Hands and The Cleanup were both essentially clean and jerk events. One had heavy Fat Bells and the other was moderately heavy squat cleans and clean and jerks with a barbell. The Circus required shoulder-to-overhead (the jerk) strength on the Strongman Dumbbell movement. Hulk Hands and The Circus also had machines, which required higher power output.

Being proficient on machines, SkiErg and Echo Bike, in addition to being strong in the clean and jerk was a good indicator of performance this weekend.

Women’s Correlation

One of the things that probably stands out when looking at the correlation table above is that the women had more events that were correlated with the overall finish. This can be attributed to the top women being more consistent from event to event compared to the men.

The top 5 women only had nine 10th place or worse event finishes (and four came from Alex Gazan in 5th place). The men, however, had fourteen 10th place or worse event finishes.

Additionally, Laura Horvath and Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr finished the weekend with 780 and 770 points, respectively. Pat Vellner and Jeff Adler finished with 660 and 640 points, respectively. The top women averaged a better placement, 6th, on each event compared to the men, 7th.

So while the men’s leaderboard was bouncing all over the place, the women were generally more consistent with less big movement up (or down) the standings.

Final Thoughts

This year’s Rogue Invitational definitely placed an emphasis on one’s ability to move weight efficiently while also be well-conditioned. Having one or the other would not result in a good finish. An example of this would be Dani Speegle. She’s by far the strongest athlete in the women’s field. When conditioning was taken out of the mix she excelled (Max Deadlift and The Duel III). However, when running or longer events were added, Speegle struggled. Her strength helped, but she was unable to overcome the lack of conditioning relative to the field.

Pulling was a premium this year. From the Fat Bell Ground-to-Overhead to The Clean & Jerks on The Cleanup to the Max Deadlift, being proficient in pulling from the ground and then putting weight overhead was the key to success this year.

And finally, well-rounded athletes will find a way to do well. Those who did well at the CrossFit Games essentially did well at this year’s Rogue Invitational. With the CrossFit Games being the most well-rounded programmed competitions, there weren’t many outliers to the final standings at Rogue.

To excel at the sport of CrossFit, you have to be proficient in all three modalities regardless of whether one is being tested more than the rest. While weightlifting/strength is more rewarded at Rogue Invitational, the best athletes will also be able to do well in the gymnastics and monostructural events.

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