2023 Cross-Semifinal World Wide Leaderboards: Part 1

June 21, 202312 min read

Contributions by Barclay Dale, Brian Friend and Mike Halpin

One of the big changes to the 2023 season was the re-introduction of uniform programming for the final qualifying stage to the CrossFit Games (Semifinals)  for both elite individuals and teams. One of the most appealing things about standardized programming is the ability to compare athletes from around the world to each other on the same set of workouts or tests

Like many of you, we were interested in seeing what that would look like upon the completion of the final weekend of Semifinal competition, and although this is coming out a few weeks after the fact, it’s something we created quickly and have been dissecting with a fairly high level of scrutiny. 

Disclaimer: This is not a perfect representation of who is fitter than whom and should not be seen as such.

One reason we waited this long to make this public is that there are conclusions which can be drawn from this that can be harmful in nature. It is critical to keep in mind that there are countless variables which were in fact NOT the same from Semifinal to Semifinal, week to week, and athlete to athlete

Each of us has chosen two things to highlight which we believe are valuable in terms of understanding what happened during the three weeks of Semifinals. In some cases they are affirmations of something we thought might be the case, in other cases they show something contrary to what was expected, and some of them weren’t things we were looking for at all because we didn’t know to look for them, but we do now. 

There are two different leaderboards for each division:


Open style scoring for all athletes in the division scored against each other.

Color key: Competitive Region Highlighted with matching Bold Colors for Games Qualifiers and Soft Colors for the rest of the semifinalists.

Men’s Cross-Semifinal leaderboard

Women’s Cross-Semifinal leaderboard  

Team Cross-Semifinal leaderboard


Games style scoring using the traditional 40 athlete scoring table for the qualifying athletes. 

Color key: Competitive Region Highlighted with matching Bold Colors for Games Qualifiers and Soft Colors for the rest of the semifinalists.

Men’s Cross-Semifinal leaderboard  

Women’s Cross-Semifinal leaderboard

Team Cross-Semifinal leaderboard  


Let’s talk about Individual Test 1

From its announcement in the weeks leading up, to the kick off of the first heat in Orlando, there was a lot of speculation about test 1. What sled was it? Was it even a sled at all? What impact it would it have on the rest of the test?  

What on paper appeared to be a mono-structural test with rounds of hand over hand pulling, quickly became an ability to pull the sled test with some mono-structural elements surrounding it. 

Upon reflection having seen all seven Semifinals go, we came to find that from semifinal to semifinal the Spud Inc Magic Carpet had varying results, but one region seemed to tip the scales dramatically:


RegionCount% of Top 40
North America West12.5%
North America East12.5%

Looking at the Top 40 results for women’s test 1, 72.5% of the Top 40 was from Europe. The first thought that may come to mind is the stacked field, including multiple podium contenders including, Laura Horvath, Gabi Migala and Annie Thorisdottir. The next thought might be that they went in Week 3, which gives them more time to prepare, as well as a few weeks of examples of how to game plan the Test. The most popular reaction, and the one that seems to hold the most weight (pun intended), is that the friction on the floor* was vastly different in Berlin, making it much easier to pull the sled. With over 70% of the top 40 scores worldwide coming from there, it’s likely an uneven mix of all three, with the dominating factor being the flooring.

*Note that with another 17.5% of the top 40 scores worldwide also coming from Oceania, we can conclude this was likely also the biggest contributing factor. Oceania does not have three podium contenders, and did not go in the final week (they went in week 2).

Danielle Brandon

But instead of focusing on the simpler, “which had the fastest sleds?” or “did Berlin just get more time to prepare?” Let’s look back at week one, and perhaps the most impressive performance from any female athlete on this test, Danielle Brandon. 

If we now can contest that Europe and Oceania had “faster” floors, or top athletes, or time to prepare, what does that mean when Danielle Brandon beat her entire region by over one minute and beat the next Games qualifier in her region, Amanda Barnhart, by nearly two minutes?

If you’re curious how Brandon’s impressive week one performance stacks up to some of Europe’s top female contenders, it’s not too bad considering all the aforementioned differences:

AthleteScoreWW RankGames Qual Rank
Gabriela Migała24:34.261st1st
Annie Thorisdottir25:15.1910th4th
Danielle Brandon26:35.4828th12th
Laura Horvath26:39.1131st13th

While many may focus on the sled or the field in Europe, the more impressive piece, what I am most impressed by, is the athletes that seemed to do well regardless of the easy why nots; with Brandon being the best example of that.


Games qualifiers have an edge in the upper body.

The Semifinals tests that involved the upper body the most were Test 2 (muscle ups and dips), Test 3 (bench press), and Test 6 (handstand walking, legless rope climbs, and strict handstand push ups). 

In reviewing the full field Cross-Semifinal leaderboards, 18 of the men’s and 15 of the women’s 40 Games qualifiers had top 100 finishes in all seven tests worldwide. The table below shows the number of best and worst finishes for these 33 Games qualifiers by test*. 

*When a best/worst finish was in multiple events, it was counted for each. 

TestMen’s Best FinishMen’s Worst FinishWomen’s Best FinishWomen’s Worst Finish

Twenty-five of the Games athletes’ best finishes were in Tests 2, 3, or 6 (bold above), while 20 of their worst finishes were not in Tests 2, 3, or 6. A combined 45 of these 71 finishes (or 63.4%) support upper body strength and stamina being a common denominator of Games qualifiers.

The remaining 47 Games qualifiers had a combined 83 finishes outside of the top 100 worldwide. The table below shows these finishes broken out by test.

Test# of Non-Top-100 Finishes (Games Men)# of Non-Top-100 Finishes (Games Women)

In order, Tests 6, then 3, then 2* had the lowest number of finishes outside of the top 100 worldwide.

*Test 2 being in a tie with Test 7.

While athletes still had to perform well in the other four tests, it is evident that, relative to the field, the Games qualifiers separated themselves in upper body pulling and pushing, and that while there was a lot of talk about this particular test being machine dominant as a whole, the data suggests that upper body strength ended up being a stronger factor in determining the eventual Games’ qualifiers. 


North American Men Dominated Semifinals

Through the combination of minimum spots guaranteed and additional spots being allocated to certain Semifinals based on World Wide Ranking following the 2023 Quarterfinals, North American men received a total of 21 out of the 40 CrossFit Games spots (52.5%). 

In a vacuum, comparing performances of the Games qualifiers from around the world against each other:

North American men accounted for:

  • the top 6 spots (100%)
  • 13 of the top 15 spots (86.7%)
  • 14 of the top 20 spots (70%)
  • 20 of the top 30 spots (66.7%)
  • 3 of the 7 test records (42.95)
  • 28 of the 35 top 5 scores on each test (80%)

Assuming that in a normal distribution of statistics they would have close to 50% representation against the field on key statistics, we can pretty clearly see that they are dominating nearly every aspect of competition. 

There have been many questions asked about the intent of the WWR and Strength of Field allocation system, and surely there will be many more. Despite the differences from Semi to Semi (which by the way several of them are NOT in favor of the North American Semifinals anyway), it seems pretty clear that based on this round of competition, the men in North America are being slighted in terms of Games qualifying spots. 

One notable thing about what these Cross-Semifinal leaderboards suggest about North American men, is that based on our analysis from the Open and Quarterfinals here it was actually European men who were being slighted. 

The combination of these two findings is what needs to be explored in the offseason to make sure that we are clear about what we’re looking for, and helping to ensure that the data we’re using to evaluate it is reflective of the balance CrossFit is actually looking for at the Games when it comes to global representation versus the fittest on earth competing for that title.

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Brian Friend

Brian stumbled upon CrossFit in the Fall of 2013. He has been a writer, data analyst, content creator, commentator, and broadcast coordinator. He's worked at a majority of the largest CrossFit competitions over the last three seasons, is a regular guest on the Sevan Podcast, and has been amongst the leading sports analysts in the sport in recent years. He has a passion for advancing the sport of CrossFit, and spreading the CrossFit methodology, by living it out in both his personal and professional life.


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