Breaking The Worldwide Rankings at the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games

July 15, 20239 min read

Image Credits: CrossFit LLC

Much has been said and discussed on the initial offering of the NOBULL CrossFit Games Worldwide Ranking System. BrianFriend, myself and others have talked for hours and taken deep dives breaking down and analyzing its usefulness, the points that athletes can earn and the two year look-back process vs. starting fresh.  

In an article I worked on with Brian, The True Strength of Field for 2023, we looked at the ranking and allocation systems for awarding athletes based on finishing in the top 15% of your division in each test and then an allocation system for each region using the same “D’Hondt Method” to divvy out the Games tickets.  

But with all those reviews there was one thing we never really thought about:

What if it could be broken in year 1?

When the Worldwide Ranking (WWR) was announced by Adrian Bozman and Dave Eubanks back in January, a curious statement was alluded to about the “Fittest on Earth” vs. the #1 athlete on the WWR after the Games: 

“[The] winner of the Games will always be the points winner for a given season.”

Dave Eubanks – Senior Manager of Competition, CrossFit LLC

Based on the points awarded this makes some sense, the winner of the Games will get 10,000 points, more than an athlete winning their region’s Semifinal (4,000 points), the Quarterfinals (2,000 points) and the worldwide Open (1,000 points) combined. In the announcement podcast, this version is stated by Bozman as, “[an athlete] cannot be out-pointed by someone who wins the Open”

The “will always” statement doesn’t follow that of similar systems in other professional sports like tennis or golf, where the winner of the championship event of the year, similar to the CrossFit Games, may not be the points leader when all points are allocated over the season (or in CrossFit’s case the two season look-back period).  I followed up with Eubanks and he reiterated this sentiment while also acknowledging the possibility of someone winning the Games but not being #1 overall was possible in 2024.

Now, you may think ‘”sure Halpin, if the WW ranked 99th athlete wins the Games, they would have this problem, but none of the top athletes”.  That’s somewhat true, and if you look at the data, there are only six women and two men who, if they  win the Games, will be both #1 on the World Wide Rankings and crowned the “Fittest on Earth” for 2023:


If  anyone else wins the Games they would carry the title of “Fittest on Earth”, but not be ranked # 1 in the WWR. Knowing that, let’s look at three athletes in particular who have a real chance to win the Games this year and subsequently break the intended rule.

Patrick Vellner – Worldwide Rank #2

Patrick Vellner NA West Semifinals 2023

Photo Credit: Athlete’s Eye Photography

Vellner will enter the Games with 16,940 points:

‘22 OPEN‘22 QF‘22 SF‘22 GAMES‘23 OPEN‘23 QF‘23 SF

The current WWR have Vellner listed as second. That includes 7,000 points for his 2nd place finish at the Games in 2021. Going into this year’s Games those points will fall off (based on the two-year rolling window), which based on the current field would have Vellner sitting 4th behind Justin Medeiros, Roman Khrennikov and Jeffrey Adler.

Vellner won the North America West Semifinal in late May, beating out the two-time reigning Games champion Medeiros, among others, to add his third win in a live qualifying event for the Games in his career (2018 East Regional, 2021 Atlas Games Semifinal, 2023 North America West Semifinal). As Vellner goes into his ninth Games, eighth as an individual, he is in real contention for getting his first title.

If Vellner was to win the Games, he would need Medeiros to finish off the podium and Khrennikov to finish 3rd or worse to take the title of both “Fittest on Earth” and WWR #1 overall; otherwise he’ll be the 2023 Games champion, “Fittest on Earth”, but not ranked first worldwide.

Jeffrey Adler – Worldwide Rank #5

Jeffrey Adler NA East Semifinal 2023

Photo Credit: Athlete’s Eye Photography

Adler will enter the Games with 17,450 points:

‘22 OPEN‘22 QF‘22 SF‘22 GAMES‘23 OPEN‘23 QF‘23 SF

Fresh off winning the North America East Semifinal, Adler has continued an upward trajectory which includes winning the Open, fifth worldwide in the Quarterfinals and winning not just this year’s Semifinal but also the Atlas Games Semifinal last year.  Adler was fifth last year at the Games, 118 points off the podium.  

If Adler was to win the Games for the first time this year, he would need the podium to at least go 1st- Adler, 2nd – Khrennikov and 3rd – Medeiros.  If Medeiros was to take second, Adler would be the Games Champ and “Fittest on Earth” for but Medeiros would hold his title of the #1 on the WWR. 

Annie Thorisdottir – Worldwide Rank #27

Annie Thorisdottir Europe Semifinal 2023

Photo Credit: CrossFit LLC

Thorisdottir will enter the Games with just 7,710 points:

‘22 OPEN‘22 QF‘22 SF‘22 GAMES‘23 OPEN‘23 QF‘23 SF

After taking 2022 off from Individual to focus on leading a team from her affiliate, CrossFit Reykjavik, Thorisdottir is back for her 13th total season at the CrossFit Games, 12th as an Individual since 2009, only missing the 2013 and 2020 Games in that time and winning back-to-back Games titles in 2011 and 2012.  

This season, she’s back and ready to go, finishing 54th in the Open, 18th in the Quarterfinals worldwide, and second at the European Semifinal. 

If Thorisdottir was to win her third Games, her total WWR points would be 17,710 which at this moment would be good enough for fourth behind Laura Horvath, Gabi Migala and Danielle Brandon (and only 730 points ahead of what Mallory O’Brien will have after the ‘23 Games).

In Conclusion

What would you rather be the “Fittest on Earth” or WWR #1? 

Would you rather win the single championship event of the season or be “Mr. or Ms. Consistency” gathering the most points over the last two years by finishing at the top or near the top in every stage of the season?  

In just a few weeks we will get to see if one man and one women reign over all others on both the podium and the rankings, or if we will have two men and/or women being mentioned, one as the “Fittest” and the other as WWR #1.

Dive Deeper: This article is based on a larger review of the post Semifinals worldwide rankings put out by the CrossFit Games team on June 12th.  Here is the analysis for further review on where athletes stack up and the “What Ifs” going into the Games. 

**If you found this article by Mike Halpin informative and enjoyable to read please consider buying him a cup of coffee, all proceeds will go to him** 

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Mike Halpin

Similar to someone learning the CrossFit methodology for the first time, Mike learned CrossFit writing and analysis by working with a coach, Brian Friend, and just showing up daily to accomplish a new task and learn new skills. Mike’s main passion and focus in the space is on making the Sport more Known & Knowable, whether be shining a light on new or lesser known rules, giving athletes more spotlight in the WZA and Semifinals broadcasts or diving into the big data around the CrossFit season. Mike started CrossFit in the summer of 2020 and got his L1 in 2022 to help train his kids and family and be able to support his missionary work overseas. Photo credit: @damiantran12


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