Which Regions Dominated the Open in 2016?

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*Photo from The CrossFit Games

Every CrossFit Games season we get one opportunity to see the entire CrossFit world compete against each other. The CrossFit Games Open is the only time we get to really compare the different Regions directly against each other. Although the athletes all do the same workouts during the Regionals, the staggered dates make a direct comparison between Regions problematic. For example, there is a definite advantage to competing during week three compared to week one (~24 days of event prep vs ~10 days, in addition to seeing the previous weeks’ scores and strategies).

So the Open gives us a unique opportunity to compare the competitiveness of each Region. We must keep in mind though that the Open is not Regionals or the Games. The volume, movements, loading, etc. are all very different across the three stages of competition. Just because an athlete or Region is dominant in the Open does not guarantee that they will excel during the later stages of competition (although the best Games athletes generally dominate all three stages).

In this article we’re going to explore the home Regions of the top 100 male and female individual finishers in the Open. This will give us an idea of what Regions have the most top Open athletes, and maybe tell us something about the overall competitiveness of the Region. We’ll also compare that with the size of each Region (based on total number of Open participants in Individual division).

Although the CrossFit world is divided into 17 Regions, they are now paired up into eight “Super Regions”. Each Super Region is currently allotted 5 Individual Games spots for each gender. Each chart below is also color-coded by Super Region.

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The three Super Regions with the most top 100 athletes are East (19.5%), Central (17%), and Meridian (16.5%). The bottom three Super Regions are South (7.5%), Pacific (7%), and West (6.5%). For comparison, if the top 100 spots were evenly distributed, each Super Region would have 12.5% of their athletes in the top 100. In actuality, the top 3 Super Regions took more top 100 spots in the Open than the other five combined.

The top three Regions were Europe (14.5%), North East (13.5%), and North Central (10%).

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When we look at Super Regions by size, we get a little different picture. The largest three Super Regions based on Open participation are South (22%), Meridian (17%), and Atlantic (14%). The largest three Regions are Europe (14%), Latin America (9%), and North East (8%).

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But a large Region doesn’t necessarily make a competitive Region. In the chart above we compare strength vs. size. The Regions that are more competitive than their size would suggest have a positive percentage. Those who have less top 100 finishers than their size would predict have a negative percentage. Based on this comparison, North East, So Cal, and North Central are the most competitive based on their size.

The Latin America Region really stands out on this chart because they have the second most Open Participants this year. But they only had one female athlete in the top 100 and no males. This is good news for the Region though. The popularity of CrossFit has been skyrocketing in Latin America in recent years, and the sheer number of athletes is surpassing all of the more established Regions except Europe. Watch out in a few years when this new influx of athletes gets a few more years experience under their belt.

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The final two charts show how many male and female athletes from each Region finished in the top 100 in the Open. European athletes had the most top spots for both males and females, with North East taking second. South East was 3rd for males and 4th for females. North Central took the 3rd spot for females, but their males were 6th. Central East took the 4th spot for males, but the 11th spot for females. Finishing out the top 5 was So Cal for both males and females. By comparing these lists we can get a sense of which Regions have stronger men and which have stronger women. There are often big differences in competitiveness between genders in a Region.