Can Anyone Beat Mayhem Freedom and Four Other Takeaways from Team Quarterfinals
Heading into the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Team Quarterfinals the question on everyone’s mind was if a serious contender would step up to challenge CrossFit Mayhem Freedom for the Affiliate Cup Championship. With a year under the new season format and a much better Quarterfinal test implemented this season, what teams separated themselves from the pack of Affiliates and topple what could be the greatest Mayhem team ever assembled?
Here are five takeaways at first glance at the unofficial leaderboard.
1. Waking up and choosing Mayhem
No surprise here, atop the leaderboard (North America and Worldwide) is CrossFit Mayhem Freedom. The team of Rich Froning, Samuel Cournoyer, Andrea Nisler and Taylor Williamson is the only team in the world to have top-5 finishes in every workout.
Dating back to last year when the Quarterfinals stage made its first appearance, the Mayhem Freedom team has finished in the top-10 in the world in all 10 workouts including six wins with an average placing of 2.4 over the two year span. In fact, Mayhem’s worst finish in the Quarterfinal stage was last year’s sixth place finish in Workout 1.
However, as impressive as Mayhem Freedom’s performance was, it wasn’t quite the dominating one that we have gotten used to seeing from the team. The new Mayhem Independence team has aspirations of preventing Froning from his 10th Games title. The team of Alexis Johnson, Sasha Nieves, Luke Parker and Angelo DiCicco made things interesting in Cookeville this weekend, recording five top-10 finishes including a second place behind Freedom in Workout 2 by just three seconds. They finished third in North America, just one point behind CrossFit Invictus.
The newly assembled Mayhem Justice team could also play spoiler and gives the training camp three potential podium contenders as they finished tied for seventh in North America and ninth worldwide. The most impressive performance of this newly assembled team consisting of Ben Davidson, Seth Stovall, Anniston Sudhof and Jessica Kalagian was in Workout 1 where they recorded the world’s second best time, finishing the grueling burpee, shuttle run workout in 8:40, besting the flagship team by three places after they received a thirty second penalty.
Collectively, Mayhem’s three teams all finished in the top-10 in the world.
2. “The Northern Way”
Last year the CrossFit Oslo team came out of nowhere to finish as the runner-up behind Mayhem Freedom at the Games, joining third place finisher CrossFit Genas to become the first European teams to podium in Games history. The team from Norway is back and they aren’t flying under the radar anymore.
After the Quarterfinals they look to be the most well-balanced team in the European field. This year’s team, named Oslo Navy Blue, added 2019 Games individual athlete and three-time “Fittest” Norwegian Nicolay Billaudel to a team that returns Ingrid Hodnemyr, Lena Richter and Eivind Dahl Ringard.
They took the Quarterfinal title in Europe while placing sixth worldwide and Norway looks to be building a factory of competitive teams, joining Oslo Navy Blue in the European Quarterfinal top-10 are Oslo Purple Red (6th) and CrossFit Trondheim (7th).
3. Making Invictus Great Again
The Invictus name has always held significant weight in the sport especially in the team division. Last year’s Invictus team struggled at the Games, placing 19th, the worst finish by the team with three podium finishes to its name since the team division was started in 2013.
This year’s team has gained valuable experience from last year with holdovers Brittany Weiss and Jorge Fernandez joined by teen division alum Devyn Kim and this year’s top Open finisher in the United Kingdom Joshua Al-Chamaa.
The team looks balanced, showing a wide range of skills from strength (4th worldwide in Workout 3) to engine work (1st worldwide in Workout 1) as they finished second in North America (and second worldwide), just six points behind Mayhem Freedom. Collectively they had four top-five worldwide finishes.
Invictus founder and head coach CJ Martin was adamant that Invictus return back to the podium and this year’s team has the make-up to do just that.
4. CrossFit Reykjavik Plays it Safe
When Annie Thorsidottir announced she was going team for this season, she made it known that she was gunning for Mayhem Freedom and she created a team made up of some heavy hitters in the CrossFit team division. Lauren Fisher, Tola Morakinyo and Khan Porter have varying skills but what they all had in common was the willingness to put in the work and experience competing at the Games on a team, something Thorisdottir lacked.
On paper this team appeared to be the favorite to challenge Mayhem Freedom and a less than stellar performance in Workout 2 raised some questions. However CrossFit Reykjavik took a conservative approach in that test, making sure they received zero penalties, resulting in a 117th place worldwide in that workout. That placed them 45th overall after Day 1.
On Day 2 they bounced back in a major way, recording the world’s best time in Workout 3 and 4. Joining Mayhem Freedom as the only team with multiple worldwide workout wins.
This team has home run potential and in a Games format could still be the only team to match Mayhem Freedom head-to-head in the majority of workouts. This Quarterfinals programming proved that the team can work together which makes them different from past “Super Teams”.
5. A somewhat new contender from “Down Under”
At last year’s Games the Oceania region just missed out on having representation on the podium as Plus64 CrossFit and CrossFit Urban Energy placed sixth and seventh respectively. This year’s top Oceania team CrossFit Selwyn hails from New Zealand and they finished an impressive fourth worldwide and recorded a near sweep of workout wins in their Quarterfinal with four wins, matching Mayhem Freedom for Quarterfinal wins and behind CrossFit Commit Okavango who won all five workouts in the African Quarterfinal.
The Kiwis boast an impressive line-up of young up-and-comers including brothers Ben and Luke Fowler and Plus64 holdovers Marnie Sykes and Madeline Shelling. Their workout performances stacked up competitively with the top teams worldwide as they had three top-10 finishes and could be the team that makes history for the region as the first team to have a podium finish.