The Final Countdown: An Overall Score Cut-off

CrossFit Games Open workout 14.5 will be released in about 24 hours, and there are many athletes still on edge about qualifying for Regionals.

The Question

My overall score is 466, is it too late? Is this likely to disqualify me from Regional qualification?

Remember, the overall score is calculated by summing each of the placings for each Open workout. So if you place 1st, 2nd, 11th, and 1st in the past four workouts within your region, your score is 15 (and your awesome and likely named Emily Bridgers). The score can quickly get jump though, given the huge number of competitors there are… something like 5,000 women in just the South East region.

Let’s look at a simple plot to see what has happened in 2012 and 2013.

Fig. 1: Women’s overall score plotted against overall place in Open competitions 2012 and 2013 within five CrossFit Regions. The red line is drawn to illustrate the top 60.

Figure 1 shows overall scores against overall placings for women after completion of the Open competition in five Regions across two years. If I were to draw a trend line or linear regression, you’d see a positively sloped line following the center of that cloud of points.

However, there is variation – not all of those points would fall along the trend line.  And to make my point clearer, let’s zoom in:

Fig. 2: A magnified portion of Figure 1 illustrating ‘edge-qualifiers’. The red line indicates top 60, and the green line indicates top 48.

Look at the red line: Any points that lie on the line are individuals who placed 60th overall. Their overall scores ranged from 390 to 508. Similarly, any points on the green line are individuals who placed 48th (the Regionals cut-off for 2014). Their scores ranged from 302 to 435. The minimum score in the Top 60 was 7 attained by Lindsay Bourdon and Julie Foucher of the South East and Central East, respectively.

Big Picture

So there is some overlap in the ranges (years and regions can vary), but the point is that 500 points is a rough cut-off for ‘edge’ athletes. At 466 points after four workouts, there is a lot of pressure to keep the score low in 14.5. Low as in top 50.

I also want to emphasize something. Variation: This is NOT all of it. The data I have is a tiny sub-sample of all the Open data on This means that my 500 point cut-off is conservative. With more data, the cut-off will probably increase. Additionally, because no one has made the Top 60 with a score above 508 in my data set, does not mean it can’t or won’t happen this year. The Open is more competitive this year; there are more athletes registered that can cause more dramatic swings in scores… which will only lead to increased variation, and a higher score cut-off for 2014.

Lastly, if it wasn’t obvious, Allison Brager, my wife, is my imaginary CrossFit competitor inquiring about her score and chances of Regional qualification in this year’s Open. I’m a scientist: I’m trying to be objective and realistic. This is not a fluffy, “you can do it”, feel-good, post to encourage her to perform well in 14.5. I sincerely believe she can make it – I would have written this with much more cynicism if I didn’t (she knows that I’ll call her out if chances, acts, or statements are bullshit…).

Are muscle-ups that important, Castro?

In previous posts, I’ve presented on the range of Open workout placings athletes have and its impact on CrossFit Games Regional qualification. These results were posted in a series entitled “Predicting regional competitors from single open workouts” and can be found here:

I believe these results partially counter Dave Castro’s statement during the introduction to Open workout 14.4 (around minute 37:00 here):

We wanted the best of the best to be able to finish it and get back to the rower. … You should not go to Regionals, you should not go to Regionals if you don’t have a basic move like the muscle-up. Period.

The Open is changing year-to-year, becoming more competitive and more challenging to qualify for Regionals, but one thing my posts have illustrated: there is a lot of variation and a single Open workout is a poor predictor of regional qualification.

So how can Castro make this claim? Have muscle-ups been a deciding factor in Regional qualification in the past?


In fact, muscle-ups have been featured in the past two Open competitions during the Karen-esque, miserably painful 12.4 and 13.3, and there were plenty of Regionally qualifying women who didn’t perform a single muscle-up during these workouts. Indeed, 39 in 2012, and 5 in 2013 just from my sub-sampled data set (described in my first post).

The range in scores for 12.4 and 13.3 for Regional qualifiers (overall place is less than 60) in my data set: 240-270, and 240-273, respectively. This means that an athlete needed to complete double-unders, (the workout was 150 wall balls, 90 double unders, then muscle ups), but muscle-ups were optional…

But… the Open is becoming more competitive. It was much harder to get to Regionals last year than in 2012 without muscle-ups (i.e., 39 athletes in 2012 versus 5 in 2013 in the sub-set I’m working with).

So Castro might be right this year: Perhaps no one will qualify for Regionals this year that doesn’t compete a muscle-up in 14.4. We can only, anxiously wait. But the way I see it: CrossFit is more than a muscle-up, and the Open generally does a good job of demonstrating it.