The CrossFit Open 2019: Out with the Old, In With The New

Written By Ben  |  Open 

In 2018, roughly 429,000 athletes participated in The CrossFit Open. Only 25,000 people participated back in 2011. In short, the sport has exploded. Therein lies the problem Greg Glassman is trying to solve through the new CrossFit season format. 

The growth CrossFit Inc. has seen is international, yet the representation is still roughly the same year over year. 

Reebok CrossFit Open: The Old Format

In the good ol’ days, all CrossFit athletes participated in the The CrossFit Open. From there, the top athletes in each of the 18 world-wide regions move on to a another competition called, Regionals.

For the past several years, the old format of the CrossFit Games season was as follows:

“The season culminates in the Reebok CrossFit Games. At this point in the season, the field has been whittled down from hundreds of thousands of athletes in the Open to the world's fittest 40 men, 40 women, 40 teams, 80 teenagers, and 240 masters.”

For more information on how things used to be, you can read about it’s extensive history here.

The 2019 Fall CrossFit Open Format

In 2018, there were only 32 different flags represented at the Games. In 2019, Greg Glassman decided to ensure that every country that practices CrossFit sends an athlete to the Games. 162 countries have licensed CrossFit affiliates... and because of the Open alone, 114 of these countries were represented at the 2019 CrossFit Games.

CrossFit Open 2019 changes

The CrossFit Open 2019: 

The top male and female from every country with a CrossFit affiliate received an invitation to the Games. Can you imagine how difficult it is to win the Open if you’re in a country like USA, Canada, U.K., or Australia? Moving forward, don’t expect to see many of the big names competing seriously in the Open. They may participate to keep things interesting (and in order to be seeded well for the Games), but I don’t think any of them are doing it expecting to win and have that be their meal ticket. 

In addition to the top finishers of each country, the next best 20 athletes from the worldwide Open will be invited as well.

When is the 2019 CrossFit Open?

There will be two Opens in 2019. Our first Open took place this past February, running for five weeks into March. The next 2019 Open will be kicking off on October 10th. 

The October 2019 Open will help determine the athletes participating in the 2020 games - and is technically considered the 2020 CrossFit Open. Moving forward, the CrossFit Open will be in October only. As of right now, we have no further insight as to what the October Open will look like or when the 2020 Games will take place. 

Have you signed up yet to receive weekly strategy guides for each workout in the 2020 CrossFit Open? Click here to make sure that you get our best strategies and tips!

My not-so-bold prediction: Expect to see clause that includes the “next best” 20 athletes from the Open eliminated once the Open moves to October. These 20 spots are being added in for 2019 simply because there isn’t enough time to run all 16 Sanctioned Events before the 2019 Games. But we’ll get to the Sanctionals in a second. 

What About CrossFit Regionals?

There are no longer Regional events. When rumours first started flying last fall about the upcoming changes, it became evident that Regionals would be the first to go. To quote Glassman,

“It’s extremely expensive. Look at the Brazil (regional) event. We’re at the venue where the Olympics were held. It cost me over a million dollars and what comes out of it is 2 people go to the Games,” source

So instead of nine regional events on four continents, we now have 16 CrossFit Sanctionals, spread across the entire world. Yes, Sanctionals™ is now an official CrossFit trademarked word, so be sure to add it to your vocabulary.


There is no longer a CrossFit Invitational event. Instead, there are now CrossFit Sanctioned Competitions.


As for today, there are 18 official CrossFit Sanctioned events, although 6 will not premier until the 2020 season. These events will spread across 14 different countries.

The winning male, female, and team will receive an invitation to participate at the Games in Madison, Wisconsin. 


16 men, 16 women, and 16 teams will advance to the Games from these events. Raising our total participation at the Games to 376 Individuals and 16 teams.

CrossFit HQ has said recently that the official 2020 Sanctional event schedule will be released in May 2019.


Teams no longer have to belong to the same affiliate. CrossFit is taking a page out of the NBA’s playbook. Here come the Super Teams... let the Kevin Durant & LeBron James comparisons begin! Froning is obviously Jordan. 

However, the only way teams can now qualify is through Sanctionals. According to the rulebook the team’s six (two alternates) members must comprise the four athletes who competed at the Sanctionals competition on the same team, plus two alternates (one man and one woman).

After the names of those six members is provided to the Games staff, the team may only use those athletes to field their team at the 2019 CrossFit Games.

2019 CrossFit Open Masters Athletes:

A few changes for you guys. The rulebook states that age group athletes are still going to compete in the Open in order to make the cut to compete in the Online Qualifier. From there, the qualifier will decide who goes on to the Games. 

That said, the number of athletes qualifying for each division was lowered to 10 (down from 20). The number remains the same (200) for the number of athletes in each division who can qualify for the Online Qualifier.

Like in years past, age-group athletes submitting scores have to use a registered judge, as well as videotape workouts, since at least one video will asked to be submitted for review once the OLQ wraps up. There’s also the option to elect to submit workout videos online for judging and validation.  

New this year, CrossFit Inc. did wipe out the rule that placements in the Open will carry over and be used to count as an event placement for the Age Group Qualifiers. Which makes the OLQ more of a ‘clean slate’.

One last thing worth noting from the official rulebook:

Ties on the overall leaderboard for Online Qualifier will be broken by awarding the best position to the athlete who has the highest result in any single Online Qualifier workout. If athletes remain tied after this first tiebreaker, the process continues to their next-highest single result, and so forth. Results from individual Open workouts will NOT be used to break ties on the overall Online Qualifier leaderboard. Ties will not be broken for single event results. More than one athlete can share an event result, and each will earn the original point value.


What are the dates for the Age Group Online Qualifier?

Workouts for the Age Group Online Qualifier workouts were released on May 2nd, 2019. The submission deadline was Monday, May 6th.

At-Large Athletes:

CrossFit Inc. reserves the right to send 4 athletes who have failed to qualify otherwise to the Games. This is a complete CYA move. If a fan favorite fails to qualify through the Open or through a sanctioned event, you can believe Dave Castro will send a quick text message saying, “I got you covered, boo. You've always had the capacity in my eyes <3”.

Inevitably, this will be very controversial, and reminds us, again, that this is a private company and they make their own rules.

new crossfit open 2019 format

The 2019 CrossFit Games:

Since there were so many individuals (almost 300) at The Games, expect the first handful of events to be a “culling of the herd”. From what I’m gathering, we can expect to see about 75 - 90% of the field eliminated in the first half of The Games events. 

There will also be a “seeding” of some sort. I’m thinking this will allow higher seeds to either pass the “culling of the herd” stage altogether, or at least compete in the later heats so they know the times to beat.

“Overall competitor seeding at the Games will be determined by athletes' scores in the 2019 worldwide CrossFit Open. Athletes who do not participate in the Open (and thus do not receive an Open score) will receive the lowest seeding and will compete in the first qualifying heats at the 2019 Games. Higher seeded athletes will compete in later heats. Any athlete who qualifies for the Games as a national champion or with a top-twenty placement in the 2019 Open can improve their seeding and possibly qualify for a bye out of the first qualifying elimination round by winning a sanctioned event, regardless of whether that sanctioned event occurs before or after the Open in the 2019 competitive season.”

The 2019 CrossFit Games Location

Nothing changes here, the Games are still to be held in Madison, Wisconsin, through 2021. 

Why The Format Change? 

Greg Glassman has gone on record saying he wants the Games to reflect the international impact CrossFit is having. The current format doesn’t allow for that. If you remember the 2018 Games flag ceremony, only a handful of countries were represented. Even then, American flags (Canada included) were the overwhelming majority. BORING! Everyone knows CrossFit is an international sport and our main event should be represented as such. Good Job Glassman!

We have yet to see if this new format will “even the playing field”. Or if it will be a huge disaster for the CrossFit brand and the athletes that have become household names. Only time will tell.

What are your thoughts on the new format? Is this good for the sport? Or is this the beginning of the end?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Disclaimer: WODprep is not associated with CrossFit® in any way and these opinions are separate from the CrossFit® brand.

Additional sources:

  • Are the Games supposed to represent the worldwide impact of Crossfit, or are they supposed to identify the best Crossfit athletes in the world? I always thought it was supposed to be the best athletes, you know, like it is for Teens and Masters. Why are qualifying conditions different for individuals than they are for Teens and Masters?

    • Thanks for your comment, Randy! In regards to best athlete vs. worldwide impact: Why can’t it be both?

      The new format will, at best, expose us to some international phenom that can dethrone the household names we’re used to. It’ll also give an opportunity to a nore diverse base if people.

      At worst it will result in moving back to the old format. I think its a respectable experiment by a pretty large company that has been doing things a certain way for almost a decade.

      Glassman recently Said the MOST important part of CF is the everyday person trying to change their life from fat and sedentary to fit and active. <— I’m paraphrasing here.

      The Games Season / Competition is a distant second.

      While many serious athletes may not agree with the changes, I think the vast majority of CF “athletes” will benefit from placing less importance on competition, and more
      importance on inclusion and diversity.

      Have an awesome weekend!

  • I’m in the Master 60+. Is there any change for the regular guy, who just wants to compete? Is there ever going to be a too old masters’ age group? (65+, say)

    • Hey Mike, Thanks for your comment!
      Nah. I think us regular guys can look forward to a similar process. Watch the Open announcement Thursday night. Try our best on Friday. Maybe another go on Monday. See how we stack up this year over last.

      Re: “Too old masters’ age group”… I have zero insight as to whether or not this will happen, but I’m a betting man & I’m putting my money on yes. If CrossFit lasts, which I think it will, I believe they’ll continue to evolve as the sport grows in size and age. It’ll come down to how many “too old” athletes end up being serious competitors. You’ll lead the way.

    • Hey Ricardo – sure! Just please make sure to cite our author, and link back to this original article 🙂 Also – please send us the link to it once it’s been published. Thanks!

  • I believe the 2019 open is an epic fail. While I agree, CrossFit is a world wide sport, showcasing athletes from every country the new format leaves me confused and has deflated my motivation to compete this year. Like most professional sports, the media experience drives the interest of the fans for each competition. You don’t see other major sports get rid of their media teams in the hopes of attracting new fans in other countries. Those countries develop their own media teams for content, broadcasting etc. I’ve been a cross fit athlete before it was “cool” and have been a level 1 certified trainer. I looked forward to the open because it brought the “average” athlete into the world only few see. The announcements are weak, in another language and of poor content. Was this really your best option, scrap the entire media staff? Which in turn meant you took away all of usual vidoes, blogs, vlogs, articles etc. we’ve grown accustom to seeing each year. I’m disappointed because you’re better than that, smarter as a brand. Imagine the NFL, MLB, NBA (because that’s where Cross Fit was heading as a brand) get rid of all media content to boost global attention by taking away everything the fans used, looked forward to and relied on for information across each media domain. It’s virtual brand suicide. Just like your affiliates, which pop up at every available garage door….you develop media teams for each nation. You don’t scrap what’s working and alienate your core audience.

    • Bob is right on. The only announcement which was even worth watching was the last one because they brought back tommy Marquez and Co. the open this year was an absolute joke. I watched the first one, w high anticipation, laughed my butt off in embarrassment and didn’t watch again until 5 when I heard Marquez was back. Also, good luck w the top athletes from countries with like 10 actual crossfitters. What’s the point of bringing in an athlete who will be ousted in the first 5 min of the games while Brent Filowski sits home? Good call

      • Pat and Bob are right, diversity sounds great bringing in an International contingent, but there were no country restrictions on who qualified previously. Just be the best no matter where you are from. Worst yet the spaces they need for the new “competitors” are coming from reducing masters and teens from 20 worldwide game spots to 10 crushing many top Indivdulas their chances to compete.

    • If this change “deflates your motivation” you are a snowflake and weren’t going to be competitive anyway.

  • I cannot believe that each age group was reduced from 20 to 10…….so sad……….why?? is was only one heat!

  • How to Watch CrossFit Game 2019 Live Online?
    You will have several options for watching every exciting moment of all CrossFit Game. Every heat will be broadcast live on, and the CBS Sports App. Don’t worry you can easily watch CrossFit Games 2019 from here just click the watch here button upside there and enjoy watching your favorite game. CBS sports will broadcast the game first to end and You can also watch the game and engage with the community and broadcast team right on social media through Facebook Live. The facebook will broadcast CrossFit Game on CrossFit Game page. 2019 CrossFit Open workout start on February 21st at 5 p.m. PST

  • Can anyone let me know when the October 2019 Open is actually scheduled. It would really help our planning leading up to and around the event. Thanks James

    • I second this motion. There are other competitions that I have my eye on if the Open doesn’t happen in October.

  • Your style is unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from.
    Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this
    web site.
    Regards: Eve Hunt

  • Bad move! Crossfit games should be for the best of the best! Giving a participation trophy to someone who comes in 200th in the standings but gets to the games because they’re the best from their country is terrible!! Pull your head out Crossfit!!

  • In regards to the masters, if the Open was held in February again, I would have jumped to the 50-54 age bracket since my birthday is Feb 8th, but now the event will be held in Oct. Do I get to compete at 50 or 49 again?

  • It surprises me that Crossfit has developed an “
    inclusive” strategy by inviting the top athletes from each country to compete in the games while completely ignoring the possibility of opening up:a Masters division 65+ to include older athletes. The leaderboard has numerous individuals in their late 60’s and 70’s who are turning in some impressive scores!!! Since Crossfit is promoted as an athletic program for LIFE, why does that stop at age 60? Why are the oldest among us NOT visible in those games along with all those diverse nationalities? Greg Glassman, please contact me!!!

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