the GAMES BROADCAST that could have been: Rogue Invitational Day 1

the GAMES BROADCAST that could have been: Rogue Invitational Day 1


– Hey folks, Armen Hammer here. Let’s talk about day one of
the 2019 Rogue Invitational. Since the Rogue
Invitational was announced, it was clear that Rogue was
trying to make a marquee event for the Sanctional season and now that we’ve seen what the first day of competition looks like, I would say that they’ve done
an exceptionally good job of actually pulling that off. There are quite a few things that Rogue is doing really, really well. From the high quality on the
production side of things to the access to classic
Rogue-ish little toys for the individuals and the teams to play with during the event, to the prize purse which
is gigantic, ginormous, really, really huge, in
case you’re wondering, $400,000 between the divisions. The real gems here though are a little bit below the surface. I mentioned the stream just a second ago and from a production standpoint it’s really been one of the highlights. The quality has been really high, it’s had little to no down
time at all throughout the day which is very tough to pull off. And they have live rep counters which is something that adds
on multitudes of man hours and volunteers and extra human beings in order to pull that off
which is very impressive that they were able to put that together. And the interesting thing
about the stream is that it’s kind of, sort of like
a cousin to the stream that we saw that at the
Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge, which in itself was a
cousin to the streams that have been produced by CrossFit HQ. And by cousin, I mean they share a lot of the same humans behind it, they share some of the
same structure behind it and behind the scenes, if you watched my interview
with Greg Glassman, he mentioned this feeling
about the broadcasting of the Games and it was a vague answer but the thing that he was very clear about was that he did not want to
provide any sort of exclusivity to any broadcasting partner. And that I think is interesting
because the team, probably, that would have been
pulling off the broadcast for the company that was
negotiating for the rights of the Games was this team, or at least close enough that we could say it was pretty much going to be this team. And so, this is kind of the
stream that we have been used to with regionals and the Games in the past because a lot of it is
the similar team members and it’s kind of the stream
that we would have had, had CrossFit signed an exclusive deal to have the Games broadcast similar to the way it’s been
broadcast in the past. Honestly, if you expecting
to see a subpar live stream you have bad expectations. The fact is, Rogue generally
knocks it out of the park when they have opportunities
to do this sort of thing, all you have to do is
go onto their YouTube and look at literally any of their media and you’ll see the attention to detail and the quality that they
are going to be putting on for pretty much every single
one of these types of shows. The part of this Rogue Invitational that I am actually most
impressed by is the fact that they were able to create and put on what seems to be a very entertaining show. And I know that sounds
like a strange thing to say but again, the context of this is, this Rogue Invitational was
built from the ground up to be a marquee event when it came to a sanctioned competition and when you’re comparing it
to previous top tier events that we’ve saw in the Games season, even last year, regionals and the Games, they had major issues
when it came to the actual watchability of the events. And here’s what I mean, Rogue put together a sequence of events for the spectators to experience and watch and be wow-ed by and it
wasn’t just CrossFit stuff. Now, the CrossFit stuff
was made even better, even more watchable, even more exciting because there aren’t meaningless heats. And one thing that we’ve
learned from regionals and the Games over the
past few years is that, honestly, those first couple of heats, especially at regionals,
are pretty useless. It sucks to say that,
because those are athletes that have worked really hard to get there. But the fact of the matter is from a spectators
perspective, they are awful, they’re really, really boring to watch, they have no outcome on the end result of the actual competition
and we’ve seen that happen, not just at regionals, which would make sense because
it was an intermediary step but also at the Games where
the first couple of heats for most of these events were
just going through the motions waiting for the athletes to finish for the time cap to happen, for the next slash better
slash more exciting heats to take place. And CrossFit is sort of
moving in that direction, they’ve talked about how the first couple of days
of the CrossFit Games will be really aggressive eliminations, hopefully, ideally
getting all the way down to just the top 10 for the last day or two of competition so that it’s gonna be
just the most exciting, competitive moments over and over again every time they take the floor and Rogue has kind of
built something like that. They have just two heats of individuals and each heat is exciting
for various reasons just one heat of teams, which means that that’s the only heat that you have to worry about, and teams are already
notoriously impossible to pay attention to so when you just have the one heat and just the handful of teams to watch, things become significantly easier, both to follow and to be bought into so that when something exciting happens, you’re actually pumped about it. Outside of that structure,
which has created a much more exciting
CrossFit competitive show, Rogue really excelled when it
came to adding in side shows that are both meaningful and
exciting for the spectator. And the most obvious example
of these exciting sideshows is the Legends competition, a competition in which
Rogue has brought back around 18 or so legendary
CrossFitters from years gone by, some of which are really may
not even be household names for newer CrossFit athletes, athletes like Annie Sakamoto for example, one of the original Nasty Girls, Kristan Clever, you know,
everyone knows Sam Briggs. Sam Briggs just this
year is still qualifying for the CrossFit Games and
she’s won the Games in 2013. On the men’s side, we’ve
seen my personal hero, Mikko Salo, 2009 CrossFit Games champion, we haven’t seen him compete on the floor in five or six years at this point. On top of that, Rich Froning
stepped out to compete with Dan Bailey and Tommy
Hackenbruck and Chris Spealler and Jason Khalipa and Graham Holmberg, it was just a who’s who of
legendary CrossFit Games athletes and just being able to see Julie Foucher or Tanya Wagner or Christy Phillips back onto the competitive
floor, that means something. These were athletes that
really held the heart of the competitive
CrossFit community intact over the past 10 or 11 years, maybe sometimes even longer in some cases. So what we’re really
seeing here is a chance that Rogue took to not just
pay homage to these athletes, give them some more time in the limelight, let the athletes do what
they’re known for doing, you know we got to see
Josh Everett split snatch during the Amanda event. I mean, that is pretty wild honestly. And on top of that, it breaks
up the schedule of the day so that the individual
athletes and the teams can get a little bit more
time in between their events. And Rogue actually used
a second version of this, the Record Breakers, which is something they’ve done at the Arnold Strongman
Classic in the past and they’ve just kind of bring in ringers, whether they are competing at
the event there at that moment or if they’re just coming in specifically for the Record Breakers in
order for them to try out and set new Strongman World Records. So all that general stuff aside, we did see some very cool performances out of some specific athletes that I wanted to very quickly
highlight a handful of, individual performances
and races that we are going to be checking out going into day two at the Rogue Invitational. And the first thing that comes to mind is the tip top of the men’s division and the tip top of the women’s division both of which are separated by a very small margin of points. We have Patrick Vellner in
the lead on the men’s side followed very closely by Mat Fraser, and on the women’s side
Tia-Clair Toomey in the lead, followed very closely
by Sara Sigmundsdottir. And really what we want
to see here is a race between Mat Fraser and Patrick Vellner. Now, I interviewed Pat
Vellner months and months and months and months ago, I mean it feels like it was six years ago, it was probably three months ago, but either way, one of the things that he was really adamant about was, we’ve never seen Mat Fraser on his heels, back against the wall, when it comes to the
final day of competition at the CrossFit Games and
one of the biggest goals that Vellner had set for himself coming into this year’s season is, at the Games, he wants to
have within striking distance, just so he could see
Mat sweat a little bit, just so he could put a little
bit of pressure on Mat Fraser and see what he does when
there is a lot more riding on the line and competition
is much, much closer to him than before. And this is the exact
scenario that I imagine he was picturing in his mind. We’re at the Rogue Invitational, the stakes are not particularly
high for either of them. Yes, there is a lot of money on the line and yes, competitively
there’s a lot on the line, but in terms of the actual CrossFit Games, they’ve both locked in their spots, they don’t have to really
need to worry about it, this is truly an exercise
in competitive grit. And therefore, I think seeing Mat Fraser, really kind of have his
back against the wall, I mean, at this point
we’re calling a 10 point or a 12 point difference,
back against the wall, but honestly, I will
take whatever I can get, this man has been too dominant and it’s time that we saw what happens with four events remaining on the final day of a competition, and he’s not in the lead. On the women’s side, Tia-Clair
Toomey, Sara Sigmundsdottir, they’re separated by about 20
points, just over 20 points, and there’s four events remaining. Now Sara Sigmundsdottir
has come to Columbus with more than just a great tan, she is looking like a monster. I mean, when we first saw
her come onto the scene, the potential for a future
CrossFit Games champion was clearly there. And I think she’s just
lacked the perfect season, she hasn’t really been
able to put it together. Last year, she looked pretty beastly, except she kind of had this
major injury on her ribs and that makes a really big difference when it comes to being able
to finish a competition. So now that she’s healthy, she’s fit, she’s back and she’s better than ever, it’s important that we see
her truly step up to the plate and crush competitions like this. And it’s exciting to
see that she’s actually doing really well compared to a field that is really stacked. I mean, she’s ahead of the other Dottirs, she’s ahead of Annie Thorisdottir
and Katrin Davidsdottir, two previous two time champions. She’s just behind Tia-Clair Toomey who is, honestly, not to downplay
what she’s doing, she is putting on a clinic, I mean, after that first
event, Rory interviewed her and she basically said
it was a walk in the park and it was an easy start to the day so there’s always that but either way, the importance here is that
Sara Sigmundsdottir is looking and performing at a very high level. This is a perfect time in the
season for her to be here. I imagine that she is
going to be even more of a finely tuned machine when it comes to the CrossFit Games and
that is a competition that I’m really excited to see. Sort of, Sara 2.0 make a debut at. On the men’s side, I also strongly suggest you
keep your eyes on Chandler Smith and no, he is not some
long lost Smith brother, Chandler Smith sort of came out of nowhere a few years ago at regionals, he just barely missed qualifying
out of the Atlantic region and he was a fan favorite
right from the get go. He’s honest, he’s open, he’s really, really talented at fitness. I think the workout where
he really made a splash had 405lb deadlifts in it that
he was just throwing around for no problem and his GHD sit-ups are incredible quick as well. But either way, Chandler
Smith made it super clear that one of his big goals was to make it to the
CrossFit Games by 2022. He competed at regionals,
he barely missed it, it kind of changed the,
I’d say the roadmap of his competitive CrossFit career. But he’s in the military and
that takes precedence for him, so this former wrestler, in the military, he is obviously putting
his priorities first, but he’s kept himself incredibly fit, he had an opportunity to
come out to Rogue to compete and here he is, not just eking his way out among a field of
pre-qualified Games athletes, I mean, you could probably take 12th and still qualify for the Games, get an invite for the CrossFit Games out of the Rogue Invitational because of how many individual
athletes are already there. He’s neck in neck with some of the best CrossFit Games athletes in the sport, I mean he’s really not that far, only a couple of spots behind Mat Fraser and that is saying something when you have a guy in Chandler Smith who has yet to prove himself
on the biggest stage, kind of proving himself
on the next best thing. Lastly, huge shout out to Catlin Meade, now this is an interesting story, CrossFit Balance, one of
their members broke a finger and had a laceration on her
hand after the first event so she had to (clicks with tongue) kick out of the competition and they kind of just pulled
Catlin Meade from the crowd. Now she’s a member of that gym, I think she’s probably, obviously
knows them to some extent but she’s not a Games athlete, she’s not going to be competing in Madison in individual or a team
division either way. However, she clearly
became a huge favorite for all the spectators
specifically at the tail end of the team Chipper event where it was a you go I go heavy snatches situation and the weight was just
about at or slightly below or slightly above her existing PR and she took a couple of attempts at it, missed it and finally made it with thousands of cheering fans and then, on top of that by the way, she just hit it a few more
times before the time cap ended. So congratulations to Catlin
Meade for really stepping it up and putting herself out there in a way that I think a lot of
people probably wouldn’t have and reaping the rewards of that which is getting to snatch heavy weights in front of thousands
and thousands of people. I mean there are Olympians
who have never done that, so way to go, that’s awesome. Remember folks, there’s a
whole lot going on our sport and it’s easy to miss some of the most interesting
and exciting stories, that is what I am here for. There are three, count them! Three sanctionals going on this weekend, with superstars competing
at every single one of them. I mean, if you just pluck
Rogue out of the mix you still have the Down
Under CrossFit championship that has Jacob Heppner
competing against a home crowd of Australians who are out for blood, they’re like, you are not going to be able to come into our house
and try and beat us. And they’re really putting up a great competition against him. And in Brazil we see The
Cowboy, Sean Sweeney, being The Cowboy, Sean Sweeney, but with Brazilians and in Portuguese and we are watching Will
Moorad, Saxon Panchik, Spencer Panchik fight it out for one of those invitation
spots to the CrossFit Games. It’s very exciting stuff,
there’s a lot going on, I’m gonna do general recaps on those after all of
that is said and done, over the course of next week. There’s a lot to talk about, I mean, Hunter got the Blowhard
invite to the CrossFit Games like, Greg Glassman just
(clicks tongue) said it, and that is pretty much how that works, so there’s that that
we have to talk about. Anyway, there is a lot going on, it is easy to miss things, that is what I’m here for and
I appreciate your support. If you like this stuff, please share it, subscribe, tell your friends about it. You know what, I’m not
even going to say please, just do it, just share, just subscribe, just tell your friends about it. How hard could that be? Let’s keep this thing going folks. I’ll see you guys next time.

23 COMMENTS

    Wondering how hard Vellner will really be able to push Mat when he’s working full time. It might be next year when we really see him come to the fore.

    Rogue website has Mat Fraser ahead of Vellner at end of day 1.. Fraser 422, Vellner 382… I thought Vellner was ahead?

    Honestly Armen – i love your commentary – but I think I love that you're a legitimate fan! Thanks again for your timely segments. I enjoy them every time. I really enjoyed your enthusiasm about speaking to the 'legends sideshow'. Seeing Annie, or Miko or Josh, or Dan competing again was a HUGE buzz . . . Who has possibly not felt a chill in watching 'nasty girls' for the first time?

    You coverage continues to become better while staying consistent in providing insight and overviews. Thank you AH

    Chandler Smith actually lost part of his finger the year after his regionals appearance. I think that played a big role in his setback

    This was everything I hoped the games could be. Greatest show on Earth. And the legends category was so good.

    Between the legends, having bill and Sean do commentary, and visuals…anyone else think the games won’t even be this good?

    Feel like the Rogue invitational will be to the CrossFit Games what the Arnold Classic is to the Mr. Olympia… Both in Columbus Ohio!

    Fraser does what Fraser does and by the end of it, he was back to just leaving the field behind. Same with Tia. It's hard to imagine anyone beating either Fraser or Toomey.

    You were spot on about earlier heats and my husband and I would talk about this every year during regionals and The Games. Rogue Invitational was the only sanctioned event I watched they did amazing!!

    The Rogue Invitational made me excited to watch Crossfit again. It had that Regional feel. Coverage was awesome. Only had like 1 to 2 heats which was awesome. Great competition with household names. Was so happy to see Chander Smith make it to the Games. I could not be more happy with how everything went. A++++

    Love your passion Armen, you are a real crossfit aficionado, not many would understand the relevance of the split snatch.

    Rogue did it right. It gives me some hope for the future. If The Crossfit Games falls flat I think Rogue could take it over for the future.

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