The 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) is lastly right here. Probably the most prestigious competitors within the sport traversed the USA to Myrtle Seashore, SC, to host the 30-athlete roster is lush summer time climate on the seaside as a substitute of the 100-plus-degree infernos of Sacramento, CA, within the peak of summer time from the previous two years.
The Qualifying stage includes the primary two days of competitors (April 19-20), with three events on each day earlier than a relaxation day (April 21), adopted by the 10-athlete Ultimate over the weekend (April 22-23). BarBend is on the bottom reside in Myrtle Seashore to cowl all of the strongman motion, and what higher technique to kick issues off than speculative predictions about who will advance to the Ultimate?
[Read More: Bill Kazmaier and the Birth of the Modern Strongman]
Editor’s Notice: This text is an op-ed by BarBend‘s Senior Editor, Phil Blechman, who’s overlaying the 2023 WSM reside in Myrtle Seashore, SC. The views expressed herein and within the video are the writer’s and don’t essentially mirror the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced solely by the writer.
Qualifying Stage Predictions
As is customary for WSM, the Qualifying stage options five groups of six athletes. Every group’s athletes are solely competing in opposition to one another in Qualifying, vying to win the group to advance to the Ultimate or rank second or third to compete within the Stone Off occasion on Day Two.
Second and third-place finishers in every group will go head-to-head within the Stone Off — an Atlas Stone occasion comprised of six more and more heavy stones. Whoever fails to elevate a stone first will probably be eradicated because the winner advances to the Ultimate with their group’s champion. Listed here are the six occasions slated for the Qualifying stage:
Qualifying Stage Day One
- Occasion One — Loading Race — April 19 | 8 a.m., Sand Stage
- Occasion Two — Deadlift Machine — April 19 | 11:29 a.m., Land Stage
- Occasion Three — Log Ladder — April 19 | 4:49 p.m., Sand Stage
Qualifying Stage Day Two
- Occasion 4 — Conan’s Wheel — April 20 | 8 a.m., Land Stage
- Occasion 5 — Kettlebell Toss — April 20 | 1:20 p.m., Sand Stage
- Occasion Six — Stone Off — April 20 | 6:13 p.m., Land Stage
Under are the teams as they have been introduced in the future earlier than the competitors started and predictions as to who will emerge victorious:
The 2 athletes predicted to advance in every group are bolded below every group’s “Prediction” part.
- Winner — Tom Stoltman
- Stone-Off — Pavlo Kordiyaka def. Bobby Thompson
The favourite in Group One is undoubtedly the reigning WSM champ, Tom Stoltman. Anybody who says in any other case just isn’t being critical. He persistently shows his agility in loading occasions and gained the ladder occasions in 2022 en path to successful his group. Whereas it’s unlikely for that to vary this 12 months, Stoltman will face a difficult path to the Ultimate.
Kordiyaka is coming off a stellar win on the 2023 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) contest and seems in one of the best form of his profession. He’s an all-around star who might threaten to win any occasion he’s in and gained much-needed WSM expertise in 2022. He ought to pose tight races in opposition to Stoltman all through, however Stoltman’s prowess within the Kettlebell Toss will get Stoltman the nod for the group win.
Thompson bread and butter occasions — log press and deadlift — make-up two-thirds of the primary day. If he reveals up in prime type, he might construct a pleasant level buffer to, at minimal, lock up a spot within the Stone Off. Probably the most important hurdle for Thompson is the pace of the opposite favorites within the group — Stoltman and Kordiyaka.
Though a cheesy malfunction fiasco fumbled Thompson’s WSM Ultimate hopes in 2022, he’s no stranger to successful in Qualifying, as he completed simply that in 2021. If Kordiyaka can rack up a second-place end within the group, a Stone-Off for the ages might occur between him and Thompson, with the benefit of lifting second because the deciding variable.
Janashia is a wildcard on this group. Most years, he appears nice — he’s reached 5 WSM Finals in his six profession WSM appearances. Nonetheless, 2022 was his first miss, when he ranked fifth out of six in his group. He’s in a stacked group, and the three aforementioned strongmen in his group will probably be robust to beat.
O’Dwyer was a late addition to the WSM roster. If he skilled as if he was competing in WSM throughout prep, then maybe he might make a run in his sophomore WSM look (he debuted in 2020), however it’s a lengthy shot given Stoltman’s reign and Kordiyaka’s present heater.
Likewise, Eddie Williams is making his second profession WSM look this 12 months — he completed in fifth of 5 in his 2019 WSM group. Up to now in his profession, Williams has not tasted victory exterior his house nation of Australia. With such a difficult group, he would wish the efficiency of a lifetime to beat the percentages.
- Winner — Oleskii Novikov
- Stone-Off — Luke Stoltman def. Thomas Evans
Group Two feels a bit simpler to foretell than Group One. Not due to the caliber of the athletes however reasonably how they line up with the scheduled occasions. Novikov is the far-and-away front-runner to assert the gold on this group. The entire occasions apart from the Kettlebell Toss are effectively inside Novikov’s fortes, and he was dominant within the medleys and ladder occasions in 2022. Anticipate the 2020 WSM champ to succeed in the Ultimate and contend for the second WSM title of his profession.
Luke Stoltman has struggled in his final two aggressive appearances — final place on the 2022 Shaw Classic on account of damage and ninth place on the 2023 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC). Nonetheless, he skipped the 2023 ESM to raised put together for the 2023 WSM along with his brother. There definitely is a bonus with coaching with the reigning WSM champion hungry to three-peat, and Stoltman can maintain his personal to attain a runner-up end within the group and go over within the Stone-Off.
Evans was elevated to the WSM roster after Pavlo Nakonechnyy’s withdrawal as a result of knee damage sustained on the 2023 ASC. Evans completed fifth at that contest and proved he might grasp with one of the best on the earth. Anticipate him to hurry out of the gates hungry to proceed proving himself on the world stage.
Whereas Evans is WSM-caliber, Novikov will contend for the rostrum after narrowly dropping to Tom Stoltman in 2022, and Luke Stoltman is as constant on the WSM stage as they arrive — he hasn’t missed the WSM Ultimate since 2018.
Iron Biby is making his WSM debut and stepping out of his consolation zone of single-contest occasions. He posted a bronze end on the 2021 Strongman Classic, however that was a single-day occasion. Iron Biby is a drive of nature in maximal energy overhead events, however the Qualifying stage just isn’t conducive to that. As one of many heaviest athletes within the subject, he’ll possible wrestle with the requisite pace of the occasions, inflicting him to concede factors.
Bilton’s 2023 WSM story will possible be just like Iron Biby’s. The occasions should not conducive to his strengths. Bilton is a gradual workhorse, however he’s not successful the Kentucky Derby. If Bilton is to make the Ultimate, he ought to focus his efforts on staying forward of Evans to sq. up in opposition to Stoltman within the Stone-Off, the place his strength and endurance with heavy objects can shine.
In keeping with Strongman Archives, Fadi El Masri is an unknown on the WSM stage and has but to attain knowledgeable win in his profession to this point. That was the case for Mitchell Hooper final 12 months, and rating him to do poorly on account of lack of expertise was the most important failed prediction within the historical past of strongman predictions. So if El Masri is slated for a similar destiny, being overwhelmingly unsuitable about rating him to do poorly will probably be a pleasure to expertise.
- Winner — Mitchell Hooper
- Stone-Off — Mateusz Kieliszkowski def. Aivars Šmaukstelis
Hooper is among the favorites to dethrone Tom Stoltman. Hooper achieved arguably probably the most excellent rookie season within the sport’s historical past, together with an eighth-place end in his WSM debut in 2022, adopted by a win on the 2023 ASC. The occasions are all precisely aligned with Hooper’s athleticism. The battle between Hooper, Stoltman, and Novikov within the Ultimate will probably be one for the spotlight reel.
Šmaukstelis has been on a tear within the Strongman Champions League (SCL) over the previous 12 months and has a flare for spiking at massive contests. If this contest is a type of, he will probably be an unstoppable drive within the heavy occasions, and the Stone-Off is the place that issues most.
Nonetheless, the prediction is Šmaukstelis finishes third general and fails to beat the drawback of lifting first in opposition to Kieliszkowski, who can be wonderful on the stones. Hooper is an all-around technical genius within the sport with none obvious weaknesses after a 12 months of devoted strongman coaching. Kieliszkowski nonetheless has to are inclined to his just lately repaired triceps and his constant deficiency within the deadlift.
Kieliszkowski might very effectively set a world document on Conan’s Wheel, and other people would golf clap for him assembly the expectation as among the best, if not one of the best ever, on that form of implement. The deadlift will possible be sufficient of a concession to provide Hooper the general win. If Kieliszkowski can maintain onto second place and overcome Šmaukstelis within the stones, the Ultimate is a clear slate.
Spenser Remick and Matthew Ragg are each wonderful in overhead energy and may do injury within the deadlift. Like El Masri, they’re untested at this degree of competitors. Nothing warms the guts greater than figuring out both might pull a Hooper and make a mockery of those predictions, and writing an editor’s observe into this piece after the actual fact with a photograph of them wagging their finger in disgust at these predictions can be a delight.
- Winner — Adam Bishop
- Stone-Off — Brian Shaw def. Gabriel Rhéaume
If there have been a prediction at odds with a lot of the strongman world, this may possible be it. How can somebody not have Shaw successful the group in his last WSM contest ever when Shaw has reached the WSM Ultimate a document 14 consecutive instances?!
That’s a good evaluation however a bit at odds with the context of this contest. Bishop is coming off a win on the 2023 Britain’s Strongest Man (BSM) contest, and all of the occasions are in his wheelhouse. Fast-fire deadlifts, speedy log lifts, what’s to not like for Bishop?
Conversely, Shaw is coming off recovering from an an infection that threatened leg amputation, is among the older athletes within the subject at 41, and has the load of expectation to do effectively in his last bid to tie Mariusz Pudzianowski for the all-time document for extra WSM titles. Moreover, the pace occasions just like the Log Ladder and Loading Race should not the place Shaw shines.
Shaw must be a dominant drive within the Kettlebell Toss and maintain his personal within the Deadlift Machine if he’s one hundred pc. If he does that, he ought to lock a spot within the Stone-Off the place he might bury anybody standing throughout from him.
- Winner — Trey Mitchell
- Stone-Off — Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted def. Evan Singleton
Mitchell is a brick wall of calm, cool, and picked up consistency on the world stage. He has not but reached the WSM podium however has solely proven enhancements 12 months after 12 months, and if he brings his A-game, the one athletes within the subject able to beating him are within the different teams.
Deciding on Ingolfson Melsted over Singleton just isn’t a assured decide however is constructed from analyzing earlier performances at this degree. Ingolfsson Melsted routinely lands within the backside facet of the WSM Finals — tenth in 2021 and ninth in 2022. Singleton is a wrecking ball able to spiking any contest.
Nonetheless, Singleton has but to show himself in contests that aren’t single-day competitions. Singleton’s folly sometimes appears to be his incapacity to mood his depth when competing. That’s stellar for single-day competitions that reward going for broke on each occasion and throwing warning for the central nervous system to the wind.
However the WSM contest is lengthy. 4 days of competitors below the brightest lights require a composure that Singleton has not but demonstrated adeptly. May Singleton oust the competitors swiftly and beclown this whole article? Sure, and let’s hope he does — that may make for one hell of a present and a career-defining efficiency. Till then, the regular palms of Mitchell and Ingolfsson Melsted get the WSM Ultimate nod.
Shout out to Mark “Miracle Man” Felix — an absolute G.O.A.T. on this sport. Sadly, and not using a static maintain or grip occasion within the Qualifying stage and a weak spot in overhead occasions, Felix’s last stand on the WSM stage will possible finish in Qualifying. However to stay a aggressive menace at 57 years previous is unprecedented. It’s a blessing that we acquired to observe him compete for so long as we have now.
Fatesealing the Future
Right here is the expected 2023 WSM Ultimate roster:
- Tom Stoltman
- Pavlo Kordiyaka
- Oleskii Novikov
- Luke Stoltman
- Mitchell Hooper
- Mateusz Kieliszkowski
- Adam Bishop
- Brian Shaw
- Trey Mitchell
- Eythor Ingolfsson Melsted
The Loading Race begins vibrant and early at 8:00 a.m. EST, and it’s more likely to be stunning climate that can allow every strongman to convey their greatest. Better of luck to all 30 athletes within the subject — could these I predicted to win, win, and should these I predicted to return up brief show me so, so, so very splendidly unsuitable.
Featured picture: @theworldsstrongestman on Instagram