2023 World’s Strongest Man Final Predictions – Fitnessnacks

    The 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Final in Myrtle Beach, SC, has its roster of 10 athletes who advanced through the Qualifying Stage. It includes:

    In addition to Kordiyaka, three other strongmen are making their WSM Final debuts:

    Let’s break down the six events scheduled for the two-day Final and assess which athletes will excel where in an attempt to peer into the future and predict who will stand on the podium.

    [Related: 2023 World’s Strongest Man Results and Leaderboard]

    Oleksii NovikovImage courtesy of World’s Strongest Man

    Editor’s Note: This article is an op-ed by BarBend‘s Senior Editor, Phil Blechman, who is covering the 2023 WSM live in Myrtle Beach, SC. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

    For reference, here is the 2023 WSM Final event schedule:

    Final Day One

    Ten athletes will advance from the Qualifying stage to the Final.

    • Event One — Fingal’s Fingers — April 22 | 8 a.m., Street Stage
    • Event Two — KNAACK Deadlift — April 22 | 10:41 a.m., Sand Stage
    • Event Three — Reign Shield Carry — April 22 | 2:18 p.m., Street Stage

    Final Day Two

    • Event Four — Max Dumbbell — April 23 | 8 a.m., Land Stage
    • Event Five — Vehicle Pull — April 23 | 10:10 a.m., Street Stage
    • Event Six — Atlas Stones — April 23 | 1:54 p.m., Sand Stage

    Here is an assessment of each event, followed by results predictions for each.

    Fingal’s Fingers Prediction

    1. Tom Stoltman
    2. Brian Shaw
    3. Mitchell Hooper
    4. Oleksii Novikov
    5. Luke Stoltman
    6. Pavlo Kordiyaka
    7. Evan Singleton
    8. Jaco Schoonwinkel
    9. Trey Mitchell
    10. Mathew Ragg

    The Fingal’s Fingers naturally advantage the taller and heavier athletes. Physics plays a role when leveraging a large beam over a fulcrum. However, there is the variable of racing to each finger to flip them in the fastest possible time. Historically, the last finger is too much of a hurdle for even the strongest in the world to slip through the adrenaline of a time constraint.

    Expect Tom Stoltman and Brian Shaw to excel as the biggest athletes in the field. In the 2021 WSM contest, only Shaw completed all five fingers. Stoltman was untested in the event as not every group competed in the same events in that contest. However, Stoltman is faster on his feet and likely has the edge, given the expectation that the two 6’8 tall titans flip every finger.

    WSM_Day_1_2018Image courtesy of World’s Strongest Man

    Novikov was extremely fast through four fingers in 2021 and has only gotten stronger since then. He and Hooper display similar dynamics of moving very fast with heavy weights in hand. Both guys could legitimately score each implement, but at minimum, they’ll clear most of them in swift fashion to be high up the leaderboard.

    Kordiyaka is a mystery here in that he is the lightest athlete in the Final, but he lifts with precise technique. Since mass moves mass is significant for the fingers, Kordiyaka is unlikely to oust the bigger guys in this event and is likely strategizing where he can make up the points as such.

    Ragg and Mitchell are heavy hitters that have shown up big when they’ve needed to in the Qualifying stage. Speed is neither man’s strength, and that could cost them time against guys like Novikov and Hooper. However, they certainly have the strength to flip all five fingers. Having less height than Shaw and Stoltman and, therefore, less leverage means their task is more challenging, but a mid-pack result would be a good opening event for them.

    WSM_Day_1_0586Image courtesy of World’s Strongest Man

    Schoonwinkel has been impressive through Qualifying despite having a relatively shallow competitive strongman resume absent any major contest victory. His performance thus far is reminiscent of Hooper’s WSM debut in 2021, so if and when he shows out in his heat, don’t be surprised — the big guy can move. 

    Singleton and Luke Stoltman often post their best results under the competitive pressure of another athlete running alongside them. Who they run against in their heat is likely to be more influential than most for this reason. If Luke battles against Novikov and Singleton battles against Hooper, expect their times to be faster than they would be against the battlecruisers like Ragg and Mitchell.

    KNAACK Deadlift

    1. Mitchell Hooper
    2. Oleksii Novikov
    3. Trey Mitchell 
    4. Brian Shaw 
    5. Tom Stoltman
    6. Mathew Ragg
    7. Jaco Schoonwinkel 
    8. Evan Singleton
    9. Luke Stoltman
    10. Pavlo Kordiyaka

    The deadlift is a wide-open event this year. The depth of talent amongst this roster in this event is unparalleled from years past. Presuming the KNAACK Deadlift is a repeat of the 2021 event (i.e., for reps), work capacity will play a significant role that favors guys like Novikov, Hooper, Mitchell, and Shaw.

    Athletes can tie on reps and sift points strangely down the board, meaning this could move the needle on the overall leaderboard minorly or significantly depending on the spread.

    Mitchell HooperImage courtesy of World’s Strongest Man

    Novikov, Hooper, and Mitchell have been untouchable in these kinds of deadlift events over the past handful of years. The top end of this result is interchangeable, and the result of the first event could be an influential factor.

    Shaw can pull heavy but is unlikely to cycle the barbell as fast as his shorter counterparts. The same is true for Tom Stoltman. Kordiyaka could easily bounce up the leaderboard if he is comfortable with fast reps of nearly 800 pounds in his hands.

    Singleton trains heavy deadlifts often and could make this prediction an absolute embarrassment. Let’s hope he does because his Qualifying stage performance was nothing short of stellar at every turn, and a run on the podium would be exciting in his WSM Final debut.

    Reign Shield Carry

    1. Oleksii Novikov
    2. Pavlo Kordiyaka
    3. Mitchell Hooper
    4. Trey Mitchell 
    5. Tom Stoltman
    6. Jaco Schoonwinkel
    7. Evan Singleton
    8. Brian Shaw
    9. Luke Stoltman
    10. Mathew Ragg

    The Shield Carry is the event that marks what is likely to be a significant shift towards the athletes who are better suited to score on the back of their athleticism. Novikov and Kordiyaka will excel here, similarly to how they did on Conan’s Wheel. Hooper, likewise, will go yard with this shield.

    The heavier guys inherently have to move more weight through more space over the same distance. That doesn’t bode well in an event that cares about distance. If it’s for a run for time, maybe there would be a more significant shakeup, but otherwise, expect glory to Ukraine.

    Max Dumbbell

    1. Oleksii Novikov
    2. Mitchell Hooper
    3. Pavlo Kordiyaka
    4. Tom Stoltman
    5. Trey Mitchell
    6. Brian Shaw
    7. Luke Stoltman
    8. Evan Singleton
    9. Jaco Schoonwinkel
    10. Mathew Ragg

    Novikov is undeniable in this event. He is to the Heavy Dumbbell what Tom Stoltman is to the Atlas Stones. Hopefully, we live in the timeline where Ragg and Schoonwinkel make a mockery of this and dart up the leaderboard in their WSM debuts.

    Much of this event is about technique. All these guys are strong enough to move the weights they’ll be presented with. The precise technicians will excel here, hence the top of the predictions.

    Mitchell HooperImage courtesy of World’s Strongest Man

    Mitchell displayed a significant improvement in this event at the 2022 Rogue Strongman Invitational. The nod to Tom Stoltman finishing ahead of Mitchell here is Stoltman feeling the heat of his title potentially slipping away from him. When the champ’s throne is threatened, the heat in the kingdom swells.

    Vehicle Pull

    1. Tom Stoltman 
    2. Oleksii Novikov
    3. Mitchell Hooper
    4. Pavlo Kordiyaka
    5. Brian Shaw
    6. Jaco Schoonwinkel
    7. Trey Mitchell
    8. Evan Singleton
    9. Mathew Ragg
    10. Luke Stoltman

    Mitchell has most definitely improved his vehicle pull from the 2021 WSM contest, where he pulled a bus despite having never performed the event in his life. His finish should be starkly better here, but not necessarily ahead of the athletes that have more experience with it.

    Tom Stoltman has previously said on camera that vehicle pulls are not his forte, but he consistently performs well in them despite that. Size, speed, and power are potent for success. Novikov beat Stoltman in the Bus Pull at the 2021 WSM contest, but Novikov had the leader’s advantage of knowing the time to beat. Will history repeat itself? 

    Atlas Stones

    1. Tom Stoltman
    2. Mitchell Hooper
    3. Oleksii Novikov
    4. Pavlo Kordiyaka
    5. Evan Singleton
    6. Jaco Schoonwinkel
    7. Luke Stoltman
    8. Brian Shaw
    9. Trey Mitchell
    10. Mathew Ragg

    Tom Stoltman is not losing in the Atlas Stones. The only time Stoltman is not on top in the stones is when he makes a mistake. In both years that he’s won the WSM contest, he has had to win in this event. He did it against Shaw in 2021 and against Novikov in 2022. The king of the stones is grounded under pressure on this stage and should defend the crown nobly here.

    The Atlas Stones at the end of WSM is a high-variance event as athletes know how high they can rank and who they need to beat to achieve their best possible result. As such, athletes often go for broke, leading to higher-risk runs that don’t always end in success.

    Tom StoltmanImage courtesy of World’s Strongest Man

    Luke Stoltman’s last several years at the WSM are representative of this. In 2022, Luke Stoltman finished seventh overall at WSM, but in reality, he was in contention for the podium heading into the Atlas Stones. An all-out run in the final event didn’t go his way and slid him down the ranks. Final results are often referenced but nary indicative of the full reality of the happenings.

    2023 World’s Strongest Man Final Predictions Overall

    Let’s preface that any combination of the top four listed above scrambled in any order would come to an approximately equivalent lack of surprise.

    1. Oleksii Novikov — 53
    2. Tom Stoltman — 49
    3. Mitchell Hooper — 49
    4. Pavlo Kordiyaka — 38.5
    5. Brian Shaw — 32
    6. Trey Mitchell — 30
    7. Jaco Schoonwinkel — 23.5
    8. Evan Singleton — 22.5
    9. Luke Stoltman — 19.5
    10. Mathew Ragg — 12

    The top four athletes have the most favorable layout of events in the Final. Perhaps Stoltman having the champion’s edge could put him over. However, the events seem most conducive to Novikov’s skillset. With the hunger he showed in the Qualifying stage, expect Novikov to capitalize on every inch he’s given.

    Tom Stoltman and Hooper tying on points means Stoltman would take silver for a better tiebreaker time via the Atlas Stones. Kordiyaka has been too impressive over the past several contests not to rank highly going into events that are favorable to him aside from the deadlift. 

    Admittedly, Ragg and Schoonwinkel remain untested wildcards in this arena. Given their impressive Qualifying stage performances, they certainly could pull the rug out from under the entire competition like Hooper did in 2022 and obsolete this list. May those I predicted to win, win triumphantly, and may those who I predicted to fall short prove me embarrassingly and devastatingly wrong.

    2023 World’s Strongest Man Qualifying Event Results and Recaps

    If you missed out on following the action during the first two days of competition, get caught up on everything you missed here. And don’t forget to stay tuned to BarBend‘s event coverage of the Final on April 22 and 23.

    Featured image courtesy of World’s Strongest Man

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