2022 World’s Strongest Man — Group Stage Predictions
Evan Singleton Withdraws From 2022 World’s Strongest Man Due To Injury.
The groups for the 2022 World’s Strongman Man (WSM) Qualifying Groups have been announced, and speculation about which strongmen will earn their way to the Final is underway. The six strongmen in each of the five groups will clash in five events over three days — May 24-26, 2022. The winner of each group will advance to the Final, and the second and third-place finishers will go head-to-head in a Stone-Off.
The five events of the group stage are the Loading Race and Deadlift Ladder on day one, the Car Walk and the Log Lift on day two, and the Wrecking Ball Hold and Stone-Off on day three. Below are predictions of how each group will fare and who will likely make it to the 2022 WSM Final.
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein 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.
Below is a breakdown for each group in the Qualifying stage with their predicted rank and who wins the Stone-Off. Bolded athletes in each group are those predicted to advance to the Final.
Group 1 has a glaring front-runner — reigning WSM champion Tom Stoltman. Not only is Stoltman poised to win the group, but the insurance policy of a Stone-Off almost guarantees him a spot.
In 2021, Stoltman got to the Final via a Stone-Off against Mark Felix and won that battle pretty handily. The Atlas Stones are the bread and butter for Stoltman, so if he is going to rank high in the group, it would be potentially advantageous for the other strongmen to let him take first; that way, they don’t face him in the Stone-Off.
Stoltman is a beast in the medley events — winning the Loading Medley in Group 2 in 2021 — and has significantly improved his deadlift since 2020. Bank on him getting the opportunity to defend his title in the Final.
As for the rest of the group, on paper, Šmaukstelis and Faires are the two men likeliest to clash in the Stone-Off. They are WSM veterans and Faires barely missed the 2021 WSM Final after losing a close Stone-Off against Luke Stoltman. Notably, he lifted the same number of Stones as Luke, but as he ranked third in their group, the initiative* was on him to lift first successfully.
The athlete ranked third in each group is tasked to lift first in the Stone-Off. The first athlete to fail to stone lift first is eliminated, giving a significant advantage to whoever is ranked second in the group.
O’Dwyer was slated to return to the WSM stage. He ranked fourth in his Group in 2020. However, on May 23, the night before the contest starts, the Irish strongman dropped out for reasons unknown. Andy Black of the UK is taking his place. This is Black’s first WSM. According to Strongman Archives, Black’s best showing was a third-place finish at the 2021 UK’s Strongest Man.
Rhéaume is the 2021 Canada’s Strongest Man (CSM) champion and making his WSM debut in 2022. He would need to post the performance of his career to earn his way to the Final via the Stone-Off, but youth is on his side — he’s 25 years old. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Angulo is making his WSM debut at age 44, making him the second oldest man in the field behind Mark Felix. It would be the underdog story of the Qualifying stage if Angulo could best the rest of the pack to join Stoltman in the Final.
Group 2 indicates how stacked this year’s WSM contest is. At 56 years of age, Felix is still competing at the elite level. Although he hasn’t made a WSM Final since 2015, he is often a lock to win any grip-based event, which the Wrecking Ball Hold is. If he is anywhere in the mix for third place entering the third day of competition, he will undoubtedly shake up the standings with a strong finish in that event and potentially contest for a spot in the Stone-Off. Unfortunately, his competition in this group is a who’s who of heavy hitters.
Four-time WSM champion Brian Shaw has his eye on tying five-time WSM champion Mariusz Pudzianowski for most WSM titles. Shaw forewent competing in any other strongman contest thus far in 2022, focusing solely on this contest. He is no stranger to competing under pressure and holds the record for most consecutive WSM Finals appearances at 13. As the tallest (six-foot, eight inches) and heaviest (hovering around 400 pounds) athlete in Group 2, events like the Car Walk position him as a front-runner to win this group and reach his 14th straight WSM Final. Even at 40 years of age, Shaw is the pick to win Group 2.