New Team Format to Debut in Dubai

Written by Brian Friend

For the first time ever Dubai will feature a team competition, and for the first time ever in an official CrossFit sanctioned event, teams comprised of individuals who don’t train at the same affiliate will be competing. It’s a very exclusive field, much like the Games will be, as only 10 teams qualified to compete.

The Favorites:

Most are looking at the super team featuring American women Cassidy Lance-McWherter and Jen Smith and Swiss powerhouses Adrian Mundwiler and Lukas Esslinger as favorites to win and earn the first qualifying ticket to Madison on the team side of things, but it won’t be a clear cut path to victory for them.

The historic and iconic Invictus brand has qualified two teams for Dubai. Invictus X, who took second place at the CrossFit Games this past August returns all 4 members from their team (Sam and Jenn Dancer, Holden Rethwill, and Kaitlyn Kassis) . Their other team, simply called Invictus, features 4 members who have all competed at the Games as individuals in Lauren Fisher, Rasmus Andersen, Tommy Vinas, and Regan Huckaby . Two of the four of them also have Games experience on a team, Lauren in 2013 and Rasmus in 2014 were members of Team Invictus.

Invictus X is full of exceptionally talented individuals with the added bonus of having experience competing together. That should not be underestimated when they’re going against a team of 4 individuals who lack experience in a team format together.

Invictus is led by Rasmus Andersen who spent a year in the UAE coaching. He also has done very well in the Dubai Fitness Championship in the past as an individual where he’s finished third twice (2015 and 2017). Lauren also lived in the UAE for 8-9 months last season qualifying from the Meridian Regional alongside Rasmus, so they certainly will not be strangers to the climate or event. This team has been training together in Southern California, and like Invictus X, will hold that edge over a team like Lance-McWherter, Smith, Mundwiler, and Esslinger, who will have had significantly less time to train as a unit.

The Contenders:

There are two other American teams to take notice of as well:

The Central Beasts may not be well known names (Emma Chapman, Nicole Holcomb, Joseph Tortora, and Zach Sowder), but they have a plethora of experience. All four members have multiple Regional appearances, Joseph and Zach competed at Dubai as individual athletes last year, and Nicole has been to the Games twice as an individual, including 2015 when she finished 15th overall. They lack the experience on a team and it may hold them back, but individually they are all great athletes.

Team Omnicide will draw many eyes because it features the return of Chandler Smith to the competition floor. Many will remember his incredible finish on the heavy deadlifts at Regionals against Ben Smith from 2016. Others will recall the tragic incident in which he lost part of his finger the following season. He teams up with Games Teams and Individual athlete Travis Williams, and a couple of women in Andrea Nisler and Taylor Williamson who many won’t know by name, but who are very experienced team competitors. In fact, this past year they stood on the podium together in Madison taking third place in the team competition with CrossFit OC3. Taylor has been a member of that team for the last 3 years, Andrea had previously been on the illustrious Timberwolf Crossfit team, which qualified for the CrossFit Games every single year the affiliate cup was in existence.

The Deciding Factors:

The ability to communicate with just a look can only be developed through time spent together in training, and in competition, that quality gives a team a massive advantage. Invictus X took second at the 2018 Games for a reason. Individually, they may not be the most talented in the field, but collectively, they’re the best team. The Swiss team will be in it until the end, but I don’t think they’ll have enough to take down Invictus X.

I’m picking Omnicide for the final podium spot for similar reasons. At the Games this year many were looking at Don’t Stop, or Reebok CrossFit One, because those teams were comprised of past individual competitors like Travis Williams, Jordan Cook, Sheila Barden, Austin Malleolo, and Spencer Hendel, but in the end, it was the team with experience from OC3 that claimed the final podium spot. The women on Omnicide are incredible team athletes, Travis and Chandler should be able to do enough to hold off the other Invictus team for the final podium spot.

However it shakes down in the end, the team competition in Dubai will be historic, and you won’t want to miss it.

Team Predictions:
  1. 1st - Invictus X
  2. 2nd - Cassidy, Jen, Adrian, Lukas E
  3. 3rd - Omnicide
  4. 4th - Invictus
  5. 5th - Central Beasts
  6. 6th - CrossFit Pro1
  7. 7th - Superheroproject
  8. 8th - Team Butcher’s Lab
  9. 9th - Team Sweden
  10. 10th - Training Think Tank

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