World’s Strongest Man 2016 – Predictions
All 5 Heats have taken place, and tonight, January 1st 2017, the WSM Final will take place to decide just who is the WORLD’S STRONGEST MAN. Here are the 10 athletes looking to take the title:
Martins Licis – USA
Matjaz Belsak – Slovenia
Eddie Hall – Great Britain
Grzegorz Szymanski – Poland
Hafthor Bjornsson – Iceland
Konstantine Janashia – Georgia
JF Caron – Canada
Laurence Shahlaei – Great Britain
Brian Shaw – USA (Current Champion)
Mateusz Kieliszkowski – Poland
Some very well known names in that list, along with some newcomers too. However, there is one HUGE name missing from that list; Zydrunas Savickas. The 4 time WSM and perhaps the single greatest Strongman ever, is missing from this years competition due to an injury, and while that isn’t good for him, it opens up a spot on the podium for someone else, as he has never failed to make it to the podium in all his years of competing.
The heats were a very good indication as to who THE top guys might be this year. Thor managed a total of 40 points out of 42 available, with Shaw coming just behind him in his heat with 39.5. A big surprise is the new American Martins Licis who dominated the first heat and finished with 38 points overall. Eddie Hall got 36.5, which is an impressive number overall, BUT he did it with 2 dislocated fingers. While he won’t have had much time to rest them between his heat and the final, you have to believe he will be capable of a little bit more when the title is on the line. Thor and Shaw being 2 of the top men is no surprise, same for Hall, as they have been in the top 4 athletes in the world along with Zydrunas Savickas. However, with Big Z injured, Martin Licis could become the next big name in the sport and occupy one of those top 4 positions. However the 2 Polish athletes in the final looked very impressive as well, especially Kieliszowski who was pushing the champion Brian Shaw to his limits in some of the events. Then we have the Canadian JF Caron, who for the last couple of years has dominated his heat to get to the final, and seems to improve each and ever year. Along with him is the current Europe’s Strongest Man Laurence Shahlaei, making an epic comeback following a near career ending injury. Counting these 2 men out would be a mistake, as Laurence has made top 4 before, and Caron never gives up. For me, Belsak and Kanashia might be the 2 “weakest” picks in the final this year. Kanashia is still very new, and while he DID manage to push out Terry Hollands from the qualifying places, Terry wasn’t exactly competing at his best following a year in retirement. Belsak, while not exactly new, is still young and probably has an equal amount of bad events to good events.
So just WHO do I think will win the 2016 World’s Strongest Man later tonight? For the first time since I’ve been doing these WSM blog posts, I have decided to go ahead and give my predictions for ALL TEN places! The odds of me being 100% right are… well, insanely high, but my #1 pick is all that truly matters in the end I guess.
10 – Konstantine Janashia
Being so new, I think he will make some mistakes in the final with technique, plus going up against some of the best in the world for the last 5+ years might very well show us how much more he needs to improve.
9 – Matjaz Belsak
Like I said, he isn’t new to the sport, but with as many bad events as good, losing even just a couple of points here and there on events can drop him down the leader board just like that. Give it another few years and he could very well place top 5 though.
8 – Grzegorz Szymanski
A good showing in the heats, he showed us that he’s fast and strong. However, being in the company that he’ll be in for the final, I think we’ll see that he’s just not quite as fast or as strong as some of the others.
7 – JF Caron
Boy, this is harder than I expected. Everyone left genuinely has a shot at a podium finish, so picking who might be “only” number 7 was hard. Caron, while dominant in the heats, never seems to have the same luck in the final, which is the only reason I have him this low.
6 – Mateusz Kieliszkowski
Give it a couple more years and this man could be the next Mariusz Pudzianowski. He isn’t the BIGGEST guy in terms of height, weight or just muscle, but he still possesses great strength, speed and endurance just like the great Mariusz did. Coming 3rd in the Arnold Strongman Classic shows just how good he is. However, mention of a back injury during his time in the heats might be what prevents him from doing any better than 6th imo. In the final, the weights will be heavier and the competition fiercer, which is where that back injury might really come into play.
5 – Laurence Shahlaei
What? Europe’s Strongest Man only at number 5? Well, yes. And this again boils down to the guys we still have left lol. As good as Shahlaei is, and as great as his comeback was to become the strongest man in Europe, I just feel that he’ll fall a little behind in some events when going up against Brain Shaw and Eddie Hall. That being said, I do also feel he could take that other podium position with Big Z injured.
4 – Martins Licis
A newcomer, yes, but holy crap did he DOMINATE the first heat and looked like he was always a top strongman athlete. While we’ve only seen 2 Americans win WSM since the days of Bill Kazmaier (Phil Pfister and Brian Shaw), the last decade has given us some great American strongmen who have made it to the podium a number of times, and given us 4 champions too. Martins Licis could be another one of those men, perhaps not winning, but definitely being one of the best with all the potential in the world to make the podium.
3 – Eddie Hall
THE BEAST. Last year he told everyone he would be in the top 4. And he was. He also told everyone he would deadlift 500kg. And he DID. A 6 time UK’s Strongest Man and a 3 time Britain’s Strongest Man, Eddie Hall, dislocated fingers or not, HAS to be one of the favourites to land on the podium, and honestly would still have been had Big Z not been injured. He is simply THAT GOOD.
2 – Brian Shaw
Yes, the defending champion is only number 2. He looked fantastic in the heats, and was clearly holding back in a few of the events, but Brian Shaw has never successfully defended his title. While he WANTS to change that, I just feel that the fact he hasn’t might mentally effect him and prevent him from doing so. No other reason, really, because he is still in top form and I definitely think he’ll become at least a 4 time champion in the future.
1 – Hafthor Bjornsson
THOR! I feel that his time is now. He’s finished 4th, 3rd and 2nd in the past, been a multi-time Europe’s Strongest Man, and might very well be in the best shape ever this year despite losing to Shahlaei in ESM. He was the best overall in the heats, and his sheer desire to finally win after coming so close in the past (he was half a point behind Big Z in 2014). And honestly, it would just be nice to see another Icelander win the title again. Jon Pall Sigmarsson and Magnus Ver Magnusson, both 4 time winners, were two of my all time favourites in the sport. Poland, America and Lithuania have dominated since 2001, so its time for the land of Fire and Ice to finally return!
And there you have it! My official pick for WSM 2016 is Hafthor Bjornsson! Stay tuned for my write up of the final later tonight, but before then, I’ll have a video review of an old World’s Strongest Man video game!!!