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The fifth qualifying group at the 2022 World’s Strongest Man features another Stoltman brother as a seeded athlete, as Luke Stoltman, twice 7th at WSM, headlines the group. The elder Stoltman proved his worth by winning Europe’s Strongest Man and the Giants Live World Tour Finals last year.

This group is the only one not to feature a former champion - in fact, it does not even feature a former top 5 finisher. Still, it is by no means an easy group. Evan Singleton has never made the WSM Final before, but this could very well be his year. Singleton won two Giants Live shows last year, proving his worth on the international scene. Eythór Ingólfsson Melsted, meanwhile, is looking to prove that his appearance in the 2021 Final wasn’t a fluke.

Three rookies will be competing in Group 2: Kelvin de Ruiter will be the first Dutch competitor since 2013 (Alex Moonen), Jean-Stephen Coraboeuf will be the first French competitor since 2000 (Jean-Marc Tocaven), and Kim Ujarak Lorentzen will be the first representative of Greenland in WSM history.

De Ruiter qualified by winning the 2021 Strongman Champions League World Finals, while Lorentzen is a multiple champion of Greenland’s Strongest Man. Coraboeuf won the Australian crown in 2019 - he has been living in Australia for many years but holds French citizenship, having grown up in New Caledonia.

The Events

Evan Singleton is normally terrific in loading events, but Luke Stoltman is no slouch either. There are many unknown quantities in this group… Perhaps one of the newcomers will surprise us in the Loading Race!

Singleton has also massively improved his deadlift in recent years, while it has been a tougher test for Stoltman. Another athlete to look out for in the Deadlift Ladder is Kim Ujarak Lorentzen, who has proven his ability by lifting 420 kg easily in training.

In the Car Walk, the American and the Scot have to remain the favourites! Singleton won the Car Walk twice in Giants Live competitions last year.

The Log Lift for reps should see Stoltman earn maximum points - he has been dominant in overhead events in recent years, no matter who he is up against. He managed 9 reps in 75 seconds with 150 kg at the Giants Live World Tour Finals this year. Singleton and Eythór Ingólfsson Melsted will also be expecting a good result here.

The Wrecking Ball Hold could be crucial in determining who makes it to the Stone Off. Jean-Stephen Coraboeuf has a strong grip, but Singleton is one of the best in the world in holding events. Stoltman may lose a few points here, but these perhaps won’t matter to him at this point.

If Kelvin de Ruiter is in the Stone Off, he could do well, having gotten good results in stone events in the Strongman Champions League in the past. Stoltman and Singleton are also very capable stone lifters, while Ingólfsson Melsted won his Stone Off against Robert Oberst last year.

Some Head-to-head Matchups

Evan Singleton 3-1 Luke Stoltman (most recent meeting: 2021 Arnold UK - Singleton 1st, Stoltman 9th)

Luke Stoltman 4-0 Eythór Ingólfsson Melsted (most recent meeting: 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man - Stoltman 2nd, Ingólfsson Melsted 7th)

Luke Stoltman 1-0 Kelvin de Ruiter (2022 Europe’s Strongest Man - Stoltman 2nd, de Ruiter 9th)

Our picks: Evan Singleton & Luke Stoltman

The fourth qualifying group at the 2022 World’s Strongest Man sets the stage for the return of 2019 WSM champion, Martins Licis, who did not take part in the competition in the past two years. After battling through multiple injuries, Licis has proven that he is now back to his best, winning the 2021 Rogue Invitational and the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic. He is certainly one of the main contenders, if not the favourite, for the title this year.

This group is not an easy one: Licis will have to contend with Maxime Boudreault, who stood on the podium last year in Sacramento. Boudreault almost beat Licis in the Arnold USA competition two years ago, and he is always a threat.

Two newcomers who have done extremely well recently on the European strongman scene, Shane Flowers and Pavlo Kordiyaka, will be looking to put pressure on the two favourites. Kordiyaka just finished ahead of Flowers at Europe’s Strongest Man in April, the two men finishing 4th and 5th.

Welshman Gavin Bilton is also in this group after having dealt with some health concerns, and he will try to make the Final for the first time in his 3rd WSM appearance, while Nedžmin Ambešković is going to fly the Bosnian flag for the first time ever at WSM.

The Events

Multiple athletes in this group are fit and fast! Pavlo Kordiyaka and Shane Flowers are both young and should do well in the Loading Race, although nerves could play a role in their first ever WSM event. Maxime Boudreault and Martins Licis, meanwhile, have done very well in loading events in the past. In 2020, Licis won the Arnold USA with a phenomenal performance in the Loading Race to beat Boudreault.

The Deadlift Ladder will probably be difficult for Boudreault and Kordiyaka, for whom the deadlift has always been a weak point. Flowers will be expecting good points and so will Nedžmin Ambešković, who has lifted 440 kg in competition before. Licis could well win this event: he is a solid deadlifter and his great grip will allow him to save time on the first few lifts.

Licis, Kordiyaka and Flowers being fast athletes will again be an advantage for them in the Car Walk, while Boudreault has often struggled on yoke events.

The Canadian should bounce back in the Log Lift for reps, however, while the ever consistent Licis will be looking to put pressure on him.

The Wrecking Ball Hold is another good one for Licis and Boudreault, who have proven their worth many times in grip events.

This group features many very good stone lifters! If Licis has to perform the Stone Off, it should not be a problem for him, while Boudreault cannot afford to make a mistake in front of either Kordiyaka or Flowers. Being in second place going into this event could be a huge advantage in Group 4!

Some Head-to-head Matchups

Martins Licis 3-0 Maxime Boudreault (most recent meeting: 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic - Licis 1st, Boudreault 6th)

Maxime Boudreault 3-0 Gavin Bilton (most recent meeting: 2021 Giants Live World Tour Finals - Boudreault 7th, Bilton 10th)

Pavlo Kordiyaka 1-0 Shane Flowers (most recent meeting: 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man - Kordiyaka 4th, Flowers 5th)

Our picks: Martins Licis & Maxime Boudreault

The third qualifying group at the 2022 World’s Strongest Man could mean redemption for 2020 WSM champion, Oleksii Novikov, who missed the Final last year. In fact, Novikov did not make the Final in 2 of his 3 appearances (2019 & 2021) - and in this group are two men who directly contributed to the Ukrainian being eliminated in the Qualifying Round in those two years.

Trey Mitchell made a name for himself on the international strongman scene by defeating Novikov, 14 reps to 13, in the Last Man Standing event in 2019 to qualify for his first WSM Final. Mitchell was eliminated in 2020, the year Novikov won, but bounced back in Sacramento last year by finishing in 4th place overall.

Great Britain’s Adam Bishop is a familiar face at World’s Strongest Man, having made it to the top 10 for the past three years. Each time, he won the stone eliminator in his group to qualify for the WSM Final… each time benefitting from an injury to a direct competitor from the United States (Robert Oberst in 2019, Evan Singleton in 2020 and Jerry Pritchett in 2021). Let’s hope we’re not jinxing anyone!

Also in Group 3, Rob Kearney is making his return to World’s Strongest Man after a three-year absence. The man called “World’s Strongest Gay” nearly reached the Final his last time out, and his impressive showing (5th place) at the Arnold Strongman Classic shows that he is a legitimate threat after coming back from a serious tricep injury as well as a bout with testicular cancer.

Grzegorz Szymański is another man who has battled testicular cancer and is making his return after a long time out of the sport. The Polish strongman was a finalist back in 2016, finishing 8th, but had to quit training for multiple years. However, he has been competing in the Polish strongman cup for the past year.

Newcomer Mika Törrö of Finland rounds out the group; Törrö finished 3rd in the Strongman Champions League World Finals in 2021 and he is the first Finn to take part in WSM since Juha-Matti Järvi in 2013.

The Events

This group is tough, and the Loading Race is hard to call! However, Oleksii Novikov is the total package and his athleticism should serve him well in this opening event.

Adam Bishop comes into the Deadlift Ladder with a big reputation - the Brit has won his last 7 deadlift events (for reps) at WSM, whether in the Qualifying Round or in the Final. Rob Kearney is a strong deadlifter too, but the grip element could be a hindrance for him, while Trey Mitchell should get big points in this event.

Novikov and Kearney have to be the favourites for the Car Walk! They are both well known for their speed in yoke events.

Another good event for Kearney, the Log lift for reps, is next - this one should also give good points to Mitchell and Novikov, while the Wrecking Ball Hold could go either way depending on who needs a big result in order to qualify for the Final.

The Stone Off could be a challenge for the diminutive Kearney, if he makes it, while Bishop could have a tough go of it if he ends up facing Mitchell or Novikov. And, for the sake of the latter two, we hope that they don’t have to pass a heavy stone to one another all afternoon, as was the case in 2019.

Some Head-to-head Matchups

Oleksii Novikov 4-1 Trey Mitchell (most recent meeting: 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic - Novikov 2nd, Mitchell 7th)

Oleksii Novikov 6-1 Adam Bishop (most recent meeting: 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man - Novikov 2nd, Bishop 10th)

Oleksii Novikov 4-1 Rob Kearney (most recent meeting: 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic - Novikov 2nd, Kearney 5th)

Trey Mitchell 4-0 Adam Bishop (most recent meeting: 2021 Shaw Classic - Mitchell 1st, Bishop 7th)

Our picks: Oleksii Novikov & Trey Mitchell

The second qualifying group at the 2022 World’s Strongest Man is headlined by the only multiple champion in the field, Brian Shaw. The four-time WSM champion (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016) missed out on a third crown last year, finishing only 3 points behind Tom Stoltman, and he is still hungry for the title. At age 40, Shaw is still one of the favourites to take home the crown this year.

This group is the only one to feature three finalists from last year. Along with Shaw, Konstantine Janashia and Bobby Thompson (respectively 6th and 9th in the 2021 Final) are looking to qualify again.

Janashia, the Georgian Bull, has qualified for the Final in all five of his WSM appearances. Only 3 men in history have done so more than 5 times in a row to start a career: Hugo Girard (6 times), Hafthor Julius Bjornsson (9 times) and Mariusz Pudzianowski (9 times). Thompson has proven his worth in the past few years, tying Luke Stoltman for 3rd place at this year’s Arnold Strongman Classic.

A third resident of the United States is representing Mexico in Group 2! Gabriel Peña is looking for revenge after his first World’s Strongest Man, in 2020, was cut short due to health concerns. After a year on the sidelines, he is ready for another opportunity.

Veteran Mark Felix needs no introduction: at age 56, he is making a record-breaking 17th WSM appearance! Felix last made the Final in 2015, but he has proven time and time again that he is still among the elite 30. Last year, he took 6th at the Britain's Strongest Man competition.

Rounding out the group is a relatively unknown athlete… Mitchell Hooper of Canada made a name for himself in Australia in the past few years, lifting massive weights in regional competitions. The 2022 WSM will be his first international competition, and he has some very high hopes although the odds are always stacked against newcomers.

The Events

The Loading Race could go either way… None of these athletes are particularly known for their speed, but perhaps the experience of Brian Shaw or Konstantine Janashia could come in handy.

The Deadlift Ladder will see one or two great deadlifters bringing up the rear! Janashia won this event at Europe’s Strongest Man, Mark Felix used to be unbeatable at it, Gabriel Peña and Mitchell Hooper have pulled massive weights have pulled massive weights in the past year, while both Shaw and Bobby Thompson did very well in the Deadlift for reps in 2021. Who will lose out? It’s hard to say!

The Car Walk could see Shaw make up some points, but Thompson is also very good in yoke events. Hooper has shown great potential for this event in training as well.

Thompson should be right up there again the Log Lift for reps, with Janashia and Shaw hot on his heels.

The Wrecking Ball Hold is another event that is difficult to call for some of the athletes in this group, but it should be a great way to end the Qualifying Round for veteran Mark Felix, who is nearly unbeatable in grip events.

If Thompson finds himself in the Stone Off, he could have a hard time against Janashia or Shaw… But with Group 2 being so stacked, the 4-time champion may have to face this event for the first time ever.

Some Head-to-head Matchups

Brian Shaw 7-0 Konstantine Janashia (most recent meeting: 2021 Shaw Classic - Shaw 2nd, Janashia 10th)

Brian Shaw 2-0 Bobby Thompson (most recent meeting: 2021 Shaw Classic - Shaw 2nd, Thompson 6th)

Konstantine Janashia 2-2 Bobby Thompson (most recent meeting: 2021 WUS Dubai - Janashia 5th, Thompson 6th)

Our picks: Bobby Thompson & Brian Shaw

The first qualifying group at the 2022 World’s Strongest Man features a massive name: Tom Stoltman, the returning champion, will begin his title defense against a tough lineup of athletes.

Perhaps surprisingly, no other 2021 finalists are in this group, but Kevin Faires and Aivars Šmaukstelis have both been there before back in 2020, with Faires finishing 7th… just ahead of Šmaukstelis. Ireland’s Pa O’Dwyer, who finished 2nd at this year’s Britain’s Strongest Man, will be looking to put pressure on the two former finalists.

Group 1 features two newcomers: Gabriel Rhéaume, last year’s Canada’s Strongest Man champion, and Manuel Angulo, the first Chilean competitor in WSM history. Angulo finished 13th in last year’s Masters World’s Strongest Man competition (age 40+) and, at 44 years old, will become the second oldest rookie in WSM history (behind Odd Haugen, who made his debut at age 51).

The Events

This group is composed of some very fit and fast athletes. The first event, the Loading Race, has been a banker for Tom Stoltman, who has won 7 of his last 8 loading events in competition. Kevin Faires, Aivars Šmaukstelis and Pa O’Dwyer have all been successful in such events as well.

Stoltman and O’Dwyer are known for their deadlifting ability: the Scot easily won the Axle Deadlift at Europe’s Strongest Man, while the Irishman has consistently done well on such events. They should score high in the Deadlift Ladder. Manuel Angulo is an intriguing prospect… Last year, he completed the Deadlift Ladder in the Masters World’s Strongest Man competition, but the weights were 265 to 345 kg.

The Car Walk has not always suited Stoltman so well in the past, but he showed signs of improvement in this event during last year’s Giants Live World Tour Finals. Šmaukstelis should do well here too, and look out for Gabriel Rhéaume: the Canadian has often been impressive on yoke events and has been training on heavy equipment heading into World’s Strongest Man.

The defending WSM champion should get more good points in the Log Lift for reps, while Šmaukstelis is always a threat too.

The Wrecking Ball Hold, a test of grip, could be a bigger challenge for Stoltman… but he may not even need the points! In spite of Gabriel Rhéaume’s strong hands, this event should belong to Kevin Faires, who holds the Nicol Stone world record and finished 2nd in the Hercules Hold in the 2020 WSM Final.

If a catastrophe happens and Stoltman has to perform the Stone Off, he will make the final - no one in this group can touch him on stone events. Faires and Šmaukstelis both managed the 210 kg stone twice before losing out last year, and this could mean redemption for one of these two athletes.

Some Head-to-head Matchups

Tom Stoltman 3-0 Kevin Faires (most recent meeting: 2021 Giants Live World Tour Finals - Stoltman 2nd, Faires 4th).

Tom Stoltman 3-1 Aivars Šmaukstelis (most recent meeting: 2021 Giants Live Strongman Classic - Stoltman 5th, Šmaukstelis 10th).

Tom Stoltman 4-1 Pa O’Dwyer since 2020 (most recent meeting: 2022 Britain’s Strongest Man - Stoltman 1st, O’Dwyer 2nd).

Kevin Faires 3-1 Aivars Šmaukstelis (most recent meeting: 2021 Shaw Classic - Stoltman 5th, Šmaukstelis 10th).

Aivars Šmaukstelis 1-1 Pa O’Dwyer (most recent meeting: 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man - Šmaukstelis 6th, O’Dwyer 10th).

Our picks: Tom Stoltman & Kevin Faires

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