Major New International Competition League Planned

© Christian Pfanzelt

In a UKC news scoop, we have heard of advanced plans to form a break-away bouldering 'premier league' featuring star names, a completely revamped format, and big-name sponsors. Whilst discussions are ongoing, we have heard that the new format will take some of its inspiration from the big-money break-away franchises seen in sports such as golf and cricket.

The format of the events promises to be revolutionary, with the biggest change being that athletes will compete for teams rather than themselves, with each team being based in a specific region in an attempt to garner local football-crowd-type support. Currently plans are for the competition to be mainly based in Europe, although the organisers have expressed plans to go worldwide. So far declared are Manchester Muscle, Cardiff Crimpers, Berlin Blast, Paris Power, Marseille Magic and Dortmund Dyno. Each team will consist of two men and two women who will compete head-to-head on eight problems.

The teams are created at a showcase auction event where the backer sponsors bid for the star climbers. Big-name companies from outside the climbing world and at least two middle eastern states have expressed an interest in getting behind the new league. It is expected that some of the bidding amounts could reach eye-watering levels with the likes of Adam Ondra, Tomoa Narasaki, Janja Garnbret, and Miho Nonaka expected to claim price tags close to €1 million euros. World Cup silver medallist Max Milne is expected to reach a tidy sum at auction, whilst CWIF winners Hamish McArthur and Erin McNeice are also rumoured to be high up on team-owners lists.

The event itself is a brand-new format which features direct head-to-head climbing in 'boulder matches' where two climbers compete against each other on boulders that are mirror images of one another.

Competitors will start on the outside edge of the stage and move closer to one another throughout the night, until they are competing directly next to one another, with volumes and holds at the very centre of the wall being split by a line of tape down the centre, but 'in' for both teams, meaning there is potential for both climbers to be using opposite sides of the same hold at the same time. Any contact between teams will lead to a two point deduction for the team judged to initiate the contact.

There will be eight problems with all climbers attempting them all, meaning the women will attempt the same problems as the men only they will compete against the other women. The full event will have two rounds with the climbing pairs switching between rounds.

In a boulder match, the winner is the first one to top out. In the event of no top-out, the one who gets the highest is the winner and, where that is equal, time again becomes a factor. The team will achieve two points for the fastest top out or one point where only a high point is gained. The winning team is the one that ends both rounds with the most points.

Events will be held over a single month with all the teams playing each other in a league system and the top four teams fighting it out in a dramatic big finals showdown at a venue yet to be announced (although there are rumours that it may be the O2 in London).

This dramatic development throws up a series of huge questions. How will it work out with men and women competing on the same problems? What is the potential impact of big-money commercialism entering into the previously low-key world of climbing? Are the climbers prepared for the superstar status that could go along with their big fees?

Another important question is how is this going to be taken by the current world of competition climbing? Dutch competition supremo, Hans Ofmijkomp has spoken out about the new competition:

'This is a ridiculous proposal, speed has never been a deciding factor in how well a person climbs!'

When it was pointed out that speed climbing was one-third of the Olympic competition held in Tokyo in 2021, Ofmijkomp responded:

'Ah yes, a wonderful event showcasing the best climbers in the world and testing them across all aspects of the sport'.

Whilst no official ramifications for competing in the new tournament have been publicised, Ofmijkomp has warned that 'any current climber who competes in this circus will immediately be disqualified from ever competing again, will be ostracised from the climbing competition community, and will never climb in the Olympics'.

Bold words indeed but, if the athletes are getting paid the rumoured millions the event is promising, they might not care.

In a final twist, we asked our source what happens when the teams tie after all eight problems.

'It remains unclear, although a number of "penalty shoot-out" options are being explored. Current options being considered are that each team will select a climber from the opposing team to do a two armed hang on "the golden edge", a 20mm edge that retracts 1mm every five seconds, with the climber that holds on the longest earning their team the win. The "higher-ups" are said to be leaning towards "the golden edge" due to merchandising possibilities, despite there being no research into the safety of training with a retracting hangboard'.

According to our source, another alternative - albeit one that was ultimately rejected - was 'a shoot-out where one climber from each team competes in a sudden death play-off on each problem, while the other team members throw bean bags at the opposing team member' - now that is something we'd really like to watch!

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1 Apr

<Checks date..../>

Have you been bugging my office?

1 Apr

Even though this is an April Fool it sounds way more interesting than the current format...

Wake me up on April 2nd.

1 Apr

"While the other team members throw bean bags at the opposing team member."

Chalk balls lads, chalk balls.

Colour coded obviously, to track the shooter.

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