Just one episode remains in Season 9 of American Ninja Warrior. With a record 41 ninjas moving on to Stage 2 it is sure to be one action packed show!
This has been a real rollercoaster of a season for the contestants (and I'm not just talking about the ride they went for on the Double Dipper). This season, the average number of clears per City Qualifying course was at an all time low, 14.67 clears per city. Not only that, the average number of clears per City Finals course was the lowest it's been since Season 3, 1.5 clears per city and the lowest we've ever seen with multiple cities. Yet, on Stage 1 we just saw a record high number of completions, 41.
Stage 1 has had some huge swings in the number of total completions in the past few seasons. This years 41 clears is 2.4 times more than the 17 we saw last season. But only only 3 more than the 38 we saw in Season 7. That 38 was more than 2 times as many clears as we saw in Season 6, though. All I can say is the number of Stage 1 clears has been all over place.
Despite that volatility, I think we can use that data (and a few more trends) to come up with a decent prediction as to how many competitors will complete Stage 2 this season. Much like the number of Stage 1 clears, the number of Stage 2 clears has varied pretty significantly in the past 3 seasons. Honestly, though this variation makes sense. In Season 6 when only 18 ninjas took on Stage 2, only 2 ninjas completed it. Similarly in Season 7, when 38 competitors took on Stage 2, we saw a record 8 ninjas complete it.
Well duh, more attempts means a greater chance for completion. When we look more into the data though we see that the completion rate for Stage 2 as a whole has varied by less than 10% for the past three seasons. Here's what I mean, broken down for clarity: In Season 6, 2/18 ninjas cleared Stage 2 - a completion rate of 11.11% in Season 7, 8/38 ninjas cleared Stage 2 - a completion rate of 21.05%. and in Season 8, 2/17 ninjas cleared Stage 2 - a completion rate of 11.76%.
So if this trend holds we should expect between 5 (a 12% completion rate) and 9 (a 22% completion rate) finishers on Stage 2 this season. 9 finishers would be a new record, but a 22% completion rate for Stage 2 really doesn't seem like an extremely bold prediction.
To have a little more fun with these predictions, I want to take this one step further. Even though the total number of City Finals finishers has lingered on the fringe of double digits for the past few seasons (11 in Seasons 7 and 8, and 9 this year), 50% or more of the Stage 2 finishers were also ninjas who completed their City Finals course. In fact the only time less than 50% of the Stage 2 finishers also cleared their City Finals course was in Season 3 when only Ryan Stratis cleared the City Finals course. So that was a really weird season.
This year all 8 of the ninjas who cleared their City Finals and attempted Stage 1 completed it. (sorry Charlie Andrews, that head injury looked brutal, glad to hear you're doing much better now!). That means that 8 of the 41 ninjas taking on Stage 1 also completed their City Finals course. With that I would expect 50% or more the Stage 2 clears to come from those 8 competitors.
So to tie it all together, I expect to see between 5 and 9 Stage 2 clears. I also expect 3 or more of these men to clear to Stage 2: Josh Levin, Adam Rayl, Sean Bryan, Daniel Gil, Drew Drechsel, Jamie Rahn, Joe Moravsky, or Ian Dory. I would love to try and make predictions for Stage 3 and beyond, but the data is so scarce there (only 2 clears ever) I can't really do much.
At 5'1" Tyler Yamauchi became the shortest competitor to clear Stage 1. Funny because I believe his fellow "Windy City Warrior" Brandon Mears is the tallest competitor to complete the stage, although Travis Weinand may hold that distinction (I don't usually track heights).
At 5'0" Barclay Stockett is the shortest competitor to complete pretty much every obstacle on Stage 1, with the exception of the Flying Squirrel which she unfortunately didn't have time to attempt.
David Campbell makes his return to Stage 2 for the first time in 5 years. Many of the other Stage 2 finalists weren't old enough to compete on American Ninja Warrior 5 years ago.
Brian Arnold completed his 6th straight Stage 1, surpassing the old record for most consecutive Stage 1 completions that Travis Rosen and Paul Kasemir shared.
3 Walk-ons reached Stage 2 this season. This is the first time (to my knowledge) more than 1 walk-on has ever reached Stage 2 in a season. Also these guys became the 5th, 6th, and 7th Walk-ons to ever complete Stage 1 (in a season they walked on) - For more on this one check out Dave's first hand account!