Last year, I created a metric to mathematically rank each ninja’s prowess in the competition. I awarded “Ninja Points” based on the number of obstacles within each course that were completed. Here is how the “Ninja Points” metric was calculated:
- 6 points for completion of each obstacle in a City Qualifiers course
- 7.5 points for completion of each of the first six obstacles on a City Finals course
- 15 points for completion of each of the final four obstacles on a City Finals course
- 25 points for completion of each obstacle on Stage 1
- 50 points for completion of each obstacle on Stage 2
- 80 points for completion of each obstacle on Stage 3
- 200 points for completion of Stage 4
Additionally, four categories of bonus points were available.
- 4 bonus points for each buzzer that was hit (each course completed)
- 5 bonus points for the completion of a City Finals course
- Up to 10 bonus points based on the completion time for each of Stage 1 and 2
- Up to 50 bonus points based on the completion time for Stage 4
The maximum total value of the scale is in a season 1500 points. The highest single-season score recorded by a ninja in that time was Geoff Britten’s 1467.31 points in Season 7 when he completed all 6 courses. Using these point values, I calculated “Ninja Points” scores for each season dating back to Season 5 in 2013, along with the USA vs The World specials and an ELO ranking system for Team Ninja Warrior/Ninja vs Ninja competition. To come up with the final number of “Ninja Points” for each athlete, I weighted the most recent performances heavier. The current years points are taken at full value then the prior three seasons are weighted at 75%, 50%, and 25% respectively.
The “Ninja Points” used for these rankings take into account the following competitions:
- American Ninja Warrior Seasons 6, 7, 8, and 9
- USA vs The World 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017
- Team Ninja Warrior Seasons 1 & 2, Ninja vs Ninja
In the weeks leading up to Season 10 of American Ninja Warrior, I have been revealing the Top 200 Ninjas (out of nearly 1300) in the rankings scale. Check out the previous lists for those ranked between #51 and #200.
With the season premier coming on Wednesday night (May 30, 8pm on NBC), here are the Top 50 Ninjas.
50. Dave Cavanagh
Ninja Points: 459.80
Dave returned in Season 9 after last competing in 2015 when he completed a City Qualifiers course and fell on the 8th obstacle in the City Finals. In Season 7, that was not enough to send him to Vegas. He had the same results this season in Kansas City in Season 9, but the brutal course there wiped out so many early competitors that he earned a trip to the National Finals where he reached Stage 2 and fell on the Wave Runner.
49. Brian Wilczewski
Ninja Points: 480.96
Brian and his older brother Chris are both ninja competitors who are both Vegas veterans. Brian was the only one to compete last season. He fell on Stage 1 in Season 6 and reached Stage 2 in Season 7. For the second time in his career, his season ended when he slipped on the first obstacle of Stage 1.
48. Karsten Williams
Ninja Points: 484.21
Karsten is a veteran ninja who has made fourth straight trips to Vegas. He has fallen on Stage 1 each of the prior four seasons, slipping up on the Domino Pipes last year.
47. Tyler Gillett
Ninja Points: 486.21
Tyler was one of the top rookies last season, completing the City Qualification course and Stage 1. He fell on the penultimate obstacle in the Daytona City Finals and on the Wave Runner in Stage 2 in Vegas.
46. Josh Salinas
Ninja Points: 497.24
Salinas had a solid rookie season, completing the San Antonio City Qualifying course with the third-fastest time behind only Daniel Gil and Thomas Stillings. He kept up his speed in the Vegas Finals, posting the second-fastest time on Stage 1 behind only Drew Drechsel. He fell on Wingnut Alley on Stage 2.
45. Meagan Martin
Ninja Points: 498.33
Megan is one of the top female competitors. She completed City Qualification courses in Season 7 and 8 and was the first woman to complete the Jumping Spider obstacle on Stage 1 in Vegas. She completed the Warped Wall in Vegas for the first time in her career but timed out on Stage 1 after scaling the Wall.
44. Jody Avila
Ninja Points: 500.19
Avila was one of the top rookies of Season 9. The HVAC technician finished the San Antonio City Qualifiers course and completed Stage 1 in the Vegas Finals. His rookie season ended on Wingnut Alley on Stage 2.
43. Matthew Ilgenfritz
Ninja Points: 509.25
Ilgenfritz was another rookie who competed in Cleveland last season. He wasn’t able to make it up the Warped Wall in qualifying but conquered it in the City Finals. He fell on the Nail Clipper which was an absolute ninja killer. He then fell on another ninja killer, Wingnut Alley, on Stage 2 in Vegas.
42. Cass Clawson
Ninja Points: 523.03
Cass returned to Vegas last season for the first time since 2014. In Season 6 he nearly completed Stage 1 but ran out of time before he could reach the buzzer. He conquered Stage 1 last season but fell on the Wave Runner on Stage 2.
41. Hunter Guerard
Ninja Points: 556.39
“The Lizard” reached Stage 2 during his rookie season, falling on Wingnut Alley. He followed that up with a great showing in Ninja vs Ninja where he went 3-0 in qualifying to help his team to the playoffs.
40. Neil Craver
Ninja Points: 559.42
Neil “Crazy” Craver did not compete on Season 9 due to a shoulder injury and is a fan-favorite known for his intense training with fire and flaming objects. He reached Stage 2 in his last two competitive seasons, falling on the Double Salmon Ladder in Season 7 and on the Wave Runner in Season 8.
39. Chris Wilczewski
Ninja Points: 565.35
The Wilczewski brothers are gym owners and talented ninjas who have both been to the Vegas finals. Interestingly, they have never reached Vegas in the same season, but both have conquered Stage 1 and reached the penultimate obstacle of Stage 2. A shoulder injury suffered during Season 2 of Team Ninja Warrior kept him from competing in American Ninja Warrior Season 9, but he competed on Ninja vs Ninja this year and should be back for Season 10.
38. Drew Knapp
Ninja Points: 569.93
One of the most inspirational Ninja stories, Drew is in his third year competing on ANW. When his younger brother was sick, he took up ninja training. He missed out on the Vegas finals in Season 8. Last year, he had one of the fastest times of the night in the Denver Qualifiers then had a time was fast enough in the City Finals to get him to Vegas. His younger brother also competed last season and just missed on making it to Vegas. Drew conquered Stage 1 and fell on Wingnut Alley on Stage 2.
37. Jeremiah Morgan
Ninja Points: 601.44
Morgan burst onto the ninja scene in Season 6 when he reached the Vegas Finals, falling on Stage 1. He followed that up with a great Season 7, making it all the way to Stage 3 and falling on the Ultimate Cliffhanger. He did not compete in Season 8 but came back in Season 9. He did not finish either the City Qualifiers or City Finals course last season but qualified for Vegas based on time. He withdrew from the competition before the Vegas Finals.
36. Eric Middleton
Ninja Points: 608.17
The entomology student made his second trip to the Vegas Finals last year. He nearly completed Stage 1 as a rookie but ran out of time on the final obstacle. In Season 9, he completed Stage 1 and fell on the Wave Runner in Stage 2.
35. Sean Darling-Hammond
Ninja Points: 608.37
Sean reached the Vegas Finals in Season 7 but fell on the Jumping Spider on Stage 1. Last season, he completed the Daytona Qualifiers course and made it to the final obstacle in the City Finals before falling. In Vegas, he completed Stage 1 but like so many others saw his season end on Wingnut Alley in Stage 2.
34. Grant Clinton
Ninja Points: 614.08
Clinton has had an up-and-down ninja career in just two seasons. After nearly dying from a stroke before Season 8 began, he barely advanced through the City Qualifiers then was one of just 11 ninjas to complete a City Finals course. In Vegas, he fell on the very first obstacle of Stage 1. He came back in Season 9 with a strong run to Stage 2, falling on Wingnut Alley.
33. Nick Hanson
Ninja Points: 629.67
Nick Hanson, the “Eskimo Ninja” has gained popularity for his crazy workouts it sub-zero Alaskan wilderness. He has reached the Vegas Finals each of the last two seasons and made it to Stage 2 last year after timing out just before he hit the Stage 1 buzzer the year before.
32. Nick Kostreski
Ninja Points: 629.95
Nick qualified for Vegas in Season 8 as a rookie. He nearly completed Stage 1 but ran out of time just before hitting the buzzer. Last season, he was one of just 8 ninjas to complete the Denver Qualification course and fell on The Wedge in the City Finals. He got redemption on the Stage 1 course before falling on the Wave Runner in Stage 2.
31. Grant McCartney
Ninja Points: 650.62
The “Island Ninja,” a flight attendant hailing from Hawaii, and known for his dance moves after hitting the buzzer. McCartney posted the fastest time of the night in the Los Angeles Qualifiers last year, but shockingly fell in the City Finals on the Salmon Ladder. This was the third straight season a Salmon Ladder obstacle knocked him out as he fell on the Double Salmon Ladder and Down-Up Salmon Ladder on Stage 2 the prior two seasons.
30. Tyler Yamauchi
Ninja Points: 684.16
Tyler was the only one of the Chicago foursome to make it past the third obstacle in the Kansas City Qualifiers. In the City Finals, he was breezing through the course until he fell on the dismount from the 9th obstacle. He holds the distinction as being the shortest male competitor (at 5’1”) to conquer the Warped Wall. He has reached Vegas each of the last two seasons and made it to Stage 2 last year, falling on Wingnut Alley.
29. Brent Steffensen
Ninja Points: 726.34
Steffensen has competed in Ninja Warrior since Season 2. He was the Last Man Standing in Season 4 when he reached Stage 3. Since then, he has fared the best in odd-numbered seasons, reaching Stage 2 in Seasons 5, 7, and 9. He fell on the Wave Runner last year.
28. Karson Voiles
Ninja Points: 728.02
Karson has reached the Vegas Finals twice in the last three years, both times completing Stage 1. He was one of many competitors knocked out by the “ninja killer” obstacles last season. In the Denver Qualifiers he fell on the Rail Runner in Qualifying and The Wedge in the City Finals, then on Wingnut Alley in the Vegas Finals.
27. Lance Pekus
Ninja Points: 769.22
The “Cowboy Ninja” rebounded from an early fall in Season 8 to have a very solid performance in Season 9. He recorded the fastest time in the Kansas City Qualifiers and reached Stage 2 in Vegas for the second time in his career, falling on Wingnut Alley.
26. Jon Alexis Jr
Ninja Points: 771.81
The Giant ninja is one of the tallest competitors at 6’5″. This will be his fourth season of competition and has reached the Vegas Finals each of the last two years, reaching Stage 2 but falling on Wingnut Alley last year.
25. Mike Bernardo
Ninja Points: 814.58
“Machine Gun Mike” known for his prowess on the Salmon Ladder has made three straight trips to the Vegas Finals. Last season, he reached Stage 2 for the first time since 2015 but fell on the Swing Surfer.
24. Geoff Britten
Ninja Points: 833.46
Geoff was the first American Ninja Warrior, achieving Total Victory in Season 7. He is the only athlete to complete all 6 courses in a season. He will not take part in Season 10 because he worked as a course tester during Season 9 and ANW rules require a 1-year separation, but he announced on the Armchair Ninja Podcast that he will be returning for Season 11.
23. Jake Murray
Ninja Points: 836.64
Murray is looking for a bounce-back season after a shocking early fall last year in the City Qualifiers. He is fun and fast and is known for his crazy antics on the course (including chowing down on a corn dog after completing Stage 1 in Season 8). He reached Stage 2 in both of his first two seasons of competition. Murray has the speed and skill to make another deep run in the event.
22. Andrew Lowes
Ninja Points: 845.95
Lowes has been competing since Season 4. He reached Vegas and fell on Stage 1 in Seasons 4, 5 and 8. In Season 6 he conquered Stage 1 and fell on the 5th obstacle of Stage 2. He repeated the feat last season, returning to Stage 2 but falling on the penultimate obstacle, Wingnut Alley.
21. David Campbell
Ninja Points: 846.29
The Ninja Godfather returned to Vegas last season after Grant McCartney fell on the Salmon Ladder in the final run of the night in the Los Angeles City Finals. Campbell has reached the Vegas Finals 5 times but last year was the first time he conquered Stage 1. Like so many other top ninjas, he fell on Wingnut Alley.
20. Nicholas Coolridge
Ninja Points: 853.34
The professional acrobat has made three straight trips to the Vegas Finals. He fell on Stage 1 in Season 7 and reached Stage 2 in each of the last two seasons. In the San Antonio City Finals last year, he was one of just 4 competitors to reach the final obstacle but gassed out on the Elevator Climb.
19. Adam Rayl
Ninja Points: 862.82
Adam is a concrete worker from Arizona with insane grip strength. He reached Stage 2 in both of his seasons competing on American Ninja Warrior. Like so many others he fell on Wingnut Alley last season after being one of just 9 competitors to complete a City Finals course.
18. Ryan Stratis
Ninja Points: 883.55
Stratis has competed on every season of American Ninja Warrior. He has reached Vegas four straight seasons and reached Stage 2 three times. He fell on the first obstacle of Stage 2 last season, the Giant Ring Swing.
17. JJ Woods
Ninja Points: 922.45
JJ rebounded from a shocking early fall in the Season 8 City Qualifiers to qualify for Vegas in Season 9 for the fourth time. He has reached Stage 2 in each of his last three trips to Vegas in Seasons 6, 7, and 9. Woods fell on Wingnut Alley last year.
16. Jessie Graff
Ninja Points: 951.65
Wonder Woman is real and her name is Jessie Graff. Jessie made history in Season 8 when she became the first woman to complete Stage 1 in Vegas. She topped that performance in the USA vs The World special when she became the first woman to complete Stage 2. Last year, she was one of just 4 competitors in the Daytona City Finals to reach the final obstacle, the Elevator Climb. She was poised to defeat Stage 1 again but came up just short on the Flying Squirrel when her jump to the cargo net came up short and she fell into the water.
15. Jamie Rahn
Ninja Points: 990.85
“Captain NBC” was one of two finishers in the Cleveland City Finals course last season. He has made 5 straight appearances in the Vegas Finals where he reached Stage 2 in 2013, 2015, and 2017. His run ended last year at Wingnut Alley as he fell on the dismount, failing to get enough distance to get to the landing pad.
14. Thomas Stillings
Ninja Points: 1014.15
Stillings burst onto the ninja scene in 2015 and has reached the Vegas finals in all 3 of his seasons. He has a friendly rivalry with Daniel Gil for which can achieve the fastest time of the night on a given course and has a combination of talent and speed to make it back to Vegas for a fourth season. He fell on Wingnut Alley last year, the third consecutive year he reached Stage 2.
13. Abel Gonzalez
Ninja Points: 1025.91
Abel rebounded from an early fall in Season 8 to return to Vegas for the third time in four years last season. He reached Stage 3 in 2015 and fell on the Ultimate Cliffhanger. For the third time in four years, he reached Stage 2 but was unable to conquer Wingnut Alley.
12. Flip Rodriguez
Ninja Points: 1116.27
Flip has been competing since Season 3. Formerly known as the “Masked Ninja” he took off the mask in Season 7 and had his best run ever, making it all the way to the penultimate obstacle of Stage 2. He reached Stage 2 again in Season 8 but was disqualified for not using both boards of the Wave Runner. Flip made it through the Wave Runner in Season 9 but once again came up just short of completing Stage 2 as he fell on Wingnut Alley. Flip has now reached Stage 2 in 3 consecutive seasons.
11. Kevin Bull
Ninja Points: 1147.67
Kevin is known for his speed on the course and has recorded the fastest time on numerous occasions. He has reached the Vegas Finals in all four seasons he has competed. He fell on Stage 1 in Seasons 6 and 8. His best year was Season 7 when he made it all the way to Stage 3. He reached Stage 2 last season and fell on Wingnut Alley.
10. Isaac Caldiero
Ninja Points: 1158.42
Isaac was the first competitor to win American Ninja Warrior. In Season 7, both he and Geoff Britten achieved Total Victory and summited Mount Midoryama. Isaac completed the climb in a faster time and was crowned as the Champion of Season 7. He repeated his feat of completing Stage 3 during the Team USA vs the World after that season. Following his Total Victory, he took two seasons off from competition but has announced his return for Season 10.
9. Travis Rosen
Ninja Points: 1161.28
Travis has been competing since Season 2 and has reached the Vegas Finals 5 times. Before Season 8, he had never fallen on Stage 1. He fell on Stage 2 in Seasons 4, 6, 7, and 9. His best year to date was Season 5 when he reached Stage 3. Rosen also has the designation of being the first American to complete the 75-foot rope climb in Stage 4 in the USA vs The World. He fell on Wingnut Alley last season.
8. Josh Levin
Ninja Points: 1316.66
Josh has been a competitive rock climber since a young age and was the top rookie in Season 8. Josh has excelled in City Finals courses and was the only finisher in the Los Angeles City Finals course in Season 8 and was one of four finishers of the Los Angeles Finals course in Season 9. He has completed Stage 1 in both of his competitive seasons but fell on Stage 2 both years. Notably, he conquered Stage 3 during Team USA vs The World in 2017, so if he can get through Stage 2 he will be an absolute threat to summit Mount Midoryama.
7. Sean Bryan
Ninja Points: 1354.43
In his second year of competition, the Papal Ninja was one of three to reach Stage 3 last season and finished the Los Angeles City Finals course with the fastest time of the night. He was one of just 9 athletes to complete a City Finals course last season. He took on Stage 4 during the USA vs The World Challenge and completed the climb but came up just behind Team Europe’s Sean McColl.
6. Najee Richardson
Ninja Points: 1435.88
The Phoenix has risen to the top of the ninja world and was one of just three athletes to conquer Stage 2 last season. On Stage 3, he successfully navigated the Nail Clipper obstacle that knocked him out in the City Finals, but fell in the transition to the second hanging board on the Ultimate Cliffhanger. His sophomore success followed a great rookie season where he reached Stage 2. Najee repeated his feat of conquering Stage 2 in the USA vs The World event.
5. Ian Dory
Ninja Points: 1560.27
Dory is one of the “Wolfpack” ninjas who train as rock climbers in Colorado. He has the distinction of never failing on a City Finals course and was the only finisher in the brutal Denver course last year. His best year was Season 7 when he reached the final obstacle of Stage 3. He reached Stage 2 in both Season 6 and Season 9, falling on Swing Surfer last year after his jump to the swing came up short.
4. Brian Arnold
Ninja Points: 1681.53
Brian has been one of the top ninja competitors for a long time. He has completed Stage 1 in each of the last 6 seasons. His best season was Season 5 when he was the Last Man Standing and fell on the final jump of the final obstacle of Stage 3. He was the first American to complete Stage 3, doing so during the USA vs The World special after Season 6. Recently, The Wedge has been his nemesis, knocking him out on Stage 2 of Season 8, the 2017 USA vs The World special, and in the Denver City Finals in Season 9. He reached Stage 2 once again in Season 9 but like many top ninjas, fell on Wingnut Alley.
3. Daniel Gil
Ninja Points: 1801.18
The “Kingdom Ninja” was the only finisher in the San Antonio City Finals during Season 9, but fell on the dismount from Wingnut Alley in Stage 2. In Season 8, he was one of two ninjas to reach Stage 3 after reaching Stage 2 during his rookie season the year prior. In just his fourth season, he is one of the top ninjas on the circuit after reaching Stage 2 in all three seasons.
2. Joe Moravsky
Ninja Points: 2885.75
“The Weatherman” is bringing a storm to Season 10 after he was the Last Man Standing in Season 9. Joe was the only ninja to defeat the Ultimate Cliffhanger last season, but fell on the Time Bomb. He has reached Stage 3 in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017 and has been the Last Man Standing in 2 of the last 4 seasons. Joe is one of the most consistent ninjas on the circuit and is an absolute threat to conquer Mount Midoryama.
1. Drew Drechsel
Ninja Points: 2888.14
“The Real Life Ninja” was the Last Man Standing in Season 8 when he fell on the Hang Climb on Stage 3 (the second year in a row the Hang Climb ended his season). Drew conquered Stage 3 in the 2017 USA vs The World to give Team USA the victory. Drechsel was dominant last season as the only finisher in the Dayton City Finals and posting the fastest time of the night on Stage 1 (and the fastest ever recorded in regular ANW competition). He fell on Wingnut Alley in Stage 2 after injuring his arm and coming up short on his dismount. He has reached the Vegas Finals in Seasons 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 and has never fallen on Stage 1.
With the conclusion of the list, a note on the top of the rankings: At the end of Season 9, Joe Moravsky had more “Ninja Points” than Drew Drechsel and was atop the rankings. Drew edged Joe (barely) for the top spot in these rankings after he completed Stage 1 during the most recent USA vs The World event and Moravsky took a surprising fall on the Domino Pipes. Both Drew and Joe fell on the Ultimate Cliffhanger on Stage 3 of that event. Nevertheless, both are outstanding athletes and only a razor thin margin separated them in the rankings.
Best of luck to all competitors during the upcoming season of American Ninja Warrior, which starts on Wednesday, May 30th at 8pm on NBC!