Championship week has arrived for the 2019 International Swimming League schedule, which means the finishing touches for the inaugural season-long MVP award will see its finishing touches.
In any individual meet, Cali Condors swimmer Caeleb Dressel has proven himself to be the most valuable swimmer this season. In his first meet in Naples, Italy he won the MVP honors by 10 points ahead of Energy Standard’s Sarah Sjostrom 57.5 points – 52 points. In his second meet, the U.S. Derby in College Park, Maryland, he cruised to the MVP honor by a 10-point margin ahead of LA Current swimmer Beryl Gastaldello, 61.5-51.5.
But, he missed his team’s first meet in Indianapolis, Indiana, which could turn into a very expensive absence.
That’s because Dressel would be a huge favorite for the season-long MVP award, if he had raced in all 3 meets. Instead, Sjostrom is a big favorite heading into Las Vegas this weekend, holding a 19.5-point lead over her teammate Chad le Clos as the highest scorer this season in MVP points.
The winner of the match MVP award in Las Vegas will receive a $10,000 prize, while the winner of the season-long MVP award will receive a $50,000 prize.
While Sjostrom’s lead in MVP scoring is significant, it is not insurmountable, primarily for one reason: points at the Las Vegas championship meet will count double toward the season-long MVP award. In essence, that means the deficits that everyone has to Sjostrom in this ranking can be viewed as ‘halved’ for the finale.
Scoring becomes a whole different battle in the finale, where only the top 4 teams, which are by far the deepest 4 teams, compete. In Las Vegas, a few tenths could result in a slide from 1st or 2nd to 5th or 6th in certain races.
For Dressel, for example, who dominated the US Derby meet, he’ll now have to face Florent Manaudou and Ben Proud in the 50 free, and Chad le Clos in the 100 fly, and the Energy Standard and London Roar relays, in addition to the LA Current relays that he had to face in Maryland.
Dressel will be the biggest inhibition to Sjostrom running away with this award. Not because he has a chance to make up the gap (which seems unlikely), but because he has at least 3 probable head-to-head matchups with Chad le Clos, who currently ranks 2nd in season-long MVP scoring. Le Clos would need a nearly-perfect meet to catch his teammate Sjostrom for season MVP, which would include a win in the 100 fly (he beat Dressel in that race in Naples), the 100 free (he was 2nd, almost a second behind Dressel, in Naples), and the 50 fly (he was 2nd behind Dressel in Naples). That’s in addition to any possible relay matchups.
In short: Sjostrom is the favorite to win the season MVP award, but is not a lock.
The meet begins on Friday, December 20th and wraps on Saturday, December 21st at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center. Both days will begin competition at 1:00 PM local time, or 3:00 PM U.S. Eastern time.
Top 8, Season MVP Award Standings
|Rank||Athlete||Club||Point Total||Team in Vegas?|
|1||Sarah Sjostrom||Energy Standard||151.5||Yes|
|2||Chad Le Clos||Energy Standard||132.0||Yes|
|3||Emma McKeon||London Roar||125.0||Yes|
|6||Caeleb Dressel||Cali Condors||119.0||Yes|
|7||Olivia Smoliga||Cali Condors||117.5||Yes|
|8||Tom Shields||LA Current||107.5||Yes|
Reminder of how MVP Scoring Works:
- In most individual races, athletes receive points equivalent to the points scored for their team: 9 for 1st, 7 for 2nd, 6-5-4-3-2-1.
- In skins races, where team scoring points are tripled, athletes receive half of their team-scored points. The winner will score 13.5 MVP points, the runner-up will score 10.5 MVP points, followed by 6-5-2-1.5-1-.5
- In relay races, points scored for an athlete’s team are doubled relative to individual events. Those points are divided equally among the 4 members of the relay. So each member of a winning relay receives 4.5 points, followed by 3.5 points-3-2.5-2-1.5-1-.5
- Penalties for missing time standards or disqualifications in individual races are applied to MVP scoring, as are penalties for missing time standards in relays. Penalties for disqualifications in relay races are not applied to MVP scoring.