Flavors of Ninjas Post-Regional Rounds

With the regional competitions all done, and the National Finals in Las Vegas just two weeks ago, pretty much all ninjas fall into the below categories at the moment. Here is the categorization as I see them, and some thoughts on each:

The Deserving – These studs came, they saw, and they kicked ninja ass. They advanced from the regional round to the regional finals, and advanced from the regional finals to the National Finals in 2 weeks in Vegas. They are living the dream, and are super-stoked to compete in Vegas, and are most likely twitching in anticipation to get their shot at immortality just around the corner.

The Lucky – These are the lucky competitors who failed in either the regional or regional finals round and didn’t advance through competition to the National Finals, but have been awarded a wildcard to compete in the National Finals in Vegas in 2 weeks nonetheless. They’ve won a Golden Ticket (Willy Wonka reference), and will get to step to the line in Vegas for their own shot at immortality. In last season, which was the first that they used the wildcard format, they used wildcards to invite fan favorites like Grandpa Ninja and Ryoga Vee, as well as a number of the top women (no woman advanced to the National Finals in ANW4 through competition). We’ll see when the show airs how production decided to use their wildcard spots this year. These wildcard invites are the envy of everybody else who falls into one of the other categories below.

The Bummed – These are the many many competitors who competed and didn’t achieve their goals of advancing to Vegas. Maybe they fell on the very first obstacle, or maybe they fell just inches from advancing beyond the Regional Final round to the Nationals Final (this was me last year), or some place in between. They held the belief in their hearts stepping onto the course that this would be their year to make it to Vegas and achieve glory, and they fell short. Maybe they also held out hope they’d get a wildcard invite, but the phone never rang. This category is composed of most of the ANW competitors who stepped onto the course in the regional rounds this year.

The Super-Bummed – These are the poor souls who really wanted to compete but never got a chance. Maybe their video didn’t get accepted, and/or maybe they tried to line up for a couple of days as a walkon and never got their shot. This is the group that I feel the worst for. They trained and dreamed all year long, and were denied a chance to prove themselves. This season, American Ninja Warrior 5, was BY FAR the hardest season to get a run slot, a function of it “going network” and American Ninja Warrior 4 being called up from the AA minor leagues of G4 to the major leagues of primetime NBC. Allegedly there were over 10,000 video submissions for this season, and only around 400 guaranteed run invites. Maybe another 100, if that, got walkon spots out of maybe a thousand lining up in the 4 regions. These guys are super-bummed to have never gotten a chance to toe the line.

The Happy – This is a relative rarity, but there are some competitors who just walked away happy from their performance despite not advancing to the National Finals. Maybe they exceeded their modest expectations, maybe they were thrilled to just get a chance, or maybe they are just grounded Zen people. But these folks walked away with a big grin on their faces and are looking forward to doing it again, and better, next season.

So…did I miss any obvious categories? Tell me what kind of ninja are you?

  • Etan

    What about the stunned? The veterans who trained year round and somehow tripped up.

  • Nick Kostner

    Sub-category (not to sound arrogant at all, I’m at peace with it but for the purpose of this post), “The deserving yet mega bummed”. I vote that one!

  • Anonymous

    I hear you Nick. For SURE you were very deserving to get another shot this year after making the National Finals last year. Great to see you in Baltimore and get to hang all the same. Next year will be yours!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Etan. I’d put those in the “Bummed” category having competed and fell short of their goals. Otherwise we’d end up with the “Bummed Newbies” and the “Bummed Vets” categories 😉