"It is possible to die from eating. But I think to be professional means you don't die." (Takeru Kobayashi)

Monday, July 09, 2007


Many within the competitive eating community are holding their collective breath in anticipation of the new MLE/IFOCE eater rankings. The rankings are typically updated twice a year; once after Nathan's and again after Krystals in early November (though in 2006 they were also updated in the spring). Last year's summer rankings were released on July 25, which gives us a little over two weeks to debate the biggest question of them all in the wake Joey Chestnut's upset of Kobayashi on Coney Island: Who's #1?

The consensus over on EatFeats seems like a coin toss. Old timers like Rhonda Evans favor Koby. New faces, like Carey and Anonymous give the edge to Chestnut. Joey supporters are willing to admit one loss shouldn't be enough to warrant Kobayashi being knocked from his perch atop the competitive eating world. Instead they point to Joey's high levels of activity and ass-kicking since last year's Krystal Square Off (11 contests and 8 wins, including a record-breaking victory in Wing Bowl 15) compared to Kobayashi's track record during the same period (one contest, no wins).

Tough to argue with that, but I side with Rhonda on this one. It's damn hard to rationalize it after looking again at those recent numbers, but the numbers I'm leaning on go back a lot further than November 2006.

Kobayashi has been number one since just about forever. Until last week the only living creature to beat him on American soil was a Kodiak bear (record here). Chestnut, on the other hand, hasn't shown the same level of invincibility (record here). I'm even willing to ignore his rookie year (2005), when he was beaten 10 times, but in 2006 and 2007, Joey was beaten 10 more times: three losses to Kobayashi and seven defeats at the mouths of his fellow countrymen (and women).

Now I'm not saying Koby's flawless record should earn him unfair consideration or cause the powers-that-be to look the other way come ranking time. Every king's reign must come to an end at some point. I'm just saying a career chock full of complete and utter domination should earn the guy the right to lose one without worrying about giving up the empire he's worked so hard to build.


Anonymous Philly Guy said...

Now time for a sober post. One of the reasons people love sports is the ability to talk about it and argue who's better. Either way eating finally has sparked good conversation between the top two eaters. I think Joey should be #1 based on his dominance throughout the year. Koby knows his weak spots and won't do them. Joey obviously has a weak spot in peppers, but he still did it. He lost, but he did it. In the future they need to have a set number of contest that you must compete in or try to qualify to be considered for rankings. Two or three contest a year isn't really a fair judge in foods that are very alike. Lets see Koby go against Joey in ribs and see who wins. Eating is a sport where the greatest talent rarely competes.

9:43 PM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

PG - I definitely agree that it would be much easier to compare these two if we had more head-to-head match-ups or a bigger variety of foods eaten by Koby. Good point about his foods being so similar. That factor slipped my mind. Hot dogs, Krystal burgers and bratwurst...someone has a soft spot for protein and carbs.

10:14 PM

Blogger Carey said...

I have always thought that if an athlete wants to keep his title, then he has to keep defending it. If Kobay wants to stay number one, eat more. PG has a great idea there, and what about the point system started at IFOCE, maybe that could has some leverage. Is the #1 spot for the absolute best eater, or for the one winning the most? That is where the debate is.

7:42 AM

Blogger Wild Bill said...

Good points, all; however, Carey, I don't think we can use the point system as an accurate ranking tool. Just using myself as an example (because for no other reason than I know where *I* stand), I've competed in 8 contests this year, and have acummulated a vast array of 6th and 7th place finishes, plus a couple of outside of 10th place finishes. I think (as the guy who created the point system and was maintaining it is no longer there) I have about 8 points. There are people who have competed in one or two contests, one maybe being a low attendance Nathan's qualifier, and end up in second or third (and accumulating 8 points FOR ONE CONTEST) where they only ate 10 hot dogs. That peformance at a higher attended qualifier would put them outside of tenth place. My bottom line - the Axia 3 points system is bulls*&t, as far as the mid-ranked eaters are concerned.

11:18 AM

Blogger Carey said...

you are right, Bill. I didn't actually look at the structure of the point system to judge it's ability to actually rank eaters. There are ways of doing it if the assignments were changed, and also kept up to date.
is there documentation of how points are assigned to each event, and how many each one gets? I would like to see it and critique it.

2:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to see your asses get back to work!!!

Your BOSS!

3:03 PM

Blogger Wild Bill said...

Carey - after just doing a quick search, I found this old EatFeats article. Liz Kellermeyer probably has the breakdown of points for a 25 point contest, so you might want to check with her. Also, your Nathan's points for qualifiers were supposed to be an average; you could actually LOSE points by going to more qualifiers. I don't know if they're still doing it that way, as Mike Rizzetta (the guy who started this) has left IFOCE. Anyway, check this out: More on IFOCE points system January 19, 2007 at 12:23 pm by ojrifkin · Filed under Organizations

Competitiveeatingnews.com has more on the IFOCE points system that will be implemented starting with tomorrow’s Pretzel Twister contest. Contests will award a total of 100, 50, 25 or 15 points depending on their level of competition and purse. Points will be awarded to the top 10 finishers. The pretzel contest will be a 50 point event, and points will be awarded as follows: 1st Place = 18 pts, 2nd Place = 12 pts, 3rd Place = 6 pts, 4th Place = 4 pts, 5th Place = 3 pts, 6th Place = 2 pts, 7th Place = 2 pts, 8th Place = 1 pt, 9th Place = 1 pt and 10th Place = 1 pt

3:04 PM

Blogger Carey said...

My boss is sitting right next to me. Doesn't seem to have an opinion on the subject.
Guess I could have done a search like that.
The only thing I see wrong is distributing points to ten finishers no matter what. Smaller contests should have smaller numbers of finishers getting points. I think a handicapped point system would be better, depending on how well each person does compared to the average, or top numbers.

4:38 PM

Blogger Mega Munch said...

Seems like a moot point now that IFOCE points man Rizzetta left and the points system is gone with him (How does that work? Did he take his desk too? If Mike Castellanato leaves, does that mean there's no more shoofly contest because that's the contest he emceed this year?) Seems like they were never that serious about the points system in the first place if it can just "go away" when one person leaves.

7:50 AM

Blogger Wild Bill said...

The last update to the points system occurred after Rizzetta left, but I don't think anyone at IFOCE is truly interested in continuing his work. They'll probably continue to update it, but who knows if it will be accurate. The last update gave points to people who, by EatFeats database, haven't competed this year, and for some, never. If they have records of people who competed, why can't they post those on the contest page? I would trust EatFeats database way sooner than I would trust the points system. Like I noted in an earlier post, it's just B.S. The higher ranked eaters are clearly way ahead in points, but when you get into the middle-ranked eaters, it gets extremely muddled.

10:54 AM

Anonymous Philly Guy said...

Mike also did Strawberry shortcake this year.

11:03 AM


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