2024 NCL Season Announcement

What an amazing season 2023 was – we had record numbers of participants across our Finals and regular season, two (!) Total Victories and one of the most nail-biting Stage 2 buzzers in the adults that we’ve ever seen.

But as the calendar gets closer to 2024, the time for reflection is over and the time to look ahead is here, so we wanted to share with you some details around the upcoming season.

2024 Season Changes

While 2023 was a great season, there were a number of areas we wanted to improve or change for 2024 to ensure a sustainable future for the league.

Change #1: Number of events and length of season

The ninja landscape in Australia has changed a great deal since the Ninja Challenge League started formally operating in 2017, when we were the first and only national league on the scene.

These days, there are a number of local, regional and national ninja competitors occurring at once, which is great for the sport and for ninja consumers in giving them a diversity of options, but it means we are often fighting each other for prime weekend slots to hold events.

To reflect this, the NCL will be reducing the number of qualifying events it runs in each region and shortening the length of the season so each NCL event feels special and is better able to avoid clashes with other events – while also allowing more time and energy to go into each event.

Each region will be limited to three qualifying events for the season, which will be held at some of our top performing venues and some exciting new ones.

Our goal is to have all three qualifying events for each region held before early June, when our top athletes will turn their attention towards international competitions for the months of June/July.

We can’t announce specific dates for qualifiers yet, but we will be working through the process of selecting venues and dates in the next month or so.

Change #2: Changes to Qualifiers

Since we introduced youth competitions in 2019, it has become clear that the youth competition is far more popular than the adult competition in terms of participation.

For our host facilities, it makes a lot more financial sense for them to only run youth qualifiers.

As our cohort of competitors ages, we are also having more families with athletes in youth and adult divisions, meaning parents sometimes had to run across town on the same day or have even more weekends dedicated to ninja (which isn’t the worst thing, I suppose).

To address both of these issues, we will be implementing a model for our qualifiers based on the success of our events at Geelong Ninjas in 2023 where the youth and adult qualifiers will take place  at the same venue on the same day for all qualifiers, starting with the youngest age groups and finishing with the adults.

Change #3: Changes to Youth Finals

Somehow, we were able to get through around 220 youth athletes in a single day at this year’s NCL Finals thanks to the amazing efforts of our staff, volunteers and host facility, but if every athlete who qualified had accepted their spot – we would have been looking at an impossible 300 or so youth athletes, despite efforts to make it harder to qualify in 2023!

While huge events like this are great, they have several drawbacks: they put an enormous amount of pressure on the staff/host facility to run to time; they mean there is a significant variance in the skill levels of competitors within each division.

We have always strived to make qualifying for the NCL Finals a genuinely difficult task so the competitors who travel for it represent the best of the best for their region and are up to the challenges. That isn’t something we have always achieved, and it can result in competitors spending a great deal of money to fall on only the first or second obstacle.

We looked at a number of ways to address this, but the solution we have come up with for this season is simple.

Instead of athletes qualifying for the National Youth Finals directly through the qualifier events during the regular season, they will instead qualify for a Youth Final held in their state, so they can test their mettle against their peers from their region before deciding whether they are ready to travel interstate to compete nationally.

As an interim measure, we will only be holding these State Youth Finals in 2024 so we can get a better sense of how many athletes would be participating in each region, with the aim of re-introducing the National Youth Finals in 2025.

That said, we will still have opportunities for some of our youth competitors to compete alongside their peers from other states (more on that later).

Instead of three stages, these State Youth Finals will only feature two stages and will take place over a single day.

Our goal this year is to hold all the Youth Finals in the month of August, after competitors have returned from their international ninja travels in June/July.

While we will not be holding a National Youth Finals in 2024, competitors who qualify for their State Youth Final will be eligible to travel to compete in other State Youth Finals if they so choose – we will endeavour to hold these at times where this is feasible.

In terms of qualifications for the World Ninja League Championships and Premier Series, each State Youth Final will serve as a qualifier for each of these international competition streams as well.

Change #4: Changes to the Australian Ninja Open

The Australian Ninja Open was one of our favourite parts of the NCL Finals this year, with the Ninja Draft yielding some fascinating combinations and strategies and the athletes having a great time sprinting between obstacles to tag their team-mates or stepping up to carry the load after unlucky falls.

We were so pleased with how it went that we are not only bringing it back, we are opening it up to even more competitors!

Instead of restricting eligible athletes to those participating at the NCL Adult Finals, we will have a number of spots available to any NCL member born in 2011 or older.

These spots will be filled on first come, first served basis, but all athletes will need to earn their spot in the pool of competitors for the Ninja Draft with their performance on an eligibility run.

Similar to the 2023 version, the 2024 Australian Ninja Open will be held on the same weekend as the NCL Adult Finals, with Stage 1 of the Finals serving as the eligibility run and the Ninja Draft taking place at the end of Day 1 of the Finals, with the Australian Ninja Open to follow the conclusion of Stage 3 on Day 2.

While we are still working through the logistics of how captains will be chosen and how many teams we will have available, we can reveal these details:

So even though the Australian Ninja Open is open to non-Finalists, you should definitely do your best to qualify so you have a better sense of how well you’ll need to perform to get into the Ninja Draft and be chosen for a team.

Change #5: New venue for the NCL Adult Finals and Australian Ninja Open

Before revealing the dates and venue for this year’s end-of-season event, we want to take a moment to acknowledge The Compound Training and Clem for the amazing job they did hosting us for the past two seasons – we both decided it was time to give this opportunity to another venue and we hope to continue to move the Finals around on a semi-regular basis.

Having said that, we’re excited to announce the host for the NCL Finals + Australian Ninja Open will be Geelong Ninjas!

They held our biggest qualifiers for 2023 and after personally scouting the location in October, we’re confident it has all the elements needed to host an amazing end-of-year event – we can’t wait to work with them and bring you a fresh Finals experience.

The dates for the 2024 Australian Ninja Open + NCL Adult Finals will be October 5 & 6, 2024 – so make sure you mark these in your calendars!

That’s all the news we have to share with you for now, but we look forward to announcing more dates and venues in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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