After finishing 2nd in the MVP race in the 2019 ISL season, even after missing the Condors’ opening meet of the season. This year, with a full schedule under his belt, Dressel is in runaway territory for the league MVP award and, barring something tragic, will be the season MVP and earn the $100,000 bonus that goes with that honor.
The battle for 2nd through 4th positions, however, is down to the wire, with Ryan Murphy of the LA Current, Beryl Gastaldello of the LA Current, and Lilly King of the Cali Condors separated by just .5 points between them.
MVP Scoring Through Day 1 of the ISL Grand Finale:
- 408.0 – Caeleb Dressel, CAC
- 318.0 – Ryan Murphy, LAC
- 318.0 – Beryl Gastaldello, LAC
- 317.5 – Lilly King, CAC
- 281.0 – Sarah Sjostrom, ENS
- 259.0 – Olivia Smoliga, CAC
- 231.5 – Emre Sakci, IRO
- 229.5 – Tom Shields, LAC
- 228.0 – Siobhan Haughey, ENS
- 226.0 – Chad le Clos, ENS
- 207.0 – Ranomi Kromowidjojo, IRO
- 201.25 – Hali Flickinger, CAC
- 194.0 – Ilya Shymanovich, ENS
- 180.0 – Szebastian Szabo, IRO
- 176.0 – Beata Nelson, CAC
Reminder: Sjostrom missed a regular season match with a back injury.
The runner-up for MVP will earn $80,000, the 3rd-place finisher will win $60,000, and the 4th place finisher will win $50,000.
With breaststroke being the choice for both ‘skins’ races, King looks like she’s got the upper hand here. The winner of 4 ‘skins’ events this season already, she’s favored in Sunday’s finale, even if she hasn’t been as invincible lately as usual.
She also has the 100 breaststroke remaining, which, based on relay splits, she’ll be favored in – with the number of Jackpots remaining a variable there.
Murphy will probably have 2 races on his schedule, the 100 back, where he’s probably the favorite after winning the 50 and not winning the 200; and the mixed medley relay, where he’ll probably be used with no ‘skins’ race to save his energy for.
Gastaldello, meanwhile, has 3 likely races: the 100 IM and 50 fly individually, and the mixed 400 free relay. She won both the 100 IM and 50 fly in the semi-finals, and has been one of the best in those races all season.
On Saturday, she had mixed results, winning the 100 fly opener in an upset over Sarah Sjostrom, but then finishing just 6th in the 50 free and 4th in the 50 back.
If King repeats her day 2 performance from the semi-finals, winning the 100 breaststroke for 10 points and scoring 38 points in the ‘skins’ race (which are halved for MVP purposes), that comes out to 29 points on her total.
That’s not insurmountable. If Murphy scores 10 points by winning the 100 back, like he did in the semifinals, and the LA Current win the mixed 400 free relay, though they’re not favored, he would pick up 14.5 points. Even with a few more Jackpot points in those wins, that’s probably not doable.
For Gastaldello, however, it’s more plausible. On day 2 of the semifinals, she picked up 19 points in the 100 IM and 12 points in the 50 fly. Some of those Jackpot opportunities (Cali’s #2 100 IMer, London’s #2 IMer) in the 100 IM survived, though none advanced in the 50 fly.
So if she picks up 1 Jackpot in the 50 fly, and 2 in the 100 IM, that would give her 22 points. A mixed free relay win with no Jackpots would bring her up to 26.5.
Compared to King’s 29 day 2 projected points, that’s still not quite enough, even with Gastaldello’s half-point lead coming in.
But, it’s within reach. If King loses one of those projected Jackpots, or Gastaldello picks up another from the conservative projection, then Gastaldello could beat out King for #2.
Gastaldello and King don’t have any head-to-head battles on the day, nor do King and Murphy or Gastaldello and Murphy, but the battle-within-the-battle still rages on for a lot of cash.