In 2007, the first annual CrossFit Games were contested in Aromas, California, on a small ranch owned by the family of Games director Dave Castro. For the initial Games in 2007 and 2008, participation was open to anyone who made it to Aromas. The Games would also award an Affiliate Cup to the group from one CrossFit gym that had the best combined individual standings. In 2009, competitors had to qualify after over a hundred athletes had shown up in 2008. The athletes earned an invitation through either placing high enough in the previous year or through placing in the top worldwide in a set of qualifying events called Regionals hosted at a few CrossFit gyms. The CrossFit Games also added a separate set of team-based events for the Affiliate Cup, marking the first use of a designated Team Division, with teams of four (two men and two women).
This 2003 CrossFit Journal article captures an early conception of a universal, multi-event test of fitness that laid the foundation for CrossFit competition, including what would become the CrossFit Open and the CrossFit Games. The design requirements for such a test "included but were not limited to the following: quantifiable results; consistency with the CrossFit fitness concept; raising our commitment to improving absolute strength, relative strength, and gymnastic foundations; balancing intrinsic abilities of smaller and larger athletes; emphasizing exercises critical to and foundational to advanced training; mixing training demands within each test and, of course, over the total competition; a design that would identify an athlete’s weaknesses and possibly stand as a workout plan for improving overall fitness; and, finally, we wanted to design a competition that would be 'hard as hell.'"