ESPN The Magazine’s “Dominant 20” Issue Looks at the Year’s Most Dominant Athletes

ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine’s “Dominant 20” Issue Looks at the Year’s Most Dominant Athletes

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Simone Biles Nabs the Top Spot and the Cover

ESPN The Magazine ends the year by highlighting the 20 most dominant athletes of 2018 in the current issue, hitting newsstands on Friday. Senior writer Peter Keating developed a statistical methodology to determine the list of athletes who redefined the impossible. The top spot and cover was revealed on Good Morning America this morning, when Simone Biles sat down to talk about her year with Robin Roberts. In the issue’s cover story, The Undefeated’s Danyel Smith chronicles Biles’ journey to unparalleled dominance.

Below is ESPN The Magazine’s full “Dominant 20” list:

  1. Simone Biles (Olympic gymnast)
  2. Eliud Kipchoge (Olympic runner)
  3. Daniel Cormier  (MMA fighter/former Olympic wrestler)
  4. Ariya Jutanugarn (professional golfer)
  5. Katie Ledecky (Olympic swimmer)
  6. Chloe Kim (Olympic snowboarder)
  7. Breanna Stewart (WNBA/Seattle Storm)
  8. Luka Modric (professional soccer player/Real Madrid)
  9. Simona Halep (professional tennis player)
  10. Novak Djokovic (professional tennis player)
  11. YuzuruHanyu (Olympic figure skater)
  12. Lewis Hamilton (professional race car driver)
  13. LeBron James (NBA/Los Angeles Lakers)
  14. Mookie Betts (MLB/Boston Red Sox)
  15. Drew Brees (NFL/New Orleans Saints)
  16. Justify (Triple Crown winner)
  17. Alex Ovechkin (NHL/Washington Capitals)
  18. PatrickMahomes (NFL/Kansas City Chiefs)
  19. James Harden (NBA/Houston Rockets)
  20. Mike Trout (MLB/Los Angeles Angels)

ESPN The Magazine’s “Dominant 20” list was created by pitting the year’s best against their top rivals with cold, hard math. The process started by grading athletes by the strongest performance measures available in their sport over their most recently completed season (except F1 numbers, which are through Nov. 11, and NFL numbers, which are through Nov. 26), including timed scores, earnings and, wherever possible, advanced metrics. Then, to put those achievements into historical perspective, top athletes in a sport were compared to the best in their field each year since 1998, and results were adjusted to put those athletes onto one common baseline, yielding our ratings. (Media note – Peter Keating is available for media interviews to discuss the statistical method.)

Additionally, look for the “Dominant 20” prime-time special that will air Thursday, Dec. 20, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Various ESPN writers/personalities including Peter Keating, Mina Kimes, Jeremy Schaap and Clinton Yates will discuss The Mag’s list of athletes.

Also in “Dominant 20”:

Generations in the Making

Senior writer Wright Thompson explores why the success of Tua Tagovailoa does not begin in Alabama or even Hawaii, but is tied to a decision his great-grandfather made to chart a new path for his family’s legacy.  

Good JuJu

His own YouTube channel? Call of Duty appearances? Pizza Hut deals? Not to mention 97-yard TDs? JuJu Smith-Schuster wants all the things. By Dotun Akintoye

A Very Merry Shopping Spree

Senior writer Sam Alipour took Boston swingman Jayson Tatum on a fast break through the mall for presents to dish to teammates and loved ones on Christmas Day … and he’s about to make Brad Stevens one happy coach! 

The Walk-In: Henrik Lundqvist Is Fitted for a King

Henrik Lundqvist is in his 14th NHL season with the Rangers. He’s made four All-Star teams. He’s won a Vezina Trophy. And he’s got a killer fashion sense to boot. By Stacey Pressman

Money Brawl: Cyborg vs. Nunes 

On the cusp of the biggest fight in the history of women’s MMA, Cris “Cyborg” Justino must stare down the question that haunts her career: Is her excellence enough to make people care? By Hallie Grossman

What’s Lurking in Your Stadium Food?

Outside the Lines reviewed food-safety inspection reports for all 111 venues used in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. The findings at many facilities—more than 30 percent of which incurred high-risk violations—were less than appetizing.

Tiny Oral History: Ready, Set, Split!

As Clemson celebrated beating Bama for the 2016 national title, players danced and kissed the CFP trophy. Then Christian Wilkins stole the postgame show with two gymnastics moves that a 315-pound defensive lineman just shouldn’t be able to do. By David Hale

Breaking Big

Motocross and Supercross star Ken Roczen thought he might never race again after two horrific crashes. But his incredible comeback is almost here. By Alyssa Roenigk  

And Sometimes the Bear Eats You

To run the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon is to know the limits of endurance—and the triumph of failure. (This feature is in collaboration with espnW.) By Kelaine Conochan

The Truth

Senior writer Howard Bryant looks at the legacy of LeBron James, and while there’s no more questioning the King’s place in history, Bryant does have some questions for his former team.


Media Contact:

Jay Jay Nesheim: 646-547-5839, [email protected]


Jay Jay Nesheim

I currently manage PR efforts for several areas at ESPN including the Emmy + Oscar-winning "30 for 30" series from ESPN Films, Original Programming, The ESPYS, espnW and more.
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