That Hansel Medina, he’s so hot right now! I’m pretty sure he’s an ambi-turner as well. Medina was head-and-shoulders above the competition at the QuikPro, sometimes literally. He has been building form steadily since JBay, and I don’t see him slowing down as the season draws to its crescendo. The ticket for guys like Adriano and Mick is to play their own game and bring the same type of intensity; if they make semis or better, they can still shut him out regardless of how well he’s surfing. Let’s drift late off the bottom, hold our line and pull deep into the Portugal pro…
The Holy Trinity
I will again give you an overview of the three main areas of concern for any fantasy surf fan (those wanting a reminder of the basics, my Fantasy 101 article can be found here):
Analysing the conditions means having one eye on the forecast; know whether the event surfers are going to be pulling into overhead slabs or milking knee-high end sections for a ramp and you’ll be part-way to knowing who would be best on your team. Another way to analyse the conditions is to look at each surfer’s success at this event in previous years; if they know how to win here, they obviously suit the conditions. Given that the forecast is for smallish, slightly onshore conditions over the first week and a "low confidence [chance that] we may see the North Atlantic start to show some life setting up the potential for more swell during the last week of October”, here are my nominations for strong "conditions" surfers for Portugal.
Julian Wilson – Look up Surf-Stats’ Research Tools for Portugal and you’ll find that Wilson has the highest heat average at this event. He can milk the small stuff, find ramps and knows his way around a tube if it gets bigger.
Mick Fanning – Mick won last year and I dare you to name a set of conditions in Portugal that would be beyond him. He has the 2nd highest career heat average at this event.
Kai Otton – Kai took 2nd here in 2014 and won it in 2013. Impressed? Things may be different if the swell stays small, but it’s a proven track record.
Form (by Tiers)
Gabe – Name a surfer with better form at the moment. Actually, don’t bother; you’re wasting both of our time.
Mick – Mick’s form is still strong. It took King of the Sleepers Bede and a lack of QF waves to beat Mick in France. Fanning will be even hungrier after that loss, mark my words.
Julian – How good was Julian in France? Hardly anyone was talking about him, but he was en fuego~ until he crossed paths with Bede (can you see a pattern here?). It’s great to see him back.
Bede – How could I not suggest him after the last few points? He really had his rail game switched on in France and he is a seasoned competitor who will know how to use his momentum to good effect.
*Warning* Kelly – Assuming he even turns up, I’d be hesitant to pick Kelly based on form. He has generally provided plenty of highlights in the early rounds, only to get beaten. Never rule him out, but I can’t suggest picking him.
~ Yes, I know that this term is neither French nor Portuguese, I just like it
Ace – Buchan was another surfer who was ripping in France, only to be beaten by an in-form Bede Durbidge. Ask anyone who was there and they will tell you that Ace vs. Bede was the heat of the contest. Ace’s form is good, despite his below-par last result.
John John – One good event does not equal a ton of form, but I have to say that he seems to be approaching things differently since his humbling loss at Lowers and he seems keen to develop greater contest IQ. I don’t think France was a fluke; I think JJF is building towards something and we all know a title begins in Europe the year beforehand…
Flores – In Flores you’re getting someone who has had pretty solid form all year (no 25ths), a win in Tahiti and the top-seeded Tier B surfer. He has also scored 60+ points better than the next best Tier B surfer (Wiggolly) during the 2015 season.
Kolohe – “Chloe” earned his exoneration from the blacklist by making it to R5, beating Slater and being the best Tier C option in the QuikPro contest. He was solid at Lowers, great in the Euro QS events and screams ‘form’. It sucks that he’s no longer in Tier C.
Wilko – Wilko surfs so well when he’s on. He scored 2 x 16 point heats in France, meaning his wave average was in the ‘excellent’ range for two heats.
*Warning* Parko – How’s that injury going? It’s hardly going to help him lift his already humble 2015 form.
With all of the injuries, Tier C is getting pretty thin. Kolohe and Seabass moved up, leaving Melling as top seed. Ouch. There will no-doubt be some great value sleepers here, but it will be a tough gig picking two solid options.
Clifton – CJ had a fairly good event in France. He is the 2nd highest seed in this tier as well so he could be worth a shot.
Mason Ho – Mason beat Fanning in R1 at the Bells contest this year, and only lost narrowly (<2 points) to Medina in R3. That was a long time ago in regards to this contest, but it’s still worthy of a mention.
*Warning* Some of these wildcards are bound to be overwhelmed by their first start in a world tour event. QS form is great to a point, but you can’t automatically transfer that into CT success.
This factor is probably the least important of the three. It is also the most prone to 11-hour changes through withdrawals, etc. (I’m looking at you, Slater). So it should always be considered with an eye on the WSL site. Here are my stand-outs (best chance of a R1 win) for each tier:
*Heat 11 is probably the toughest of the round, but I still rate John John to step up
^I can’t honestly back any of the Tier C surfers with confidence at this contest
The two finalists (Gabe and Bede) were both owned by <10% of players. That means that: a) most people missed the boat on the two best options for both tiers, b) those who picked them were laughing all the way to the top of the leaderboard and c) not enough people read my articles (okay, okay, I didn’t suggest Bede). Here are my top suggestions for surfers owned by less than 10% of all teams (at time of writing):
Italo (0%) – Italo has been so good this year. It would be hard to select him over the likes of Mick/Medina/ADS etc., but you’d look like Rainman if he pays off.
Kai (9%) – Ottz has form here. He is the perfect sleeper for this kind of event (unless its knee-high dribble).
Kolohe (1%) – Brother has jumped a tier, meaning that he was automatically removed from all teams. Is he worth the risk? I think his form is worth considering.
Flores (2%) – Jeremy went down a tier after his 9th at France. He is a top-10 surfer and definitely worth more than his percentages suggest.
Ho (1%) – Mason’s a decent Tier C option who has proven he’s up to the world tour challenge.
If you are risk averse, Parko (45%), JJF (53%), and Mick Fanning (52%) will make you feel safe as houses.
By the Numbers
I have slightly more confidence in this draw than the last few; most of the possible injury withdrawals have already been confirmed and replaced. Kelly and Joel are a little concerning, but we will have to make do for now. Here are the Surf-Stats projected totals across the R1 heat draw:
|H1:||Filipe Toledo 101.55||Jadson Andre 50.92||Tomas Hermes 24.13|
|H2:||Gabriel Medina 116.03||Miguel Pupo 49.98||Mason Ho 26.57|
|H3:||Julian Wilson 115.53||Keanu Asing 25.62||Caio Ibelli 20.52|
|H4:||Owen Wright 114.99||Michel Bourez 49.19||Vasco Ribeiro 19.73|
|H5:||Adriano De Souza 104.40||Kolohe Andino 44.71||Frederico Morais 23.05|
|H6:||Mick Fanning 123.97||Sebastian Zietz 55.14||Tiago Pires 21.15|
|H7:||Kelly Slater 99.47||Adrian Buchan 51.88||Aritz Aranburu 46.65|
|H8:||Italo Ferreira 101.69||Joel Parkinson 54.23||Brett Simpson 25.05|
|H9:||Jeremy Flores 93.19||Matt Wilkinson 49.83||Ricardo Christie 45.55|
|H10:||Nat Young 92.73||Kai Otton 78.65||Glenn Hall 23.38|
|H11:||Bede Durbidge 83.32||John John Florence 83.77||CJ Hobgood 27.90|
|H12:||Josh Kerr 56.74||Wiggolly Dantas 87.04||Adam Melling 25.15|
If you were to use this data in isolation, the following would be the best possible team:
Tier A: Mick Fanning - 123.97 and Gabriel Medina 116.03
Tier B: Jeremy Flores 93.19, Nat Young 92.73, Wiggolly Dantas 87.04, John John Florence 83.77
Tier C: Aritz Aranburu 46.65 and Ricardo Christie 45.55
This team has a projected score of 688.93, which is the lowest predicted event total that I can remember seeing this year (all of the injury withdrawals have lessened the projections for many of the Tier B surfers, thus skewing everything towards the top tier and reducing the number of predicted upsets). It has only one R1 clash in Flores vs. Christie and it looks to be a solid team in a tough draw. After the success of the projections in France, it may be worth considering a number of these picks.
The WSL fantasy Surf-Stats Numbers Team will be running with these 8 surfers in the Surf-Stats Clubhouse group, so you can test your own picks against the numbers men (there’s more about how to sign up and try your hand at beating this team at the bottom of the page).
Team ‘Fantasy Wash-Up’
Season-wise I’m likening myself to John John: I’ve tasted success, had a poor run and now I’m primed for a big finish. After jumping 300+ places in the rankings, I’m full of undeserved confidence and ready to implode. Here’s my team for the Portugal event:
Medina – I’d pick him twice if I could. I honestly think he’ll be raring to go at this event, especially with the short turn-around after his big win in France. I can see Gabe winning Portugal and making the world title race a ménage à trois coming into Pipe. How European.
Mick – Mick is the safer choice. I really like Julian at this event, but my head says Mick is a better option. Good luck to you if your decide to back JW.
JJF – Did you watch the France event live via the WSL feed? Did you see that ad? No, not the annoying Jeep one, and not the Roxy one either, you filthy animal, I mean the preview for Portugal; did you see it? Did you see that barrel? You know - the one where John John weaved like a sub-continental child-labourer in a Nike sweatshop through a perfect, chocolate-brown Portuguese tube? Man, I saw it; I saw it plenty. It was hypnotising. I’m choosing Florence.
Bede – Some people criticise Bede by saying he is too ‘safe’ and doesn’t push himself enough. He has even been described as being robotic. Even I would have to admit that Bede had fallen off my radar before France. Well, after watching his silky hot-knife-through-butter turns at France, I’d have to say that Bede is more T-1000 than R2-fucking-D2 in the robot stakes. Lock him in and bring on the apocalypse.
Wiggolly – Surely with a name like Wiggolly there would have to be some stellar nicknames out there for this guy. So why haven’t I heard any? Anyway, it’s easy to forget that this is Dantas’ first year on tour as he’s been pretty solid, running 5, 9, 9, 5 before France. He’s bound to make occasional mistakes though and that’s what I put France down to; I think he’ll bounce back in Portugal.
Flores – Jeremy was a Tier A surfer until this event. He has surfed Portugal heaps and he rides a tube like I do in my dreams. He actually tanked here last year, but I think he is a different beast in 2015; he’s in the team.
CJ – Last event it was Kolohe getting pulled from the blacklist and put on my team; this event it’s Clifton. If surfers keep getting injured, I won’t have a blacklist at all. Hopefully Ceej can honour his promotion with some results.
Ho – Mason has potential. His seeding isn’t great, but I’m taking a risk here and backing the guy who was able to take out Mick at Bells. C’mon Mason, don’t let me down.
The blacklist is my way of getting back at the surfers who have scorned me in contests past. Or it just lets me poke fun of surfers much more talented than I am who happen to be surfing poorly in contests. The list changes with the fortunes of the surfers, but here it stands currently:
- Parko – It was bound to happen after a poor year, but it was his 2.86 heat total that finally did it. Maybe his focus is on his soon-to-be operating craft beer brewery investment more-so than his contest results? Either way, I’m not looking at Joel until I’m sure his injury is OK.
- Wilko – As I’ve said before, the problem I have with Wilko is that he never blows up when I pick him. In fact, his very selection seems to guarantee an early exit. It was good to see Wilko do well in France, but he will remain on the blacklist until I see some consistency.
- Dusty – Even Dusty has lost faith in Dusty. He is out for Portugal.
- Simpo – Simpo equalled his best result of the year with a 13th in France. Unlucky for some; a season highlight for Brett.
- Micro – Glenn has had 5 x 25ths in his last 6 events. The other was a 13th.
- Richardo Cristie – Richardo is destined to be a one-year-wonder at this rate. His numbers say that he’s a good choice in Tier C, but I don’t see enough positive body language from him after copping so many losses. Gabe Kling will be cheering him on at Potugal, I’m sure. I hope he proves me wrong.
- Adam Melling – Melling is the top ranked Tier C option in this contest. Do you know what that means? It basically means that he will be beaten by a much lower seed in R2 than many of the other Tier C surfers.
- Jordy – Jordy actually did the right thing and pulled out of this event early, making sure that the heat draws were a lot more reliable and the wildcards had time to prepare. Good on him. He was owned by the same number of people as Medina and Bede last event (9%), which shows how much of a douche he was being by pretending he was actually going to surf. Even Ross Williams suggested him as a pick. Anyway, don’t pick him. Seriously, it’s not even clever.
Now that you know the team break-downs, it’s time for you to create a team that will wipe the floor with mine and hold me to account. The easiest way to prove your dominance is to sign up to the clubhouse (password ‘fantasy’). Inside you’ll find The Fantasy Wash-Up team, the Surf-Stats Numbers Team, the Surf-Stats Gut Instincts and the teams of any other readers willing to throw down the fantasy gauntlet. The winner of each contest will get a shout-out in the wrap-up article and bragging rights until the next event. The reigning champion, Aaron’s Picks is keen to hold on to his title, as he’s only had it for 3 days, but there will be plenty chasing him. There are currently 28 teams in there to beat, but if we can rope in some more players and get the numbers higher, we could be talking prizes rather than shout-outs.
If you want to challenge me to the point of taking my money, hit up Fantasurf and find one of the Fantasy Wash-Up leagues; there's a $3, $5 and $10 option, all with a 10-entry limit and pay-outs for the top 3. Bragging rights are one thing, but making money is something you can actually tell your wife about...
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As always, feel free to comment or leave your team selections below.
See you on the leaderboard,
The Fantasy Wash-Up