Updates (10 December, 2015)
Owen Wright's injury and status are still unknown. The latest suggests it could be water in the lungs - not something of a long-term worry, but would definitely impact his participation in the Pipe Masters. We'll keep an eye on it at our Injury Hub, but since we didn't suggest him for your team anyway, this only makes for a stronger argument. We wish Owen a speedy recovery whatever the case may be, and hope he is well enough to surf. Should he withdraw, the replacement would be at WSL discretion and our bet would be Mason Ho.
Pipe Invitational and Confirmed Wildcards:
It's 17 year-old Jack Robinson (AUS) and Jamie O'Brien (HAW) locked in as the Pipe Masters Wildcards. Here is the updated Heat Draw (note: Wright is still scheduled to compete as of now):
Before we jump in and (whole-heartedly) recommend both of them for Tier C, we'll provide some background as to why. Here is a sortable stats table for the Pipe Invitational earlier today:
2015 Pipe Invitational StatsHeat Score, Finishing Place, Average Heat Score, Total Points, Highest Heat
In the stats by country, thanks to Jack Robinson's onslaught, Australia came away with the event win, top event AHS at 6.45 (HAW=5.08, USA=5.68), top average finish (5th), and top average points (24).
Even though Robinson carried Australia to the leaderboard, he couldn't beach Jamie O'Brien on individual event stats: Jamie-O locked down the top Heat Score (18.00), top event AHS (12.13) and the most points overall at 48.53 (Robinson=44.46).
Jack Robinson won the Finals having surfed only one single wave for a 9.43.
Hot butter - that's talent! And now the updated Outlooks:
WSL Fantasy Surfing Tier C
LOCK: Jamie O'Brien (12.86 Proj AHS for 82.67 Proj Pts / 0% Start) AND Jack Robinson (11.98 Proj AHS for 52.74 Proj Pts / 0% Start) - There is way too much to like about how these two surfed a tough trials event today. In Pipe conditions that sent Owen Wright to the hospital, our tier LOCKs had a field day. Jack Robinson only lost R1 and Jamie O'Brien only lost the F - but neither ever finished outside 2nd for a Heat.
Jamie O'Brien has a Pipeline career 13.15 AHS and 21 QSFW. He won the event in 2004 and is among the best in the world at this particular break. He is a Wildcard, but we think he has a better shot at winning the Masters than Mick Fanning, Adriano de Souza and Filipe Toledo. For a WC, O'Brien has a dream matchup against Toledo and Kolohe Andino. Given the conditions on deck, he's almost a guarantee to win R1. If you only want to take one of our Tier C LOCKs, make it JOB. #WhoisJOB? Toledo's worst R1 nightmare.
Jack Robinson is slightly more of a risk because we're only going by a few factors. 1) Obviously his performance at the Invitational was enough to perk anyone's interest. He showed a lot of maturity, concentration, poise and talent well beyond his years. 2) The West Oz native is right at home in huge barreling conditions, that's what earned him this Wildcard spot in the first place. Robinson is like the JJF of West Australia. 3) We don't love anyone else in Tier C. Besides Bruce Irons, it's very slim pickings and Bruce is the lowest ranked seed. That means for every seeded Round he surfs, he will always be up against the best. Mick Fanning/Sebastian Zietz is also the most formidable matchup any of the four bottom guys will face. For those reasons, we're staying away from Irons and sticking with Robinson - who should have no problem blowing our projected line out of the water surfing like he did today.
All four INJ Replacement/Wildcards are currently at 0% started, so they can all make dreams come true for the bold drafter.
Wade Carmichael is surfing against Gabriel Medina in R1 so he's off our radar completely.
Fantasy Surfer Values
See above. We've got JOB and J-Rob on our team, as well as Gabriel Medina with Bruce Irons as the alternate. The rest is up to you but, our Fantasy Surfer Outlook below hasn't changed beyond that.
The 2015 season will begin it's end in the next few weeks at Oahu's Banzai Pipeline. The forecast conditions look solid for 10 December following a frightening Pipe Invitational.
Injury and Withdrawals: Owen Wright is uncertain in status after being hospitalized in the wake of a wipeout/set beating. Everything looks fine as far as his health goes, but stay posted at our Injury Hub. Jordy Smith has semi-successfully surfed in both QS events of the Vans Triple Crown and is Probable for the Pipe Masters. That just means he'll compete, though, and we're skeptical of his form. Freddy Patacchia Jr. will stay true to retirement and has withdrawn along with Matt Banting (knee) who will miss his sixth straight event. Banting and Smith will remain hopefuls for the 2016 CT Wildcard spots, though Smith is more probable due to tenure.
Taj Burrow will make his return following a two-event paternity absence. He'll come back to the CT in a R1H9 "Heritage Heat" of sorts, alongside C.J. Hobgood and Kelly Slater.
As always, we invite you to join us at the Surf-Stats Clubhouse on WSL Fantasy Surfing [password: fantasy]. Strut your stuff and beat us for a prize as well as your place in our upcoming Fantasy Hall of Fame.
The Pipe Masters Heat Draw v. 2.0 has dropped, and has officially seeded replacements and wildcards; crunch time is upon us, so we'll jump right into the Outlook...
WSL Fantasy Surfing
LOCK: Gabriel Medina (13.6 Proj AHS for 121.93 Proj Pts / 25% Start) - Medina's had some ups and some downs this season, but all his ups have come in the second half of the year. His stock is hot right now and while Mick Fanning is certainly in form (having just won his first Vans World Cup), Gabe has outperformed him in the conditions on tap. Mick's 14.59 AHS in 6-8' Lefts this year is well above 12.18 CT average, but Medina's is almost an entire point higher at 15.42. He also leads Fanning in QSFW for those variables 8-1 (thanks to Fiji) and only trails in Pipe QSFW by 3. Our model projects Mick to have a solid event, but ultimately gives Gabs the win; as the 4 seed, he'll also have the luxury of facing a Wildcard in R1. Pop, drop and LOCK it.
Julian Wilson (13.1 Proj AHS for 110.02 Proj Pts / 24% Start) - Julian has been spraying finishes in every direction this year with no real discernible pattern. In similar conditions at Fiji he cruised to the F for 114.33 FP, but then dropped an ugly 40.16 in Tahiti. Most recently in Europe he scored 115.18 at France but then a 21.76 in Portugal. Here's a visual of his year-to-date (keep in mind high values are bad, like golf):
His line is trending sour, but a better PRT finish would have spotted him closer to a flat 9th average.
The reason we're outlining this data for Jules is risk. He's been a risky play for every event this year and you can never tell when he's going to bust out a decent score. We like him for Pipe, our model likes him for Pipe (3rd place projected), you like him for Pipe and so does your grandma. He's already grabbed a 16 QSFW here, but his Hawaii 10.72 AHS is a bit of a red flag. For us, the ceiling isn't an event win (even after taking it last year) - which you're really looking for in Tier A - and he's proven that the floor is R2. We can neither laud nor protest him as a pick because honestly, he's a coin flip.
Owen Wright (12.17 Proj AHS for 109.63 Proj Pts / 14% Start) - First, look for Owen's start percentage to jump once people realize Pipeline drafting is open and second, don't take the bait. Yes, we all saw his double perfect rainbow in Fiji - historic - and he didn't totally disappoint in TAH either, posting 110.37 FP. Wright just hasn't seen that much success on the North Shore over his career, owning an sub-solid 1 QSFW and even worse 8.82 Pipe AHS. He's not the worst pick in the tier by any means and there's no saying he can't breakout for a huge event, but given his probable popularity by Tuesday and a nasty looking track record, we'll be sitting him out.
It's A Trap
Adriano de Souza (13 Proj AHS for 99.52 Proj Pts / 24% Start) - He's definitely one of the World's best, especially this year, but Adriano de Souza is a bad choice for the Pipe Masters. Since 2006 he's made it out of R3 exactly once (2008), only to drop in R4 and has never made a QF. That probably has something to do with his 10.03 event AHS and 10.9 in 8-10'+ swell; statistically speaking, Pipe is by far de Souza's worst location. He's a huge fade for us (along with Filipe Toledo for much the same reasons).
Italo Ferreira (12.4 Proj AHS for 105.2 Proj Pts / 1% Start) - We honestly want to call Italo a LOCK at this point because he's that good. Again, he'll head into uncharted waters where no one will know what to expect. We expect to be impressed again. Ferreira was our Portugal Sleeper and that panned out pretty well as he took 2nd, posting 126.21 FP for only 1% of teams. Try not to get caught sleeping yourself this time. Italo has a 13.59 AHS going backside and a 12.96 in 8-10'+ waves in his rookie season. Barely out of the Title hunt (in his first CT), Ferreira is free to surf without pressure - he's got Rookie of the Year in the bag with Wiggolly Dantas trailing by 14,750 rankings points and he needn't worry about 2016 qualification. Never one to take competition lightly, we won't look for Italo to slow down here - expect an absolute show.
Jeremy Flores (13 Proj AHS for 108.64 Proj Pts / 0% Start) - Once again, Jeremy Flores has found himself in Tier A and thus makes for a risky Pipe pickup. He's a Tier B LOCK that just can't keep his nose out of the Elite 8. If you can't stay away from Fanning and are on the fence about Ferreira, Flores could be a great hedge for start percentage. 16 QSFW by way of 12.16 Hawaii AHS, Jeremy is a former Pipe Master (2010) who knows how to surf this break efficiently. There's a lot of talent in Tier A, but Flores is definitely worth consideration.
LOCK: John John Florence (13.8 Proj AHS for 103.06 Proj Pts / 55% Start) - It's been a very long time since we've even endorsed John John Florence at all, but he's a LOCK for his backyard break. The same risks we've outlined all year about his absent competitive drive and lackadaisical attitude are alive and well, but the upside - especially for Tier B - is too great to ignore. We haven't been stoked on Florence in 2015 because natural ability has seemingly crippled his work ethic; he's always been phenomenal without trying and it's been a bane all year. But this is Hawaii, and this is Pipeline. This is one of the few places where JJ's harmony with the break make him an undeniable threat - he doesn't have to try to be among the lineup's best. Since 2009 he's never finished worse than 13th, is averaging 9.5th and already has a F under his belt (2013, Slaters most recent event win). Florence has the highest projected AHS for the event and the highest career Pipe AHS at 15.49.
He'll likely increase in start percentage as more players start drafting this weekend and that's fine. If he's up anywhere near 65% (and he could be North of that by Thursday), you'll be in even safer waters. The rest of Tier B will be a tougher decision, but with four slots available, John John is an easy choice for the LOCK.
Nat Young (12.25 Proj AHS for 102.19 Proj Pts / 14% Start) - Nat Young has a small sample size of data for Pipeline, having only surfed the event twice the past few seasons, but he's third in tier AHS for 8-10'+ at 13.4. That's fourth overall and he's averaging a 13.52 in HAW. Don't let a 0 QSFW throw you off, it's only a matter of time before Nat delivers and it could be as early as this year.
Josh Kerr (12.15 Proj AHS for 94.98 Proj Pts / 14% Start) - We're on the fence about Josh Kerr and probably won't start him, but that doesn't mean he isn't worth a look. Kerrzy took 3rd last year and 2nd in 2012 for a 10 QSFW and 13.31 event AHS - very solid among the tier. He's been a disappointment so far this year, but still sits at number 12 in the World and thrives in heavy conditions. There's not a lot of depth in the B-Hive for Pipe and Kerr may need to make an appearance.
It's A Trap
Joel Parkinson (12.75 Proj AHS for 99.27 Proj Pts) - We wouldn't touch Parko with a 10' pole at the 2015 Pipe Masters. This has been a year to forget for Joel as he's made only 3 QF and has failed to make a SF for the first time since 2005 (not including his 2010 injured season). In case you're looking for some visual evidence of Parkinson's decline, here is his QSFW since 2011:Mayday! Mayday! This trend is sinking fast and if his start percentage stays anywhere near where it's at now, let 39% of teams go down with that ship.
Kai Otton (11.95 Proj AHS for 89.09 Proj Pts / 11% Start) - Kai has been sneaking under the radar, but trending opposite of Parko over the last few Pipe Masters events. His 1 QSFW comes from last year's QF finish and in 2013 he placed 9th - at 11% started you might be able to slip one passed the guard here.
Wiggolly Dantas (11.13 Proj AHS for 82.51 Proj Pts / 21% Start) - We had much higher hopes for Wiggolly Dantas in his rookie debut, in particular for the bigger left-hand locations. He hasn't been a disappointment; as a rookie he's done well, but he also hasn't taken charge as much as we would have liked to see in his preferred conditions. We're sticking with our guns for Pipeline, as this is Dantas' last shot at a 2015 statement.
*A quick note on Kelly Slater (13.4 Proj AHS for 102.95 Proj Pts / 4% Start) - Slater won the Pipe Masters in 2013, but that is his most recent event win. 2015 is the first year in which he's failed to make a F and his decline is very real. He'll be the first to tell you that it's time to win or go home, and as huge Kelly fans, we're not looking forward to that ultimatum. With minor injuries nagging his performance all year, perhaps the long break will do Slats some good. There just isn't enough evidence to support a potential success here.
We can all tip our caps during R1H9 as an ode to a fading generation of greats. The Heat of Legends will feature Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow and C.J. Hobgood, the three longest-standing veterans on the current Championship Tour. In total, they'll bring over 57 years of experience into the water and we can't wait to watch.
*Update: Many of you have been suggesting that Kelly Slater would, in fact, make a great pick for the 2015 Pipe Masters. Here's what we have to say to that: You've probably been saying that all year. Kelly's been very easy to rationalize at each and every 2015 event and we've fallen victim to the Super-Slater myth as well. Who wants their hero to be fallible? Slater's always a threat, right? We've gone back and forth at each location this year, but eventually had to look ourselves in the mirror. The man is human, and humans can't compete forever. Here is Slater's Pipe Masters FP, Overall AHS and Overall FP since 2012:
His trend in each field is tumbling, and at an alarming rate. Note that Pipeline Fantasy Points doesn't include 2015 (as that's currently in the future, McFly), but the line isn't encouraging - especially given the other two charts as a model.
Take Slater if you want to, but the numbers say you're wrong; hey, we're as disappointed as you to see the evidence.
It's [yet again] Pipe Master's Eve, but this time the Wildcards have dropped and seeded. Wade Carmichael and Bruce Irons have been slated to replace Matt Banting (knee) and Freddy Patacchia, Jr. (retired). Seeds are confirmed as follows: W. Carmichael - 33rd / Jack Robinson - 34th / Jamie O'Brien - 35th / Bruce Irons - 36th.
LOCK: (This has been updated on the top of the page, but we've left the original below) - Seeds 34 and 36.
Previous: Tier C is absolutely harrowing right now and there is a cloud of doubt hanging above each and every contender. The Draw does not favor any of the current CT regulars, but not because they are facing the top ranked guys. The main problem we see is that they're not ranked low enough - the bottom four seeds will take on Mick Fanning, Filipe Toledo, Adriano de Souza and Gabriel Medina in their R1 Heats. This one is complicated; normally guys don't want to match up against the best, but the stats don't suggest a solid turnout for Fanning, de Souza or Toledo. We'll be checking the Draw and updating as much as possible, because whoever grabs the 33rd seed will face Medina - and that's the only one that won't be beneficial.
Gabriel Medina is, on paper, the biggest threat in the top four and we don't want either of our Tier C guys running that gauntlet. It might sound crazy, but the rest of the bottom might have it easier than the middle. Here's the seeded Tier C and who they'll battle in R1 (X = Extremely Unfavorable / - = Unfavorable / O = Neutral):
- Miguel Pupo vs. Josh Kerr / Joel Parkinson X
- C.J. Hobgood vs. Kelly Slater / Taj Burrow X
- Adam Melling vs. Bede Durbidge / Wiggolly Dantas -
- Brett Simpson vs. Nat Young / John John Florence X
- Jordy Smith vs. Jeremy Flores / Matt Wilkinson -
- Ricardo Christie vs. Julian Wilson / Kai Otton -
- Glenn Hall vs. Italo Ferreira / Ace Buchan -
- Dusty Payne vs. Owen Wright / Jadson Andre X
Here's the seeds and who they will face (now locked in):
- Wade Carmichael vs. Gabriel Medina / Keanu Asing X
- Jack Robinson vs. Adriano de Souza / Michel Bourez -
- Jamie O'Brien vs. Filipe Toledo / Kolohe Andino O
- Bruce Irons vs. Mick Fanning / Sebastian Zietz O
We know how insane it looks to have Bruce Irons set as neutral against Mick Fanning and Hawaiian local Sebastian Zietz, but Bruce has been surfing Pipeline his entire life. He even won the event in 2001 (over Kelly Slater), and while that may be ages ago, Fanning has never won here. This may seem to hinder on the seeds cooperating with our assumptions, but it literally doesn't matter. We recommend playing the matchup, whoever it is in the spot. Wildcards look like they may have an advantage this year.
This is the final event of the 2015 season and you're officially allowed to go for broke. There are no events around the corner and thus, no need to strategize any further that this - start making some fast cuts.
It doesn't matter what return value you're getting for Filipe Toledo, he's gone. Adriano de Souza? Tossed. You need to lighten your financial load to spend on those who can actually win the Pipe Masters, and these two bricks are only weighing you down. Just do it quick, like a band-aid, and here's why...
Adriano de Souza ($10.5M / 101 Proj FS Pts) - First, even if de Souza comes anywhere close to that projected line he would still be the third worst value behind Kolohe Andino and Brett Simpson. He probably won't even get that far, though. In all his years surfing Pipe competitively, Adriano has never advanced beyond R4; that's not something we feel comfortable spending over $10M for. Even if you bought de Souza at a lower price ($1 would be a ripoff right now), it's time to send him on his way.
Filipe Toledo ($8.75M / 127 Proj FS Pts) - Don't believe the hype about Toledo at Pipeline either. He's only made 1 QF and though he'll cost you less than Adriano de Souza, Filipe is still not a good bet. For less than his price you can have Nat Young, Jeremy Flores, or Italo Ferreira - Fil's also the same price as defending champ Julian Wilson. 1 QF won't justify this price tag, time to drop Toledo like it's hot.
Kelly Slater ($10M / 103 Proj FS Pts) - The one redeeming thing about Slater at this Pipe Masters will be a pseudo Heritage Heat between him, C.J. Hobgood and Taj Burrow. R1H9 will put 57 years of CT experience in the water at the same time and we can't wait to watch. But we'll also be paying our respects to a fading generation. Kelly is in a massive decline at the moment, and even though he won Pipe in 2013 - that was the last event he's won at all. This year marks the first time he's failed to reach a F as well and there is no way $10M is a good deal.
Gabriel Medina ($12.5M / 250 Proj FS Pts) OR Mick Fanning ($11.75M / 175 Proj FS Pts) - We're projecting Medina for the win and 250 big Fantasy Surfer points. If he pulls it off he'll be a decent value, even at his top price. If you have him for cheaper than that, you're in a good position to hold on. Did he take 2nd last year? He took 2nd last year.
Alternatively, if you have Mick fanning at less-than-market-value, hold onto him instead. We'd rather have Gabriel, but don't lose money on a swap - just grab a calculator and find out if it makes sense.
Owen Wright ($9.25M / 150 Proj FS Pts) OR Julian Wilson ($8.75M / 151 Proj FS Pts) - Just like Medina/Fanning, if you already have either one of these surfers - keep them around. Owen is always a threat in throaty frontside conditions while Julian won it last year. Neither one should have a disappointing result and with only $0.5M separating the two, you should have enough wiggle room to choose. We like Julian as a better surface value, but again, this will come down to who you already have on your squad and how much you paid for them.
Italo Ferreira ($7.75M / 126 Proj FS Pts) - Ferreira doesn't have the best points per dollar value, but we think he'll outproduce his projected line. He's been outstanding all year and in all conditions, so look for him to continue the trend at Pipe. He's agile, quick, energetic and fearless - all qualities that will earn big points in the critical North Shore break. Don't worry about the lack of data for Ferreira, he'll do just fine.
Jeremy Flores ($6M / 128 Proj FS Pts) - Flores, a former Pipe Master himself, is one of the best middle-tier values for Hawaii. He has come back strong this year since his head injury and is carrying a lot of momentum into the finale. Jeremy has fluctuated a bit and you probably haven't built a huge amount of value unless you grabbed him prior to TAH. Either way, at 2.13 Pts/$, he should be surfing for your team's swan song.
Sebastian Zietz ($4M / 80 Proj FS Pts) - Seabass, even though only projected for 80 FS Pts, would still hold equal value to Gabriel Medina if he hits the mark. He's been a disappointment for us this year and never connects when we give him an endorsement, but Zietz needs a big result if he wants to stay on the CT. There's a lot of speculation regarding the World Title its associated scenarios, but there's also an entire cutoff scenario list that will adjust a few 2016 careers. Sebastian is currently in 24th place, 2 spots outside the 22-man cutoff. 21 and 22 are held by Keanu Asing and Michel Bourez respectively, both with 18,750 current points. Zietz leads the charge of those looking to overtake that spot ahead of Adam Melling (25th - trails by 4,450), Brett Simpson (26th - trails by 4,450), Ricardo Christie (30th - trails by 7,000), and Glenn Hall (32nd - trails by 8,200). To take a spot from Asing or Bourez these blokes down in the junk will have their work cut out for them, but it may be a key motivating factor.
Jordy Smith ($4M / 79 Proj FS Pts) - Jordy Smith has missed 5 events this year and the last 4 straight. He's not in competitive form and did not impress at his comeback on the QS Vans Triple Crown events. Check out our Injury Hub for a more in-depth analysis of Smith's QS return.
Joel Parkinson ($8M / 100 Proj FS Pts) - Parko is in a serious decline and it's stronghold is alarming. We go into this in depth at our WSL section (see tabs above). Take a gander there and you'll come to the same conclusion we have regarding Joel's once dominant disposition.
Brett Simpson ($4.25M / 38 Proj FS Pts) - Brett's stats suggest he hates big waves (8.28 AHS in 8-10'+ swell). If not, he certainly has a funny way of showing it and either way, he has a career 4.53 AHS at Pipeline. That's not good for any budget.
Kolohe Andino ($5.75M / 45 Proj FS Pts) - There's nothing to suggest jumping on the Andino bandwagon will be beneficial at this point. He has the worst points per dollar value of the field and isn't a threat in the upcoming conditions.
The Heat Draw is updated, Wildcards are up at Fantasy Surfer now and we recommend Jamie O'Brien and Jack Robinson - the Pipe Invitational winners. O'Brien will face Toledo and Andino in R1, which we believe to be an easier matchup than Wade Carmichael's Heat vs. Medina and Keanu Asing. Bruce Irons will likely face Mick Fanning and Sebastian Zietz - while Fanning has never won at Pipe, Bruce won in 2001. Robinson, however, will face Adriano de Souza and Michel Bourez. If he surfs anything like he did today, we want him on our team. With these two at $1.5M each, you'll be freed up to get a dream squad - now go unleash the beast!