There is no shortage of drama and action heading into this year's Billabong Pipe Masters. They'll be naming the Wildcards prior to the event on opening day, there's roughly 7 million World Title scenarios that can unfold, we're still stoked over the Pe'ahi Challenge ...oh, and someone will be crowned the 2015 Pipe Masters Champion.
There's no need for any further analysis of the Title scenarios, Google will autocomplete your search query and you can digress ad nauseam. Each of the six athletes vying for the Championship will be back in 2016, so in terms of drama and life-affecting outcomes, the scenarios for the 2016 CT cutoff are equally important. Surfers near the 22 mark will compete to make or break their future, while the fate of others rests in the hands of their own competition.
In For Now
Michel Bourez is 22. Patient 0. And a slight nose ahead (by merely 50 points) sits Keanu Asing at 21. What these two surfers do - or do not - will greatly impact next year's roster if those trailing can capitalize.
In all scenarios and with both low events dropped, Kolohe Andino needs only to finish 1 position ahead of Bourez or Asing to requalify on the CT. The interesting part in that situation is that he's already qualified via top 10 QS. If Andino were to double-qualify, it would assign his spot to the next in QS line, Stuart Kennedy.
Sebastian Zietz needs a bit more than Kolohe. Trailing Bourez by 3,200 points, Zietz will need to finish 2 places ahead of Bourez or Asing to overtake in all scenarios except Bourez/Asing placing 5th. In that case, Zietz will need first place and if Bourez makes the Finals, Seabass will hope that Asing didn't fare as well.
Miguel Pupo has a chance at making the 2016 CT, and that chance is (for you probability majors): 1. He's locked in on the QS top 10 just like Kolohe Andino, which presents another interesting scenario: Should Andino and Pupo both double-qualify (yes, a double double-qualification), then Stuart Kennedy and the next in line would fill the openings. In this case, that's Dusty Payne.
If only Pupo breaches the CT top 22, then only Stuart Kennedy makes the Tour. Dusty Payne needs all or nothing, both Kolohe and Miguel to beat out Bourez and Asing. I hope Dusty has some lucky underpants because it won't be easy; even if Michel or Keanu drop in R2 to finish 25th, Pupo will need a 9th (R5) to take Bourez and (thanks to that pesky 50 points) 5th (QF) to take Keanu. This is also assuming that Andino and/or Zietz have not placed more than one spot better.
It's a lot huh? This is going to be interesting to see unfold as the scenario possibilities eclipse that of the World Title. There are a lot of moving pieces to this puzzle, none of which may be moving more than Stu Kennedy and Dusty Payne's calculators; they've worked so hard and are so close to next year's Big Show. Look for them cheering on Kolohe Andino and Miguel Pupo from the beach (or in the lineup - Dusty Payne takes on CT #20 Jadson Andre in R1 and will look to put him in R2. Any help Andino/Pupo can get, right?).
Too much drama at this Pipe Masters! Catch us in the comments with your thoughts/predictions/who deserves it!