He’s done it; Matty Wilko has popped his WSL cherry and gotten to home base with a tour event, the dirty minx.
We couldn’t be happier for him.
Wilko, who has until recently been best known for rollerblades, novelty wetsuits, good times and unfulfilled potential, gave us a glimpse of what we can possibly expect when he takes the tour seriously; smart heat tactics, sustained focus and blistering surfing. Matt’s hit list at the QuikPro included Filipe, Slater, Taj and ADS. We can’t wait to see him at Bells.
While we are giving shout-outs, let’s not forget the influence of Glenn Hall. The former WSL surfer has given birth to a new meaning for the term ‘micro-management’ and, as the coach of both Tyler Wright AND Wilko, he’s placed pretty damn highly amongst the pro surfing community right now. Micro obviously knows how to surf a heat and he seems to know how to get the most out of a surfer’s ability. It makes you wonder what a threat he himself could have been on tour if the surfing gods had just given him just a little more new-school flair within his own professional game.
And how about Mr. Stu Kennedy? He tore snapper to shreds on the way to a very respectable 3rd place, leaving surfers such as Slater, Medina, and John John in his wake. Stu is guaranteed a few more events through injury replacements as well, so we’ll get to see plenty more of him this season. Slater must be laughing all the way to the bank after the publicity Stu’s success has brought his Sci-Phi design. I wonder what they’ll both ride at Bells?
Just a few notes on Bells: in case you haven’t heard, Filipe is definitely out through injury and will miss the Margaret River contest as well. Bede is definitely out and Owen is virtually guaranteed (but not confirmed). The seeding for surfers will be crazy after this event, with some interesting match-ups already evident in the draw below:
The first event of the year brings the first fantasy winners. Let’s start with the best possible team:
This team, with a score of 784.27, would have been put together at the start of this event by either a genius or a madman. It was unconventional in places, with Kennedy, Ace and Wilko scoring well above their previous scores and projections. Others such as ADS, JJF, Joel and Toledo were all probably quite safe selections. Many were burnt by Slater, Julian, Mick, Jordy and Gabe, including myself.
Congratulations go to Foots Picks for taking out the top spot in the WSL fantasy game with a score of 704.67. ‘Foot’ had every top surfer except Kennedy, whom he replaced with Banting.
Similar kudos goes out to PinkFanning, who romped home in the Fantasy Surfer game with a score of 1117. His team (below) was very close to the best possible, with a Mick/ADS and Italo/Joel swap being all that held him back.
The Surfstats WSL group is currently being led by 40yr Old Grommie, while the FS club is owned by Christobal13. They set a pretty high standard for event 1, with scores of 543.21 and 941 respectively. Feel free to join either the WSL or Fantasy Surfer clubs (password: ss) and challenge them for the title.
The Fantasy Losers
Here are the WSL fantasy surfers who burnt us with their mediocrity:
Kelly, Jordy, Julian and Pupo were particularly disappointing. Total score: 199.76.
For Fantasy Surfer, Keanu Asing, Matt Banting, Jordy Smith, Julian Wilson, Wade Carmichael, Adam Melling, Jack Freestone and Miguel Pupo would have earned you the lowest possible score of 316, all for the princely sum of $34.5M. Given that Wilko and Kolohe combined for 375 points at only $9M total, it makes those 8 seem pretty damn awful.
Surf-Stats projections analysis
The numbers teams outperformed the standard Surf-Stats teams across both games, with the FS difference being particularly noticeable:
The projections were pretty good for ADS and John John, and we suggested Filipe for the conditions, Wilko for form, and warned against Pupo for form as well. We were, however, way off for Slater, Taj and Mick (they defied their previous results) and we grossly underestimated Kolohe, Ace and Seabass. There was enough advice to select a good team, we just ignored it and followed the wrong intuitions (such as ignoring the poor projections for both Banting and Freestone).
In the WSL group, the numbers team is 9th and the Surf-Stats team is 21st out of a possible 23 places (yeah, we know). In the Fantasy Surfer group, the numbers team is 4th and the Surf-Stats team is 6th out of a possible 7 places. It’s a poor start, but why don’t you rub it in further by joining up and beating us some more?
In light of the recent WSL award at the Gold Coast, we have decided to present our own awards at the end of each event. These winners will go into the draw to claim the overall SS awards at the end of the year:
Biggest single manoeuvre
Stu Kennedy’s club sandwich against Slater in R2. You could hear it in the commentator’s voices: that manoeuvre was massive. Not just the surfing itself, but the consequences of it being pulled. It was the simultaneously the nail in Slater’s coffin while also the echo of thousands of fans saying “Wait, who IS this guy? He’s ripping!”
Toledo’s 10 can’t be denied in this category. It had flair, big turns, variety and style throughout. If Snapper’s not barrelling, then that’s how you surf it.
R3, H12 - Stu Kennedy 16.80 vs. Gabriel Medina 16.53. With an average wave score of 8.33, this was the highest scoring heat of the contest. It was all down to solid surfing too; no new-school acrobatics or all-or-nothing one-manoeuvre waves. Both surfers were on fire, but it was Stu’s David that slayed the Medina Goliath on this occasion.
Kelly was a shock. Mick too. And Julian. Gabe as well. Actually, most of the top 10 didn’t really show up. Anyone hoping for Jordy to start the year on a high were sorely disappointed and those of us who pinned our hopes on Taj were also hurting. Maybe it was fantasy surfing scores in general that were the biggest disappointment at this contest? The surfing was still electric; it was just being performed by a bunch of new guys.
Stu Kennedy. While most would have been forgiven for asking “Stu who?” a few weeks ago, his impact on the event (and possibly the title race) can’t be denied. It wasn’t through luck either; Kennedy surfed very well throughout and earned every win.
That’s it for the Goldy. It was a roller-coaster ride, and it certainly humbled a few seasoned fantasy players, but it was a great event with high-quality performances. It also sets up an intriguing 2016 season.
We'll be back in a few days with some numbers for Bells.