The post-France-pre-Portugal window is always pretty tight and the deadline is looming, so we’ll cut the fluff and jump straight in (although the WSL has decided to write up a nice little pre-amble, if you’re into that sort of thing):
France and Portugal offer pretty similar conditions parameters, so the modelling will be fairly similar except for the factors that take in surfers’ history at this particular event. Our projections for this event have taken in various wave heights, beachbreaks and left/right breaks that offer waves in both directions. The contest forecast is up, and it looks like we’ll see clean, offshore and somewhat lully waves for the first two days. The tide shifts may be a factor, and we still suggest suggest surfers with patience, versatility and an ability to read the conditions well (as does our interviewee Aritz Aranburu).
As far as a history of success goes, we’ve got 2 tables offering snapshots of surfers’ competition histories over the past 5 years. Check them out and see if your assumptions about the surfers on your team have any basis in reality.
Based on the forecast, the break features and the surfers’ past results at this event, here are our nominations for strong ‘conditions’ surfers for this event:
John John Florence
John won Brazil and got 3rd at France – the two events with conditions most similar to the Portugal event. He also ranks well in event AHS, EAT, Beachbreaks and 4-6’ conditions.
Apart from the final, Gabs was clinical in France. Stats-wise, he ranks in the top 3 surfers for all wave heights from 1-8’, Beachbreaks and waves offering both left/right options. It’s hard to look beyond Gabs here.
Holy Toledo was the surfer of the contest before his narrow loss to JJF in the beachbreaks of France, and he is putting up some good numbers for Portugal: He has the best EAT and best AHS in left/right conditions and waves 1-4’ for the past 3 seasons. He is also top 5 in beachies and event AHS.
Italo was a stand-out here last year, with an AHS of 15.17 and some serious scalps (including Medina twice) on route to a classic final against event winner Toledo.
If you get the time, check out some heats on demand via the 2015 event page; it’s fair to say that Frederico was surfing well. He had an event AHS of 14.47 and made it all the way to the quarters, losing by .08 of a point to a fired-up Brett Simpson. Before that he had managed to beat Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Adriano de Souza, Kolohe Andino and Nat Young. Impressive, no? All of this in similar conditions at the same break…
Ace is coming of a 5-year event history of 25, 9, 25, 25, 25 for this event. He has the lowest event AHS and the lowest AHS for 1-4’ conditions.
Wilko’s results here aren’t great. In his defence though, he does have the highest event AHS over the past two years, which is actually impressive.
We can see why he’s considering a no-show for this event; he has the 3rd lowest AHS for beachies and he hasn’t made it past the 3rd round since 2011.
They say that form is temporary and class is permanent, but we can’t rate surfers by class, can we?
John John John Florence / Gabe Medina
Both surfers have finished in the quarters or higher 5 times in the past 6 events. They are neck-and-neck in just about everything lately, and their season AHS is only 0.14 apart (JJF leading). We dare you to name two ‘classier’ surfers in the second half of this season.
Filipe is only as low as 7th because of his early season injury. He looked great at 3 of the past 4 events (Jbay, Trestles, France – not Tahiti) and should continue his dominance above the lip in Portugal.
Hell yeah! Keanu is probably still wearing his contest singlet from France, and why the hell not? If he isn’t fired up for some reeling left-hand beachies then I don’t know who is.
Kolohe has been climbing the rankings lately, sitting in 5th place after France. He looks 100% improved from the past few seasons and we like his chances to continue his purple patch.
This is actually unfair; on paper Rhino has had some pretty poor results, but look closer and he is actually surfing well; he has a decent AHS even when he loses. Part of it is the seeding curse, part of it is bad luck. Are you willing to roll the dice on a break-out result?
JFlo looks the goods to requalify via the QS, which is just as well as his results have been heading south all year (and we don’t mean to Portugal from France).
Could this be Melling’s penultimate WSL event? He is coming into this event without a solid QS back-up and a run of mediocre results. His form doesn't impress.
While much less important when compared to conditions and form, the draw should still be a partial consideration. Having 3 surfers in a R1 heat, or even 2 surfers facing off in R2, is only going to increase your R2 deathmatch ratios. If you want to play around with heat win and R2 possibilities, we recommend wslbracket.com as a fun way of predicting possible result match-ups. Be aware though that a single change from your projections can alter the following round entirely.
Our R1 “heat of death” nomination for this contest is H5 Medina/Coffin/Morais
We like to offer a few suggestions that may not be on everyone’s radar. Any success that involves deviating from the popular vote will provide a huge advantage for players willing to take the risk. Since the % owned feature from the WSL and FS games are invisible until lock-out, we are simply predicting who we think will be low in the popularity stakes.
There are no real dark horses left in the top 8, with all surfers performing well at different times throughout the year. Anyone other than John/Gabe will be a pick that defies the odds, but if we were to name a name, we’d suggest Filipe (although he will probably still get more than 20% of selections).
Nat Young has been underperforming this year and is probably off the radar for most. He finished 2nd here in 2013 though, and 9th last year. He could surprise a few…
Kai delivered in spades for us last event, with a break-out result for this season. He won here in 2013 and got 3rd in 2014. His renewed confidence could see another solid result.
Here are our “numbers” teams: a selection overview based purely on our projections. If you really want to see/beat our non-numbers team, join the clubhouse (it’s not that hard – in both cases).
WSL numbers team
All 3 surfers in H5 is a worry, but there is a lot of potential in this team. Ryan makes the cut again. Conner too.
Fantasy Surfer numbers team
Ryan is just loved by our projections it seems. Filipe gets a spot here and we like this team a little more than the WSL group.
For each event in 2016, we will produce a list of ‘outliers’ that represent some kind of anomaly within our selection analyses. Maybe there are factors that a spreadsheet can’t detect, maybe all of the numbers point a god-awful result at this event, or maybe their recent form simply contradicts their previous averages.
Here are our outliers for France:
They were brutal last year, with Vasco and Frederico making serious changes to the title race on their way to the finals.
Has suggested he may not compete. If this happens, expect changes to the draw.
As mentioned in our injury update, Keanu’s Twitter account showed the QuikProFrance champ with crutches and foot-bandages after a nasty fin chop. We’re not sure how this will impact his ability to surf in Portugal.
*Keanu replied to us on Twitter and confirmed he'll be fine to compete.
Both are still expectant fathers, and childbirth doesn't care much for contest schedules. Be wary.
Now that you know the team break-downs, it’s time for you to create a team that will hold our selections to account. Sign up to our WSL Surf-Stats group (password - SS) or the Fantasy Surfer Surf-Stats clubhouse (password – SS) and challenge yourself against us and our readers. We will give a shout-out to each winner and analyse their team.
As always, feel free to comment or leave your own team selections below.