I say it every year, but how good is it to have the new season upon us?
In 2019, John John and Kelly have more questions than answers over their heads, Julian, Italo and Filipe are looking to break through for a maiden championship, rookies are looking for validation or glory, return surfers seeking retribution, and then there's Medina. There's always Medina.
The first event of the year provides similar hopes and dreams to fantasy players; fresh starts, retribution, growth and potential glory.
Our own fantasy game, FSS, is entering its rookie season after a few wildcard events last year. It's been putting in the hard yards in the off-season, working on its flaws, and aiming to best the big names on tour. If you haven't checked it out yet, then you really should; the very data which fills these columns has formed the foundation of the game. Key metrics are built into player and event profiles so that, at the click of a button, you can have your numbers at hand without having to jump around between screens or windows. I won't bang on about it, but it's truly a fantasy geek's wet dream.
It wouldn't be a Gold Coast event without a massive swell event prior to (and often after) the event window. In 2019, it was Oma; an extra-large cyclone swell that created incredible clips, jetski fines, and a massive hole where the superbank used to be.
The long, playful right-hand point that has made Coolangatta so famous may resemble more of a fat beach-break if the sand fails to materialise. This could lead to shorter rides and, depending on the surfer, a more progressive approach to the wave if there is no risk of 'blowing' another 100m of scoring ride with a failed hail-mary attempt.
And while Kirra's banks may offer a more 'Goldy-esque' set-up this year, the swell forecast looks a little small for the event to too run many heats there at this stage.
There have been steady whispers that have grown to an undeniable roar; DBah is a very likely option for at least the start, if not the entirety of the 2019 event.
Initially, we ran our metrics for the event to include conditions data for right-hand points in waves of the 1-6' range. We are now hurriedly working on a new set that includes beach breaks with left-right peaks.
Watch this space. It can be found below our original table.
Those wanting more detail of Snapper can check out the break breakdown here, or watch Bede Durbidge's GoPro overview here. Just don't expect too many heats out there and maybe you won't be disappointed.
The official forecast tells us that:
A contestable mix of swells will kick off the (trials) event on Tuesday. More trade swell-like surf continues through the back half of next week with the potential for mid-to-longer period swell later in the waiting period.
"Trade swell-like surf"!? Doesn't that just fill you with confidence? Hopefully that means that we'll get some "quality-like waves". You never know...
Surfers OUT :
Adriano de Souza - Adriano's knee injury, which he suffered in the shorebreak way back in Portugal, is apparently not yet ready for the rigors of the elite tour.
Tyler Wright - Tyler Wright has officially withdrawn from the first half of the tour, with the hope of returning for the J-Bay event. She is, by Stab's accounts, suffering from post-viral syndrome and chronic fatigue. We wish her a thorough and speedy recovery.
Silvana Lima - has withdrawn and been replaced in the draw, although I've yet to read the official reason.
Watch this space - both Ace Buchan and Leo Fioravanti are nursing injuries at this stage. Steph has also admitted that her toe was injured in a 'dropped guitar case' injury.
Kelly Slater - Kelly's in-and-out dalliance with the WSL tour is seemingly behind him, with the GOAT demonstrating his commitment to the tour by making a brief appearance at a lowly QS event at Manly last week. He looked good. For one heat, anyway.
Caio Ibelli - Caio was royally shafted by the (former) WSL commissioner at the end of last season when, despite missing 8 events due to an injury suffered in a Margies warm-up, KP failed to offer him a permanent wildcard spot for 2019. As a peace offering, they instead gave him the first injury replacement position. At this stage, it seems academic, as Caio will be replacing Adriano for this event. It has not been confirmed whether Caio has an ADS voodoo doll with him in Coolangatta.
Keeley Andrew - Tyler's loss is Keely's gain. She's been a finalist at Snapper in the past.
Sage Erickson - will replace Lima in the women's draw.
Wildcards - all wildcards have been added:
Reef Heazelwood blew up online after some massive punts at Rockies last year, only to be dropped by Billabong a few months later. He got a 3rd at the Volcome Pro, followed by a 9th at the Hang Loose in Brazil. He's 15th on the QS at the moment, and just won the QuikPro trials. I seriously hop he does well, as he's a great surfer who deserves a break.
Mateus Herdy is the reigning world junior champ, and has just been awarded his debut CT event via a sponsor wildcard here at the Gold Coast. Mateus is no stranger to the Tweed/Cooly stretch, and he has nothing to lose. I look forward to seeing what he has to bring to the event.
Isabella Nichols is currently leading the QS, after a 3rd and two big 2nd place finishes. The 21 year old is hitting form, and looks like a genuine threat to the CT elite.
Below are the final heat draws, with all replacements and wildcards added:
Slater has the best historical metrics for this event going back to the beginning of our historical data (2005), with a quarter-finals-or-better average. At the other end of the spectrum, Jack Freestone hasn't won a heat here in 3 attempts.
Part of the benefit to the integrated data within our new fantasy game is that I don't have to type it all up again here. Log in to FSS to access all event and surfer history from 2013-2019.
While there are many stats available on FSS, not everything fits neatly into the streamlined format. For that reason, I've added some more detailed data below. Sort through and take what's relevant to you:
Gold Coast Metrics 2019
|Surfer Name||Rank||Heat||Career win %||Career AHS||Point %||Point AHS||Right %||Right AHS||1-4' AHS||1-4' win %||4-6' AHS||4-6' win%||R1 win %||R1 AHS||GC Avg Place||GC Win %||GC AHS||GC Heats||GC Events||% QF>|
|John John Florence||5||12||64.63||14.82||58.21||14.62||63.16||15.16||14.02||57.41||14.53||62.77||68.52||14.3||14||50||13.53||18||7||28.6|
DBah Stats UpdateRank = surfer rating based on DBah metrics
Difference = ranking as compared to metrics at Snapper/Kirra
|Surfer Name||Rank||Difference||Career win %||Career AHS||Beach win %||Beach AHS||L/R %||L/R AHS||1-4' AHS||1-4' win %||4-6' AHS||4-6' win%||R1 Heats 2013-18||R1 win % 2013-18||R1 AHS 2013-18||GC Avg Place||GC Win %||GC AHS||GC Heats||GC Events||% QF>|
|John John Florence||3||2||64.63||14.82||65.75||14.19||66.36||14.34||14.02||57.41||14.53||62.77||54||68.52||14.3||14||50||13.53||18||7||28.6|
Medina - The reigning world champ may have a reputation for 'starting the season slow', but he's our stats favourite for this event. He is at the pointy end of every relevant data category for this event.
Toledo - Had his first ever event win here 4 years ago, and has looked dangerous ever since. Great in rights, small waves and especially points.
Kelly - even if you only take data from the past 6 years (and discount his long-term domination at the event), Kelly is a statistically strong choice for Snapper. If he's 100%, then he'll be a 'safe' bet.
Julian - Last year's winner, as well as the top win % in rights.
Jordy - surprisingly dominant in small stuff, great win % in points
Jaddy - have you been taking note of the QS? This kid's on fire! DBah will suit him down to the ground.
Christie - Ricardo is an easy target; a relatively low seed with a one-and-done record on tour, but he ranks quite lowly across most relevant data fields for this event.
Freestone - he was the biggest name to come out of the cyclone Oma swell a few weeks ago, but Jack's record on the Gold Coast is not quite as stellar with a jersey; he's surfed 3 events, for 6 heats and 0 wins. Ouch.
Fioravanti - Leo's injury recovery will apparently be fine for his return to tour, but he'll likely be surfing at less than 100%. This doesn't bode well for breaking his winless record across two events here.
Mendes - with low AHS and win % stats across points, rights, and 1-4' waves, Jesse makes it hard to pitch for an improvement beyond his 25th place last year.
Here's the thing about data-driven fantasy selections: they almost always guarantee you a safe, bankable score. What they don't earn you is a winning score, a score that takes risks with an against-the odds darkhorse-come-good. For that, you need to back yourself with a solid sleeper pick. Here are my non-data-based suggestions:
High End - I'm not sure how much heat Gabriel and Julian will take off Italo, but his number of selections will surely be lower against the reigning world and event champs respectively. Italo has looked so spicy in the off-season, you'll need to have some cold milk handy.
Mid Range - I told Gerr today that Peterson Crisanto was my dark horse for this event, and I'm sticking to it. Seth could be the other if it's at DBah.
Low - Maybe it's the patriotism talking, but Solomon Storm Bailey seems like he's ready for a massive year. Maybe not at here, but he's got something big in him; mark my words (sorry in advance, Soli).
There's always a few surfers who represent some kind of anomaly within our selection analyses. Maybe there are factors that a spreadsheet can’t detect, or maybe their recent form simply contradicts their previous averages.
DBah - What's a snapper event without the typical sand-bottom points? It looks like we're about to find out, and I hope your team is ready.
Adrian Buchan- Ace is still recovering from a knee injury. He's looked OK in recent videos, but he's pretty untested at this point. Be wary.
Leonardo Fioravanti- remember last year when Julian, a) blew out his sholder a few weeks before the event, and b) wen't on to win Snapper and be a serious title threat. Well, Leonardo has managed the former. Whether he can do the latter is up to you...
Mikey Wright - Little did I know, but Mikey was suffering from a lower-back injury for a big part of last season. He seemed to win plenty of heats anyway, so who knows what he'll do this year.
Macy Callaghan - everyone I've spoken to lately has said how good Macy has been looking. It's hardly a stat, but it's what I've heard.
Steph Gilmore - with an injured hoof (she's a GOAT too, right?), and Snapper taken away as the primary venue, some of Steph's untouchable nature leeches away.
Fantasy Surf Sessions
Thank you to everyone who has signed up, played or given us feedback.
We are super proud of our fantasy game, and we honestly think that the new version of FSS offers things that have long been missing or neglected from the surf fantasy platform.
Our next round of improvements will be aimed at allowing clubs and chat, as well as developing our women's game.
As always, feel free to give us feedback or suggestions on how to improve the game, and don't be shy in sharing/recommending us; in this digital age, engagement means everything, and more players means more prizes and support for our grass-roots partners.
Thanks again for being a part of the surf-stats/FSS family, and good luck with your fantasy teams.