Heading into one of the most entertaining stops of the year, you may find yourself wondering – is my fantasy surfer lineup ready? That’s a good question, considering the tour effuses with mega talent from all points of the globe.
But is talent alone enough? Who’ll wear their heart on their sleeve and go tube hunting on a squirrelly, shallowish left at the heart-shaped island known as Tavarua?
To narrow the selection, let’s first take a look at past performances and upcoming matchups.
Most Wins At Cloudbreak
Clearly, Slater knows the place. Past winners can be a good indication, but with Slater’s bad back and distractions, will he deliver? (*he also skipped Rio, so maybe a little R&R is exactly what the doctor order). That said, Owen Wright was so dominant in 2015, posting 4x10’s, that he’s a must start.
Kelly Slater x4
Gabriel Medina x2
Owen Wright x1
Tough Heats To Predict
Things get messy when colossal matchups happen in the first round. You'll likely only want to pick one guy from each of these heats. Unless, you believe they can make it through Round 2, as well. (see, that’s where things get tricky)
Who’s Heating Up This Year?
It's always good to consider rising stars.
John John Florence
Adriano De Souza
Good Bang For The Buck
Surfers who are trading for low $, but have performed well in the past. There’s something to be said for a good deal.
Surfers Familiar with South Pacific Power / Surfers Who Like Going Left
There are certain surfers who like power, serious power (they were born into it!) It all depends on where they grew up and where they’ve spent time surfing. Hawaii also delivers a similar jolt. Australia is much closer to Fiji, therefore Aussie surfers have a chance to visit more often.
Also, in the past two years, we’ve seen more goofy footed surfers in the quarterfinals. That’s indicative of things to come, as the performance becomes more critical, facing the wave can have its advantages.
John John Florence
Past Quarterfinals Results at Cloudbreak
2016 – Quarterfinals
Gabriel Medina**, Matt Wilkinson*, Kelly Slater, Adrian Buchan, Adriano de Souza, Wiggolly Dantas, Mick Fanning, John John Florence,
2015 – Quarterfinals
Owen Wright**, Julian Wilson*, Taj Burrow, Jeremy Flores, Wiggolly Dantas, Italo Ferreira, Joel Parkinson, Kai Otton
2014 – Quarterfinals
Gabriel Medina**, Nat Young*, Michel Bourez, Kolohe Andino, Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater, John John Florence, Adriano d Souza
2013 – Quarterfinals
Kelly Slater**, Mick Fanning*, John John Florence, CJ Hobgood, Jordy Smith, Sebastian Zietz, Josh Kerr, Joel Parkinson
2012 - Quarterfinals
Kelly Slater**, Gabriel Medina*, Mick Fanning, CJ Hobgood, John John Florence, Taj Burrow, Julian Wilson, Adriano De Souza
Italo Is Back
A giant question mark looms over Italo's head after hurting a ligament in his right ankle in March. Ankle injuries are a big deal in surfing, but then again, he could be 100% and would surely be worth more than his current value.
Is Bino Lopes in? Will it matter?
Caio Ibell is officially named out for Fiji and Bino Lopes will take his spot. Not sure if that affects anything.
Will Julian Wilson break out?
It’s the question that’s on everyone’s minds, when will this kid blow up on tour? As the runner-up in 2015, you could even argue he’s a no-brainer pick. But as one of the most volatile surfers on tour, he’s a risk at most stops. But with the right power and wave, Fiji is one of his safer bets.
Looks good with overhead to double overhead waves on the first two days. Competition will begin 8pm on Saturday, June 3rd EST.
All Said And Done
Even after you narrow down your squad of elite surfers, a ton of potential lineups still exist. It’s true. Too many guys on tour this year rip; it's a good problem. Someone could unexpectedly break out at any moment.That’s part of why playing is so fun.
By Ross Cauvel