Michael Rodrigues entered the 2018 Championship Tour one of the most overlooked rookies in ages, but he likely won’t be for long. While his fellow Brazilians Jesse Mendes and Yago Dora stole much of the spotlight in 2017, and QS journeymen Tomas Hermes and Willian Cardoso attracted the sentimental storylines, Rodrigues plugged away outside the limelight, sneaking into the mix by finishing quietly at No. 12 on the Qualifying Series. He cut his teeth in Fortaleza, in the state of Ceará, a beachside metropolis located along the tropical northeast coast of Brazil. It’s hardly a surfing hotbed because if its unfavorable wind conditions, but it was enough of a training ground for him to win some amateur titles and craft an explosive aerial game. His above-the-lip moves combined with his power-based carving was well hidden until 2014. After a win at the Oceano Santa Catarina Pro14, he nabbed a ninth at the 2015 Oakley Lowers Pro. In the aftermath, …Lost Surfboards shaper/owner Matt Biolos, not a person known for spewing unsubstantiated hyperbole, stated that the young Brazilian was the best surfer on the QS. Biolos and fellow …lost team rider Griffin Colapinto have since given him the nickname “M-Rod.” Back at home Rodrigues is now based in surf-rich Florianopolis, located in Brazil's southern state of Santa Caterina, and he credits hard work, laser-like focus and a strong faith in God for his good fortune in 2017. In just his third-full year on the Qualifying Series, he made back-to-back Finals at events in Spain and Portugal. The unsung rookie is now poised to be the biggest hidden threat of the 2018. Consider yourself warned.