The Oi Rio Pro was quite the dark horse event for Fantasy Surfing. Aside from Filipe Toledo (BRA), whose consistent and confident performances had him started by 47 percent of team managers, most of the contest's top eight performers were started by fewer than 10 percent of Fantasy teams.
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Bede Durbidge (AUS) was the second-highest point-earner overall, but he was started by only 3 percent of Fantasy teams. In spite of his height (6'1, 183cm), Durbidge has excelled in the smaller conditions on this year's CT stops. He adds his second-place finish in Rio to a fifth-place finish on the Gold Coast. His success in Brazil launched him 11 spots up the Jeep rankings.)
Overall, the rookies were on fire. Ricardo Christie (NZL) (7 percent) and Italo Ferreira (BRA) (6 percent start) had their best finishes yet, a Quarterfinal and Semifinal finish respectively. Christie took down previous event winners Jordy Smith (ZAF) and Jeep leader Adriano de Souza (BRA).
And they weren't the only rookies wreaking havoc on the rankings and Fantasy. Matt Banting also had a standout performance, finishing equal 9th and ahead of John John Florence (HAW) in Fantasy points. Hawaiian rookie Keanu Asing took down former World Champ Joel Parkinson and reigning World Champ Gabriel Medina before being eliminated in Round 5. It's his best result so far this season. Banting, Christie and Asing have all jumped from Tier C to Tier B after their performances in Rio.
It's worth noting that of the top 10 event finishers, six had competed in at least one Qualifying Series event prior to the Oi Rio Pro. Surfers doing double time on the QS and CT have their work cut out for them, traveling heavily between events. While this can sometimes be a disadvantage, it can also help them keep the competitive mindset alive between CT stops, as was clearly the case in Rio.
The Oi Rio Women's Pro saw a healthy dose of consistency among the elite 17: All three of the Tier A surfers made it at least as far as the Semifinals and Courtney Conlogue (USA) won the event. Tier B's Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), however, was a serious dark horse pick. She was the Oi Rio Women's Pro runner-up and second-highest point-earner. And yet, only three percent of teams started her in their Tier B picks.
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) continues to trend as a fan favorite, selected by 72 percent of teams. She also continues to be a solid point-earner, along with Hawaiian rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb (16 percent start). Both women were defeated in Round 4, but outscored Coco Ho (HAW), who surfed all the way to the Quarterfinals.
The most shocking performance of the women's event came from twenty-year-old injury replacement Keely Andrew. After a Round 1 win, Andrew went as far as the Quarterfinals in her second CT event ever. If Gilmore's injury continues to keep her out of event, you might consider Andrew as a serious dark horse contender for Tier C.
The Fiji Women's Pro runs May 31 - June 5 and the men's Fiji Pro runs June 7 - June 19, 2015. Don't forget to set your Fantasy Surfing lineups before Round 1 hits the water so you can maximize your scoreline. Be sure to tune in here and on the WSL App to watch the events unfold live.