J-Bay Open

Reality Check: A Finals Shakeup

James Royce

J-Bay's Harrowing Finale
See the real-time replay of Mick Fanning's shark encounter during the J-Bay Final.

By now the world knows what happened in the Final heat at the J-Bay Open, the sixth stop on the men's Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour. Because of the shark encounter, no Fantasy points were awarded for the Final between Mick Fanning (AUS) and Julian Wilson (AUS). Despite the inconclusive finale, if there's one takeaway from J-Bay Fantasy, it's that experience rules.

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Once again, Ross Williams' Start 'Em, Sit 'Em was an insider's guide of gold: Every single one of his starts made it either to Round 3 or beyond. Wilson, his Tier A choice, made it all the way to the Finals, and even scored a 20-point bonus along the way for Round 1 victory that let him skip Round 2.

Wilson Flexes J-Bay Muscle
Wilson scored big in Round 5, earning a 9.17 single-wave score by showing off his progressive style.

But it was veteran experience and forehand surfing that ultimately dominated at J-Bay's Supertubes. Tour veteran Fanning won the event last year, and was once again dominant on his path to the Final in 2015. In terms of individual performances, it was Kelly Slater (USA) -- the most veteran of them all -- who stood out with this wave for 9.43 points, this 9.00 and this wave for 9.10, among other stellar moments before Fanning ousted him in the Semifinals.

Although Slater hasn't had the most stellar of seasons so far in 2015, his results at J-Bay helped. He started the event in Fantasy Tier B, but achieved his best result yet this season. His Semifinal finish shot him up the Jeep Leaderboard and back into Tier A.

Slater in Sync at Supertubes
A fired-up Slater scored big points during his J-Bay Quarterfinal against Gabriel Medina.

Still, it was Tier C's Adrian Buchan (AUS) who became the talk of Fantasy Surfing. Started by only 13 percent of team managers, the goofyfooter doubled down on 20-point bonuses with victories in Rounds 1 and 4. Buchan picked up double-digit score totals in every heat he surfer before Wilson eliminated him in the Semifinals.

Buchan Bears Down on J-Bay
Buchan made a statement with his aggressive vertical hacks -- and racked up some solid points.

Goofyfooters were a continuous source of surprise for Fantasy teams at J-Bay, which features righthand waves. Gabriel Medina (BRA) (started by 54 percent of Fantasy players) and Kai Otton (AUS) (started by just one percent) arrived in South Africa in Tier B. Both surfers, however, went on tears all the way to the Quarterfinals, scoring big numbers in most of their heats.

Alejo Muniz (BRA) turned heads as well. Surfing J-Bay as an injury replacement for Jeremy Flores (FRA), the Brazilian was started by only two percent of Fantasy teams. Yet, Muniz dropped double-digit total scores in Rounds 1 through 4, eliminating World No. 2 Filipe Toledo (BRA) and picking up a 20-point bonus -- all before Fanning defeated him in the Quarterfinals.

Muniz Scores Big in Round 3 Victory
In a huge Round 3 upset, Alejo Muniz ousted World No. 2 Filipe Toledo after earning a 9.80 for his aggressive lip attack.

The importance of experience at J-Bay was also evident in the rundown of the event's top 10 points-earners. Of that elite group, Keanu Asing (HAW) was the only rookie to finish among them -- and he was started by only four percent of Fantasy players. With the season now past the halfway mark, pressure is building and the veteran mindset (read: hungry wolves) could be a key factor when choosing Fantasy lineups for the rest of the year.

*The Top 34 will compete next in the tropical waters of Tahiti starting at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. The contest is the seventh stop on the Men' Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour this year. Watch the broadcast LIVE here and on the WSL App starting Friday, August 14 local time - August 25.