FANTASY: Ross Williams and The Machine

Mick Fanning (AUS) with the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach trophy. Mick Fanning is hoping to grab a record fifth Bells this year. - WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

If you read Money Ball (or saw the movie) you're up to speed on one of the most controversial debates in sports. But just in case you didn't here's a one-line summary: computers are rendering baseball coaches insignificant, because machines, void of emotion, do a better job identifying players that belong on the starting roster.

In Baseball the data gathered on players is deep and extensive, so the impacts have been dramatic. The more data points there are to consider the more reliably a computer can predict outcomes, at least right up until everyone is using the same data, and acting on it. Therein lies the challenge of Fantasy sports. When do we trust the machine? And how should we weight it against the opinion of authoritative opinions wrapped in emotion?

Joel Parkinson (AUS) full rotation in Round 3. Joel Parkinson would have been a great pick at Snapper, and the machine likes him at Bells too. - WSL

To that end, we're providing WSL Fantasy Players both. Our WSL stats guru Michael Jordan is always plugging in new data, and letting us know what The Machine (his computer program) is predicting. Meanwhile, former CT surfer turned WSL commentator Ross Williams, who's on the ground at events, watching every heat, is weighing in with his opinions.

On the Gold Coast all sides were demolished. Neither predicted Stuart Kennedy's incredible impact, let alone Sebastian Zietz, which is what makes surfing unpredictable and fun. Had you picked the following team at Snapper you would have beat everyone:

Kelly Slater (USA) throws an air in Round 3. Slater's four Bells victories match him with Fanning and Mark Richards for the most on the Men's side. - WSL

Filipe Toledo - 109.18 FP (15.15 AHS / 44.83%) Adriano de Souza - 83.46 FP (13.91 AHS / 14.94%) Matt Wilkinson - 118.7 FP (14.22 AHS / 13.92%) Joel Parkinson - 88.33 FP (14.55 AHS / 55.91%) John John Florence - 87.39 FP (13.94 AHS / 82.28%) Adrian Buchan - 77.95 FP (12.99 AHS / 5.15%) Kolohe Andino - 117.53 FP (14.37 AHS / 44.19%) Stuart Kennedy - 101.73 FP (14.53 AHS / 3.42%)

*Note: Only 3.42% of WSL Fantasy Surfing Players owned Stu Kennedy at Snapper.

So what's the computer saying for Bells? Well, one benefit of the Gold Coast massacre is who is suddenly available in each tier. The computer's picks look pretty compelling, with the following being the ideal surfers and their projected points:

Kelly Slater (USA) winning in Round 3 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Kelly Slater is a Tier B option at Bells. Worth the risk? - WSL

Tier A: Joel Parkinson, 113.92; John John Florence, 99.54 Tier B: Mick Fanning, 116; Kelly Slater, 98.49; Julian Wilson, 79.50.45; Italo Ferreira, 76.44. Tier C: Jordy Smith, 82.56; Davey Cathels, 36.54.

Ross Williams agrees with the bulk of The Machine's picks, but is straying in the following areas.

Adriano de Souza wins his Semifinal heat against Josh Kerr. Adriano de Souza is too dependable for Williams to pass on at Bells. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

Tier A: Adriano de Souza over of Joel Parkinson "He's so damn consistent and smart in heats, making him a trusty point earner no matter what kind of conditions Bells throws at him. He has a very clean and timely bottom turn which allows him to navigate and optimize the deceptive sections that seem to catch most off guard. Watch ADS's rail work at bells and you will see a true black belt in surfing."

Gabriel Medina (BRA) took down Kelly Slater in Round 5. Gabe Medina will be looking to bounce back at Bells after an early exit at Snapper. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

Tier B: Gabriel Medina over Kelly Slater "Gabby also has great instincts and pace for this wave. He's very comfortable on his rail or mixing it up with the cool kids above the lip. I really like his chances if the comp stays at the bowl. If it moves to Winki his chances dip a little as the regular footers light up that wave. What's pretty rad is that Medina has become one of the real power houses of the tour, which Bells showcases perfectly."

Mick Fanning (AUS) attacks the lip in Round 4. Mick Fanning will be taking his first break in 15 years after Bells, and regardless of how he finishes it'll be well deserved. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

As for the picks they agree on, Ross has this to say:

John John Florence "Based on the pack of hooligans in this tier after the massacre on the Goldie, John John is an easy pick for me. I realize he has a less than stellar record at Bells but you cant deny the fact that he can win the event with his eyes closed if he puts it all together. His carves are epic, his airs and tails wafts are ridiculous. Im backing my smart pick in ADS with a little passion here. If he loses in the 3rd round I'll be so mad! Come on JJ, do your thing."

JJF John John Florence has title hopes on his mind, and has no problem admitting it. - WSL

Mick Fanning "Despite the fog of taking a breather this year, Mick is a favorite to win this event. He's smooth, fast, powerful and constantly clutch under pressure. He loves the tricky, cold conditions at Bells so much that it shows in his surfing during this event. Mick's a no brainer here but honestly I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't obtain the highest percentage in starts from players."

Julian Wilson "Jules looked off on the Goldie, making him a small risk to start here at Bells, but he's too good not to bounce back. I like the way Jules surfs here. Much like ADS he has a long bottom turn that sets him up to pace his maneuvers as needed. He has power for the bowl and all the trickery for Rincon and Winki.

Italo Ferreira (BRA) placing second in his Round 2 heat. If conditions start favoring backhanders, Italo could be your guy. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

Italo Ferriera "Italo is another minor passion pick for me but I think he's such a force to be reckoned with that I have a hard time leaving him off my team. He's raw and unpredictable, which I think keeps the judges interested. He's glued to his board and gravitates towards every section that comes his way. I can see him taking his act deep in this event.

Jordy Smith "Jordy will be pissed after having a weak start to his comeback year. I think his bad showing on the Goldie will fire him up enough to gain that competitive edge that sometimes goes missing. His brand of surfing suits all the waves on offer at Bells. Power, tricks, and rail prowess are attributes he owns. Now is his time put his name back in the mix and I believe he will."

Jordy Smith goes for a layback in the heat he won in Round 3 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Jordy Smith's looking for some traction on his comeback, and Bells could provide it. - WSL

Davey Cathels "I know he didn't get past the 2nd round on the Goldie but you cant deny the fact that he ripped. I think he will provide the same skill here at Bells but this time he will get past a few names. Davey will put his point break skills to use, especially if we move to Winki. He fast and fluid and beautiful on his rail.

**For more of Fantasy insights, head over to the Fantasy Surfing page.