Odds are your fantasy team took a hit Saturday.
By the time Round Four was complete 8 of the Top 10 surfers on the Jeep Leaderboard were out, including John John Florence, Gabriel Medina, dark horse Ace Buchan, and defending champion Mick Fanning.
The waves were solid. The surfing incredible. And by day's end 4 of 8 Quarterfinalists were decided, including Jordy Smith, Filipe Toledo, Tanner Gudauskas, and rookie Alex Ribeiro. In the aftermath of the bloodbath, debate is still raging.
Yet the day began quietly.
It started with Jordy Smith dodging a bullet in his Round Three match with Kai Otton. Both struggled in the lineup. In the grey and glassy morning conditions, Jordy said he was having visibility issues, "It's so glassy out there I couldn't tell where the lip was, so I kept picking the wrong line," he explained. Otton needed only a 3.50 to turn the heat in the closing moments, but the ocean went quiet.
"I'm lucky to survive that one," Jordy declared. "Those frustrating heats happen, and you just have to leave them in the water and move on, so that's what I'm going to try to do."
Kelly Slater was paired with rookie Jack Freestone a couple of heats later. On paper it looked like a tough match for the 6x event champion…but it wasn't. Slater immediately took to the air, knowing Freestone would be doing the same. He stayed busy after jumping out to an early lead, nabbing lefts and inside rights, and putting his rails to work. And while Jack eventually had a couple good turns, he mysteriously couldn't finish a single ride.
Kolohe Andino and Conner Coffin were next. The two California kingpins both groomed their styles at Southern California's most iconic point breaks (Kolohe at Lowers and Connor at Rincon). Andino hacked his home break to pieces in one of his strongest performances of the season. Coffin's classic Rincon carve couldn't match Kolohe's variety. By the end of the heat, Conner was two scores down.
Filipe Toledo raised the bar one heat later, decimating the Lowers lineup with a toxic blend of carving, flying, and spinning in his battle with Caio Ibelli. Filipe's speed and flow are always intact, but what's most impressive about his surfing is he rarely bobbles. He sticks every big move without flinching.
Things really got interesting when Brett Simpson hit the water with John John Florence. One day after eliminating World No. 2 Matt Wilkinson, Simpo got his crack at the World No. 1. "John John is an incredible surfer," Simpo said afterward. "He has the edge on me in every performance category, so I knew if I was going to have a shot at this heat I'd have to get a good start and surf smart."
That's exactly what he did. Similar to his Wilko win, Simpo set the tone with an 8-point ride early on. The pressure was palpable, and John couldn't recover. Florence surfed frustrated for the rest of the heat. He picked mediocre waves, and like Freestone a few heats earlier, he couldn't stitch together a complete ride.
Following Brett's upset, Gabriel Medina smelled blood.
In the next heat, Medina -- World No. 2 -- took on local wildcard Tanner Gudauskas. With John John out of the contest, this was Medina's first big chance to steal the yellow jersey.
But the San Clemente wildcard refused to bow down to the former World Champ. Coming off a 10-point ride in Round One, Tanner put on another dynamic show at his home break. Medina and Gudauskas went blow for blow, exchanging a series of 8-point rides. But toward the end of the heat Medina caught a long one. He sent repeated plumes of spray out the back as he raced down the point, and many thought it spelled game over for Gudauskas. The judges disagreed. They deemed Tanner's turns more critical, and handed the San Clemente local a huge, albeit controversial, win.
Commentators tried to make sense of it all during the post show, but even they couldn't agree on whether the judges got it right or wrong. With a world title on the line the debate isn't likely to end soon.
But the big upsets weren't over. Stuart Kennedy eliminated the 3x World Champ Mick Fanning in Round Three. It was a huge win for Kennedy, who's on the qualification bubble, expecting his second child, and was up against his favorite surfer of all time. His signature "Sci-fi" model served him well.
By the time Round Three was over Jordy Smith was the only Top 5 surfer left in the draw. After barely surviving his morning heat the South African went to town in Round Four, earning a fast-track to the Quarterfinals after dropping the hammer on a handful of lined up rights. He nabbed a pair of 9's, easily besting Michel Bourez and Kelly Slater.
Toledo followed Jordy into the Quarterfinals with another rock-solid performance, and they were later joined by Gudauskas and Brazilian rookie Alex Ribeiro, who kept their dream runs going. Gudauskas got past Parko and Kennedy in his Round Four heat, while Ribeiro got the jump on Jadson Andre and Josh Kerr.
When competition resumes it will start with Round Five. Brett Simpson will face Tahitian power monger Michel Bourez; Kelly Slater and Kolohe Andino will fight for their title contending lives; Stu Kennedy will face fellow Aussie Josh Kerr; Joel Parkinson will take on Jadson Andre.