Qualifying Race Heating Up in Europe: Situation Update

With three events left on this year's Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour most of the attention is aimed at the race for this year's world title. But there's a much larger race happening on the back half of the Jeep Leaderboard, where dozens of surfers are battling for their tour lives.

Jeremy Flores (FRA) during Round 4. Jeremy Flores will be fighting for his tour life during the busy European leg. The veteran has made a career of performing under pressure, so those above him have reason to worry. - WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

The Situation Breakdown
Only the Top 22 ranked CT surfers are guaranteed spots on next year's tour. Meanwhile, the Top 10 surfers on the Qualifying Series (QS) will also make the cut. With just a few major events left on both tours now is the time when we start paying close attention to what next year's roster may look like. Mind you, this environment is extremely fluid; it will change weekly over the next two months. Nevertheless, the current scenario gives us a nice glimpse of who's breaking through, and who's got serious work to do, as both tours enter Europe, the final turn of the 2016 season.


Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) .Anglet16 WSL / Laurent Masurel

Leonardo Fioravanti, ITA
Best Result 4500 points x 3 for runner-up finishes at the Australian Open, the Maitland Pro in Newcastle, and the Chiba Open in Japan.
Looking to Better 3500 points from 3rd place in Azores.
The charismatic Italian (who calls France home) has been enjoying a tear this year, both on the QS, where he's nabbed three key runner-up finishes, and during his multiple CT opportunities, including Margaret River, where he finished 5th.

Connor O'Leary (AUS) .Acores16 WSL / Laurent Masurel

Connor O'Leary, AUS
Best Result 10,000 points for 1st Place at Ballito Pro.
Looking to Better 750 points for 2nd place at Carve Pro. The lanky Australian goofyfooter has put together a solid string of results, including a 5th at Newcastle. But none are bigger, or more impactful, than his QS10000 win in South Africa.

Ethan Ewing (AUS) .Pantin16 WSL / Laurent Masurel

Ethan Ewing, AUS
Best Result 2nd Place at the Vans US Open of Surfing.
Looking to Better 750 points for 2nd place at Tweed Telstra Pro.
The 17-year-old Australian has become one of the biggest stories of 2016 with his utter dominance in the Pro Junior division in Australia and his subsequent QS tear.

Joan Duru (FRA) .Lacanau16 WSL / Laurent Masurel

Joan Duru, FRA
Best Result 8000 points for 2nd Place at Ballito Pro.
Looking to Better 1180 points from his 7th place at Volcom Pipe Pro.
Duru has been battling on the QS since 2011, with his previous best ranking of 20 in 2014. The 27-year-old is a seasoned competitor who will not be intimidated at the CT level should this ranking hold.

Ezekiel Lau (HAW) .Acores16 WSL / Laurent Masurel

Ezekiel Lau, HAW
Best Result 6500 points for 3rd place at Ballito Pro.
Looking to Better 600 points for his 49th place at US Open of Surfing.
The Hawaiian powerhouse was knocking on the CT door last year, but came up just a bit shy. He's a proven performer in Hawaii, but will be trying to lock his spot down well before then.

Evan Geiselman (USA) .Acores16 WSL / Laurent Masurel

Evan Geiselman, USA
Best Result 6000 points for 1st place at Chiba Open.

Looking to Better 1050 points for his 17th place in the Azores. The Floridian has been feeling wind at his back ever since surviving a near drowning at Pipeline last winter. His new lease on life has given him a fresh perspective on what matters most, and it's helped him enjoy the wild ride of this year's QS. Another solid result would go a long way toward locking him in.

Deivid Silva (BRA) .Casa16 WSL / Laurent Masurel

Deivid Silva, BRA
Best Result 3700 points for his 9th place finish at Ballito.
Looking to Better 1550 points for his 9th place at Newcastle.
Silva has been a silent assassin this year. Most of his points have come from under-the-radar results, like his 3rd at the Australian Open and his 17th at the US Open. That said, he just won a QS1500 in Casablanca. And let's not forget that he eliminated Matt Wilkinson at the CT contest in Rio, surfing as a wildcard.

Ian Gouveia (BRA) .Casa16 WSL / Laurent Masurel

Ian Gouveia, BRA
Best Result 6000 points for 1st place at Azores Airlines Pro.
Looking to Better 630 points for his 5th place in Casablanca.
Gouveia is surging of late, and has plenty of room for growth when you consider he's only trying to better a 600-point result. But the latter half of the season gets much tougher with CT stars trying to make up for lost ground.

Bino Lopes (BRA) . Acores16 WSL / Laurent Masurel

Bino Lopes, BRA
Best Result 5200 points for 5th place at the Vans US Open of Surfing.
Looking to Better 630 points for a 5th place at Casablanca.
This 30-year-old Brazilian has been battling on the QS since 2008, and is enjoying his best year yet. His keepers include a QS1500 win at Praia do Forte Pro, but with all the CT players adding pressure in the home stretch he (like others on this list) will certainly need some good finishes down the stretch if he's to lock this slot down.

CT Surfers Under Threat

Kai Otton at the Hurley Pro Trestles WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

Kai Otton, AUS
Current Rankings CT No. 34; QS No. 273
Best Option A CT tear through Europe and Hawaii.
The Australian goofyfooter has been a CT mainstay for a decade now, but is suffering through a rough one this year. At 37, he's not interested in pulling double duty on the QS, so there's bound to be a pretty solid retirement/birthday party for Otton after the Pipe Masters unless he catches fire quickly...and yes that can happen.

Keanu Asing (HAW) surfing during Heat 5 of Round Two at The Hurely Pro Trestles WSL / Sean Rowland

Keanu Asing, HAW
Current Rankings CT No. 33: QS No. 63
Best Option A CT tear through Europe and Hawaii.
Asing won over plenty of fans with his impassioned post-heat interview in Tahiti, where he was very direct about his tour survival. He needs more than one solid result to keep his CT dreams alive, but there's little doubt he'll be attacking the QS again if need be.

Matt Banting placed third in Heat 7 of Round One at the Billabong Pro Tahiti. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Matt Banting, AUS
Current Rankings CT No. 31; QS No. 34
Best Option A big QS tear through Europe.
Banting has been unable to get any real traction on the CT in 2016, and while Europe's beach breaks may help his cause, he'll be wise to do a full press in QS events, because he's only counting three events as of now.

Jeremy Flores placing runner-up in Round One. WSL / Ed Sloane

Jeremy Flores, FRA
Current Rankings CT No. 31; QS No. 18
Best Option A big QS run through his stomping grounds.
Flores is Europe's most accomplished surfer ever; he's a former winner at Pipeline and Teahupo'o, not to mention a survivor of several close qualification shaves. While 2016 looks like it may be another close one, Flores has two blank holes to fill on his QS ranking, which means he'll be climbing just for dipping his toe in the water. Should he bag a big result he'll be right back in the mix. He's arguably the most feared by those sitting in front of him.

Alejo Muniz winning Heat 6 of Round Three. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Alejo Muniz, BRA
Current Rankings CT No. 29; QS No. 192
Best Option A solid CT tear.
Muniz is a veteran performer who's shown flashes of brilliance during this year's CT, but has been unable to string together a series of results. He was injured during the first two events, and has only bombed out once this year, but his best CT result is a 9th. He'll need a couple solid CT finishes (read: quarters or better) to be back next year.

Jack Freestone placed second in Heat 11 of Round One. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Jack Freestone, AUS
Current Rankings CT No. 28; QS No. 32
Best Option Double duty.
Freestone's high profile made him one of the most highly anticipated rookies of 2016, but an injury he suffered on the Gold Coast proved costly, forcing him to miss two events. His 2nd-place finish in Rio is the best of any rookie this year, but his results since have been extremely spotty. That said, beachbreaks seem to be where he does best, so Europe could be where he makes his move on both the CT and QS.

Davey Cathels WSL / Kelly Cestari

Davey Cathels, AUS
Current Rankings CT No. 27; QS No. 24
Best Option Double duty.
Cathels is in a situation similar to Freestone's, but lacks the X-factor that earned Jack a trip to the finals in Rio. So whereas Jack may be looking for the one big result, Cathels is more likely to succeed by chipping away. He's got some open road on the QS to gain ground with two empty spots to fill, but he'll need to make some heats in the big ones.

Adam Melling WSL / Kelly Cestari

Adam Melling, AUS
Current Rankings CT No. 26; QS No. 250
Best Option A CT tear.
Since his 2010 rookie season Adam Melling has been a remarkably sturdy pillar of the mid-20s on the CT rankings, requalifying through the QS each and every year. But he's been non-existent on the QS in 2016. So apparently he's making a bold bet on himself in these next three CT events to keep things interesting. He's got some ground to make up, too. But remember, Melling finished in 5th at Pipeline last year, and he's bagged a few solid Europe results in his day, too.

Conner Coffin (USA) placed second in Heat 5 of Round One at the Hurley Pro Trestles. WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

Conner Coffin, USA
Current Rankings CT No. 25; QS No. 78
Best Option A CT tear.
The California carver started out with a bang in Australia, along with several other rookies. But gravity set in midway through the season, and Coffin is a familiar face to the judges. The QS hole is too deep to dig out of, so his best bet is to climb a few notches on the CT with some solid results in the punchy stuff, where he can match power with power.

Miguel Pupo (BRA) winning Heat 12 of Round Two of the Hurley Pro Trestles. WSL / Sean Rowland

Miguel Pupo, BRA
Current Rankings CT No. 23; QS No. 223
Best Option A CT tear.
Miguel Pupo has been here before. But he too is betting on a strong CT finish to lock his spot for next year. Being a high-flyer with a solid tube game, he's heading into a good stretch that suits his style of surfing, but the risks are real this time.