Fantasy surfer players get desperate this time of year. As the season comes to a close those who've fallen behind in their league take risks in an effort to overtake their competitors. Of course the downside risks are far greater than the upside potential, but for Ross Williams, who's trailing fellow WSL commentator Ronnie Blakey in his league, the risks can be worth it.
WSL: So you've got some ground to make up on Ronnie heading into the Billabong Pipe Masters. I know you say you want to take some risks, but you've picked John John Florence and Gabriel Medina in Tier A. What exactly is the risk there?
Ross Williams: I know, right? Well it's risky because I know Ronnie will probably have the same guys. So they won't do me any good. This is John's year, and you'd be crazy not to have him out there, but Gabe is gnarly. He's made back-to-back Finals. Both these guys want it, too. They've never won the Pipe Masters, and that's something that's eating at both of them.
Will you consider swapping if the forecast calls for smaller backdoor?
It's possible. But Gabby is really good going left or right, so honestly that's going to be tough. But if you're up against the ropes and you want to gamble in Tier A I'd keep my eyes on Julian Wilson, he's really good out there, and a proven winner. Parko is right up there too. He's always good on the rights. I wouldn't get too caught up in stats here though, because Pipe is always full of surprises. There's a lot of fresh faces that break through here.
So that brings us to Tier B, where you've picked Kelly, Josh Kerr, Sebastian Zietz and Miguel Pupo. I see little more rolling of the dice here.
For sure. Kelly is Kelly. No explanation needed there, but with Josh and Miguel I feel like those guys are my dark horse picks. I've been watching them both out here and they're really strong. Miguel is one of those goofyfooters who's dangerous on the rights, too. He's only 9% owned as of today, so that tells me a lot of guys are underestimating him. Josh, meanwhile, has been surprising people all year. Seabass is crazy good out here. A Triple Crown Champion. I feel good about him but I wouldn't be surprised if Ronnie has him too.
Tier B is stacked with talent. Who was tough to leave off?
Always. Filipe Toledo is a really tough one to pass on here. Everyone thinks he's not comfortable yet in Hawaii, but that's only true if it's over 10-foot. If it's 6-foot Backdoor Pipe he's going to be lethal. Even more so if it's 4-to-6 foot. The other guy I think is dangerous out here is Jadson Andre. He's on such a roll right now, having just requalified. I was super stoked for him too. But I'm not going to lie, being a Hawaiian I was really hoping Zeke would make the cut too. And he still can if Jadson double qualifies, so I asked him to do me a favor and do well at Pipe. He looked at me all serious - tilted head and everything - and said, "Yes. I will do it for you." He's classic.
Who else is tough to pass on here?
Ace for sure. He's great at Pipe. And if you're feeling risky, guys like Caio Ibelli are worth considering. He loves hollow waves. He's in the hunt for Rookie of the Year, and he's only 5% owned at this point.
You've got Jeremy Flores and Jack Freestone in Tier C . Flores is a former winner, so understandable. Jack's been spotty this year though, so he's your gamble here?
Yeah. He's had a rough one. But he's also coming in with some momentum, and I've been watching him out there. He's surfing really good. It was either him or a guy like Kai Otton, who I reserve the right to swap if it looks like the left is going to be doing its thing. I had Kai on my team up until yesterday. But it looks like by the time Round One of the Main Event comes it'll be more of medium size Backdoor.
What about the two injury replacements...Bruce Irons and Frederico Morais?
Yeah, they're making the Tier C group a lot more interesting, for sure. Bruce out here - I mean, we've all seen what he can do. I know he'll be fired up. I think Frederico's going to have a little tougher time just because he's got the lower seeds and he'll be going straight up against the big boys. He's good though man. This is going to be an interesting one.