Gabriel Medina's Round One draw against two other goofyfoots -- wildcard Benji Brand and Miguel Pupo -- was intriguing from the start. Brand took control of the heat early and was putting pressure on the two Brazilians. But when Pupo feverishly stroked into the best Pipe wave of the entire day, casually pulled up under the lip looking like Gerry Lopez and was rewarded with the day's best score -- 9.93 -- things were looking dire for Medina. The Brazilian won his first World Title here in 2014, and is making another run at the silver cup.
At the 12-minute mark Medina was still in a combination situation, needing two scores to come back. He managed to find one: an impossibly late drop and stellar tube that earned him excellent score of his own, but it was too little, too late. He'll now be up against the very dangerous wildcard, Dusty Payne, in Round Two's elimination heats, with his World Title hopes hanging in the balance.