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WSL Stats: Title Probabilities

Welcome to the Billabong Pipe Masters Title Probability Preview, an endeavor where our in-house analytics team combines their significant insight with a data-driven approach to create the gold standard for surf soothsaying.

The WSL Stats department took an ultra-close look at past performances, CT competition trends and a huge pile of league data to calculate the probability of the three Title contenders -- Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo and Julian Wilson -- and their individual chances of winning the 2018 World Title at Pipe.

Dawn Patrol: Scene Set at Pipe
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Probability to win the 2018 World Title:

  • Gabriel Medina: 91%
  • Filipe Toledo: 6%
  • Julian Wilson: 3%
  • All others: 0%

While you can never anticipate what mother ocean will provide in an event--or even a single heat-- these probabilities are our best attempt at predicting the outcome. Our analysis is based on the Title contenders heat differentials from their previous three years at Pipe, their previous three events in 2018 as well as their 2018 season.

2014 World Champion and 2018 title contender Gabriel Medina (BRA) freesurfing ahead of the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters at Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. Gabriel Medina during a freesurf ahead of the 2018 Pipe Masters. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Heat Differential definition: How much better or worse a surfer performs compared to opponents in their heats. This is calculated by taking the difference of a surfer's total heat score and the total heat score of their heat opponent(s).

For example during the 2018 Quiksilver Pro France Semifinal, Julian Wilson defeated Gabriel Medina 16.67 to 15.44. This gave Wilson a heat differential of +1.23 for that heat. Conversely, Medina had a heat differential of -1.23.

Using this metric to apply to surfers' scores we ran a simulation 1,000 times to come up with these probabilities.

Title contender Julian Wilson (AUS) freesurfing ahead of the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters at Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. Wilson taking advantage of the recent swell in Hawaii. WSL / Kelly Cestari

World Title Scenarios:

  • If Gabriel Medina makes the final at Pipeline, he wins the World Title.
  • If Gabriel Medina places 3rd at Pipeline, Julian Wilson and Filipe Toledo will need a 1st to win the World Title.
  • If Gabriel Medina finishes 5th or worse at Pipeline, Julian Wilson and Filipe Toledo will need to make the final to win the World Title.

Final Notes: In 2014, Julian Wilson won the Billabong Pipe Masters over Gabriel Medina in the Final; however, Medina went on to win his World Title that year. Filipe Toledo made it to the Quarterfinals as well, his best result at Pipe to date, when he was eliminated by Medina in the Quarterfinals.

Filipe Toledo (BRA) Filipe Toledo during the 2014 Pipe Masters. WSL / Laurent Masurel

Gabriel Medina has the highest average heat score at Pipe with a 12.81. Filipe Toledo comes in 2nd with a 10.16 and Julian Wilson with a 9.92.

Watch the final event of the 2018 season, the Billabong Pipe Masters, live December 8-20 on Facebook.com/wsllive, Worldsurfleague.com and App.

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