The World Surf League's 2015 Fantasy Surfing is open! But how does it all work?
First, if you haven't already, head to the WSL Fantasy Surfing page and create an account.
Then, get to know the basics...
You can play either as an Individual or against others in a Group. If a Group is Public anybody who has a Fantasy team can join. If a group is Private, only Fantasy team managers with the Group's password can join.
If you want to earn points for an entire event you have to select your Fantasy lineup before Round 1 begins. If your buddy is late to the party he can still create a team, however, he will not receive points for any rounds completed prior to setting a lineup. That means if you're a Fantasy League "commissioner" it's your job to remind your friends to make their picks.
How do the points work?
Whatever a surfer scores as a two-wave total in a heat is awarded as points for your team.
What happens when a surfer skips a round because he or she won a non-elimination round heat?
There are two non-elimination rounds on the Championship Tour, Rounds 1 and 4 for the men and Rounds 1 and 3 for the women. If a surfer wins these heats, he gets to skip the round after it. If one of your surfers wins during these rounds, you are automatically awarded 20.00 points (a perfect heat score) for the skipped round. So pick surfers you think are a good bet to win early heats.
Do I have to pick just one lineup for the whole season?
No! WSL Fantasy Surfing allows you to maximize your score by selecting surfers per event, which can come in handy when it comes to performance advantages at the various Championship Tour (CT) destinations.
For example, maybe you want to pick more goofyfooters for Teahupo'o, which breaks left, and more regularfooters for J-Bay, which breaks right. WSL Fantasy Surfing allows you to switch things up, giving you the greatest chance to earn bragging rights.
And, while it doesn't happen often, surfers sometimes suffer last minute injuries. If one of your surfers is forced to withdraw moments before a contest starts, you can add another! Make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest athlete news on WorldSurfLeague.com.
WSL Fantasy Surfing is broken into three Tiers -- A, B and C -- from which you have to select surfers to create your team. A surfer's Tour rank determines his Tier. This means you'll have to learn about the newest and the most seasoned surfers on Tour in order to pick the best team.
It's important to remember that Tiers could shuffle rapidly in the beginning of the season, when rankings are up for grabs. Case in point: You might not expect 2015 injury wildcard (...and 2001 World Champion) C.J. Hobgood to stay in Tier C. It's equally important to follow the rankings as the season progresses because surfers can move up or down a Tier after each event, potentially affecting your lineup -- and your strategy.
See how the Tiers break down:
Tier A: Players get 2 Picks from ranks 1 - 8
Tier B: Players get 4 Picks from ranks 9 - 24
Tier C: Players get 2 Picks from ranks 25 - 34
Tier A: Players get 1 Pick from ranks 1 - 3
Tier B: Players get 2 Picks from ranks 4 - 12
Tier C: Players get 1 Pick from ranks 13 - 17
BONUS: In 2015, WSL Fantasy Surfing has added the ability to select wildcards in Tier C. This requires a diligent approach as wildcards are often announced very near to the event start. But if you want a serious Dark Horse advantage you may consider playing the odds on a wildcard.
Fine-tune your game with a few simple hacks.
Rookies rock, but time on Tour still matters. Every surfer on the Top 34 or 17 has done well enough to arrive at the elite level. Still, there's something to be said for surfers who haven't just reached the pinnacle of professional surfing, but stayed there. If your choice comes down to two equally skilled surfers, don't forget to consider the number of years a surfer has been on the Tour. This can be a make-or-break at punishing spots like Teahupo'o and Pipeline, where reading the waves well takes years of experience.
Average Heat Score
Perhaps you want to pick surfers who have high heat score averages from last season. Consider that Courtney Conlogue (USA) had an average heat score of 13.42 in 2014. That was the fifth-highest overall, even though she finished at No. 9 in the rankings.
This stat reveals what percentage of all Fantasy players have selected any given surfer. It's a good strategy if you aren't familiar with some of the names on Tour. Or maybe you want to bet against your fellow league competitors, with the assumption that they're relying on the percentage starts to set their lineups.
For example: At a 4 percent start rate, few people are betting on French surfer Johanne Defay at the start of her second year on Tour. But the women's 2014 Rookie of the Year helped Fantasy participants earn a whopping 464 points last season. That's more than 100 points greater than Laura Enever (AUS), who (so far) has been selected by 16 percent of Fantasy competitors.
Defay might prove to be a good Dark Horse pick. But if you're still not sure who to select, don't forget to use former professionals Ross Williams' and Rosy Hodge's Start 'Em, Sit 'Em columns to help round out your lineup.
A consistent surfer might be a smarter choice than a high-ranked surfer. Adriano de Souza (BRA) is one such example. In the real world, he's World No. 8 on the Tour rankings, finishing three spots behind World No. 5 Michel Bourez (PYF). However, de Souza's overall average finish in contests during 2014 was 8th and Bourez's was 10th. Bourez's Tour ranking reflects his two event wins in 2014, but de Souza's average placing rank has him earning more Fantasy points.
The 2015 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and Roxy Pro Gold Coast will stream LIVE on the World Surf League (WSL) homepage beginning February 28. And be sure to set up your WSL Fantasy Surfing team before Round 1 hits the water!