- WSL / Kirstin Scholtz
- WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

On his journey from France to Portugal, Ross Williams spent some serious time mulling over his Fantasy Team. Having kept a sharp eye on the competitors during last week's Quiksilver Pro France, he took one last look at the forecast before we caught up with him at about midnight in Peniche to hear his thoughts.

John John Florence (HAW) during Round 2. In Portugal last year, John John Florence was a Round Three casualty to Keanu Asing. He'll be looking to redeem himself this year. - WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

WSL: Okay, so you're really sticking your neck out here with John John and Gabriel in Tier A, eh?
Ross Williams: Haha. Well I got pretty burned picking Kelly in the last event so I'm still a bit scarred from that one. Plus, I think John and Gabe are too obvious not to pick.

What's interesting, however, is that neither of them have a crazy Heat Win Percentage (HWP) in Portugal. They're both in the mid-50s, as compared to France where they were high 60s and Gabe was at 75.
Yeah, but I think John's proven he's in a different place this year, and Gabe's a madman right now going for the title.

Gabriel Medina (BRA) above the lip in Round 1. Medina was tagged for an interference call against Italo Ferreira in last year's Quarterfinal, so he too will be looking for vengeance. - WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

What are you looking for with your Tier B picks in Peniche?
I'm picturing all the guys who surf great in punchy, peaky waves -- which frankly, is a pretty long list of guys -- so this one was tough. But Italo went absolutely nuts last year, so he was the easiest of the bunch.

Yeah, his HWP is 71.43, but that's all based on his appearance in last year's event.
I think these conditions are perfect for him. Adriano is just an animal out there too. Very fast and sure on his feet. I think Josh Kerr is going to bounce back here in these conditions, and I really like what I'm seeing out of Parko lately. He's surfing great and looks like he's having a good time, which always helps.

Italo Ferreira (BRA) in the athletes' lounge at the Moche Rip Curl Pro. After his jaw-dropping performance last year in Peniche, Italo is no longer a sleeper pick. - WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

Who did it hurt to pass on here?
I'd say my toughest guys to leave out of this bunch were Caio Ibelli and Seabass [Sebastian Zietz]. I can easily see both of those guys doing well out here because their styles suit these kinds of conditions. Caio was a wildcard here last year and competed well. Ace Buchan is another one who's always a reliable earner in this stuff. That said, I like my picks. They're all competing well this year and rip this type of wave.

Caio Ibelli (BRA) during Round 3. Surfing as a wildcard in 2015 Caio Ibelli made it to Round Three before losing to Medina in a close battle. But his strong performance stuck with Williams, who had a tough time leaving Ibelli off his roster this year. - WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

Alright, so tell me about your Tier C reasoning.
This one was tough too, because I feel like there are a lot of good sleeper picks in this field: Dusty Payne, Matt Banting and Alejo Muniz are all guys I can see stepping up at a place like this. But I'm really liking Jack Freestone and Ryan Callinan here, so I went with them. I know they're both young rookies who've had challenging seasons, but they're both crazy talented.

I could see either win an event like this. Ryan really stepped up in France with that big air against John, and I think he's just now getting his confidence going. As for Jack, well, we saw what he could do in punchy peaks in Brazil. Plus these guys have extra motivation with the whole requalification race. They're pretty far out on the CT rankings at the moment, so they've got nothing to lose, which is exactly where Keanu was in France.

Watch the MEO Rip Curl Pro starting at 8:05 am WET, or watch the complete replay starting at 12:00 pm PDT.

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