- WSL / Kelly Cestari
- WSL / Kelly Cestari

One of the biggest surprises of the 2016 Qualifying Series has been the rise of Italian Leonardo Fioravanti. The 18-year old went on a charm offensive while ripping his way to the top of the QS rankings and torching several of the world's best as a CT wildcard.

Leonardo Fioravanti won Heat 6 of Round Three at the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, Hawaii today. Leonardo Fioravanti has already been called the new face of European surfing. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

Though he's slipped to No. 5 on the QS, Fioravanti has already locked a spot on the 2017 Samsung Galaxy World Championship Tour, and he won't be the only fresh European face on Tour next year, because one of the hidden headlines of 2016 is there's serious depth coming from that bench.

The quiet rise of Joan Duru is another big surprise. After a solid performance at the Hawaiian Pro the Frenchman has climbed to No. 2 on the QS, locking his spot on next year's Tour.

Joan Duru winning Heat 11 of Round Three at the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, Hawaii today. Joan Duru is finally breaking through after years of waging battle on the QS. His powerful backhand attack will likely serve him well on the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

And there might be more backup coming, because Portugal's powerhouse Frederico Morais just jumped to No. 10 on the QS after making the Final at Haleiwa, and Marc Lacomare, another Frenchman, is out there knocking at No. 21.

While Fioravanti's grabbed most of the headlines, Duru has been a stealth threat on the Qualifying Series.

Morais is no stranger to big results in Hawaii. In 2013, the man from Portugal won the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing "Rookie of the Year" award, mainly on the back of a 4th place finish at the World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach. For the last week, it would have been easy to argue that outside of World Champ John John Florence, he's been the form surfer of the event.

Frederico Morais winning Heat 6 of Round Four at the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, Hawaii today. Frederico Morais - WSL / Kelly Cestari

With an upright, powerful style he's been well coached by local Rainos Hayes and another Aussie legend, Richard "Dog" Marsh. He gave Florence everything he had in the Final, losing by the smallest of margins on a count back. Now sitting No. 10 (climbing 18 spots) on the WSL QS rankings, a good result at the World Cup could seal an unexpected spot on next year's elite tour.

Morais jumped 18 spots up the QS ladder at the Hawaiian Pro, and is sitting at No. 10 heading into the Vans World Cup.

The Frenchman, Lacomare, has been a fixture on the QS tour for the past few years, but has never been able to mix his strong results in Europe with other stops on tour. He was on a roll at Haleiwa until he ran into that John John Florence guy in the Semifinal, winning every heat he surfed with a good eye for waves and a mean backside hook.

Marc Lacomare (FRA) .Lacanau16 Marc Lacomare - WSL / Laurent Masurel

Lacomare has a much tougher road to haul. But the Frenchman's powerful backhand approach, with its sweet, fading bottom turn, is well suited to Sunset's reef-churning walls. His heavy-footed snaps throw buckets of spray, too, which helps impress judges sitting on a scaffold tower a quarter-mile away.

Marc Lacomare jumped 31 spots up the QS ladder thanks to his 3rd-place finish at the Hawaiian Pro. He's now ranked No. 21.

He, too, has a strong support team. In his corner sits longtime WSL CT surfer Jake Paterson, a man who's no stranger to the relative nuances of Sunset Beach. Lacomare rocketed up 31 spots to No. 21 on the QS rankings in a single event, which is astounding, but he'll need to repeat the feat at Sunset to have a real shot at the Big Show.

World Surf League
Download it for free on the App store. Download it for free on Google Play.