There's a battle at the top of the Jeep Leaderboard with Steph Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright all charging for the World Title trophy. Interestingly enough those same three women have the highest Average Heat Score in Brazil, only in reverse order, starting with Tyler's 13.77 down to Steph's 13.29.
That makes your Tier A pick a tricky call but a point of separation comes when looking at Heat Win Percentage. Sally and Tyler are both in the mid 70% range while Steph falls all the way down to 52.6%. Steph has also missed two Brazil events in the past four years and hasn't cracked the Semifinals since 2011.
Tyler is on fire this season with the highest AHS and already having surfed seven excellent heats, but Sally's backhand has proven to be lethal in the past. Her toughness is also unrivaled. We've seen Sally surf through a busted eardrum in Fiji and a sliced foot just last month at Bells. Neither seemed to slow her down.
While it's abnormal to see Carissa Moore fall into Tier B, it makes choosing her for your team so much easier. Over the past six years, Riss has never lost before the Semifinals, but only has one Final appearance to her name, a win back in 2011. Her Heat Win Percentage in Brazil is 2nd on Tour to only Sally.
Courtney Conlogue is another solid option coming off her 2nd consecutive Bells title and being one of only four active surfers to previously win in Brazil. With Saquarema being a major swell magnet, don't be surprised to see her turn another gear if conditions get big.
Coco Ho and Lakey Peterson are consistent mid-range performers in Rio. Both have top 10 AHS and HWP. This season both have shown flashes of promise.
On the other side of Tier B, Sage Erickson has had a tough time in South America, only winning one heat in four years here. Her AHS has been respectable though at 12.67, and she could stand to benefit from a higher seed, as well as the new location in Saquarema.
Tatiana Weston-Webb is half Brazilian and even has her own TV show down there. Though she hasn't had any major success in Brazil up to this point her forehand attack is likely a much better fit for the lefts at Saquarema, making her the big breakout threat of the event.
Laura Enever has looked out of sorts so far in 2017. She's averaged a 5.55 heat total, five points lower than the next CT surfer Bronte Macaulay. Lucky for her, Brazil has been a decent event for Laura. She's made the Quarterfinals three times here and we hope she can turn it around. It's possible that knee injury from Peahi is still lingering.
Keep in mind Malia Manuel is also on the mend from her injured MCL in Western Australia and will be replaced by Bianca Buitendag, a former finalist in 2015. The lanky South African goofyfooter is a hidden gem, very worth consideration.