- WSL / Ed Sloane
- WSL / Ed Sloane

And so it all comes down to Sunset. At the Vans World Cup, the qualifying cards will be shuffled and left to fall for the last time in 2017. It is an epic, history-soaked wave and the perfect venue to host a thrilling Qualifying Series (QS) climax. As it stands, if we assume a cutoff of 19,000 points, we already have five surfers locked in for the CT for 2018. For those with a beautiful mind, that leaves five positions left to be decided.

Frederico Morais placed second in Heat 3 of Round Four at the VANS World Cup of Surfing at Sunst Beach, Hawaii today. Last year Frederico Morais made the Final at Sunset to secure his Championship Tour qualification. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

On the QS, only the five best results count for each surfer's year-end tally. The key, then, is improving on your worst result. Keanu Asing, for example, is in seventh place with 16,950 points, but is counting 3,000 points as his worst result. To improve his overall tally he'll need a result that bags more than 3,000 points. If he were to make the Quarterfinals at Sunset he would net a minimum 3,800 points which would improve his overall tally by 800 points. That, however, still wouldn't be enough to reach the magical 19,000 points. He'll need at least a Semifinal, and the 5,100 point reward that comes with it, to guarantee his return to the CT.

In the top QS ratings we can also discount Italo Ferreira, Filipe Toledo, Jordy Smith and Frederico Morais, who are guaranteed spots through their Championship Tour rankings. That leaves the six surfers below who will be desperately trying to do better than their worst results and make the cut. Here we drill down to see just what they need to do to make their CT dreams come true.

Name: Keanu Asing
Current QS Rank: 7th, 16,950 points
Worst Counting Result: 3,000 points
Requirement: 7th place for a minimum of 5,100 points

Keanu Asing during his Round Three heat. Keanu Asing during the 2016 Vans World Cup. - WSL / Ed Sloane

Keanu has bounced back from the disappointment of last year's relegation to the QS with a fresh approach and since then, he's been living more in the moment. He's netted three QS wins with incredible consistency. He needs a big result, but with his newfound maturity and perspective, that won't faze him.

Name: Wade Carmichael
Current QS Rank: 8th, 16,800 points
Worst Counting Result: 2,100 points
Requirement: 7th place for 4,300 points

Wade Carmichael taking off in his Round 1 heat. Carmichael is as ready as ever this year, and he'll be hoping for a solid swell at Sunset. - WSL / Ed Sloane

Carmichael was in this position in 2015, but failed to capitalize. He genuinely loves Sunset and has repeated competitive success here. With his power hacks and laid-back composure, he'll be confident of making it happen the second time around.

Name: Ezekiel Lau
Current QS Rank: 9th, 16,650 points
Worst Counting Result: 1,100 points
Requirement: 13th place for 3,450 points

Ezekiel Lau celebrates qualifying for the 2017 championship tour after advancing through the Quarter Finals at the VANS World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach, Hawaii today. Lau won at Sunset last year, and you can rest assured he'll be aiming for another one. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

One of the most accomplished Sunset surfers in the field Lau, too, should be better off, having gone through this same process last year. He failed by just 50 points, or one place in a heat, to ensure absolute safety. You'd expect him to keep his destiny in his own hands this year and complete a remarkable turnaround on the QS in the last three months.

Name: Michael Rodrigues
Current QS Rank: 11th, 16,550 points
Worst Counting Result: 1,550 points
Requirement: 7th place for 4,000 points

Rodrigues Belts Brazil
Michael Rodrigues posted a big score during Round 2, Heat 12 at the Oi HD Sao Paulo Open of Surfing.

After banging on the door since 2014, the Brazilian has been in the top 10 all year, mainly on the basis of a stellar European QS leg where he finaled twice. Sunset will be a bigger test, but the stylish naturalfooter has a rail game to damage there. After being in the mix for so long, he'll know this will be his best chance to make the step up.

Name: Michael February
Current QS Rank: 14th, 14,750 points
Worst Counting Result: 1,000 points
Requirement: 5th place for 5,200 points

Michael February of South Africa advances to the Quarterfinals of The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong after winning Heat 1 of Round Five at Willard Beach, Ballito, South Africa. February swoops at home in Ballito. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

The lone South African vying to join Jordy Smith on the Championship Tour (CT), February had two big results at Ballito and Huntington, but has failed to back them up. On the one hand, that means he doesn't need much to improve on his worst result. On the other, he still has a lot of ground to make up. His surfing and frame suit Sunset, but a Semifinal finish is a big task.

Name: Jorgann Couzinet
Current QS Rank: 16th
Worst Counting Result: 1,125 points
Requirement: Final for 6,400 points

Jorgann Couzinet of France goes down in quarterfinal heat 4 of the WSL 2017 Vans presents the HIC Pro Couzinet finds the Inside Bowl at Sunset. - WSL / Tony Heff

Forced to relocate to Hossegor from his home of Reunion Island due to the shark issue, the naturalfooter has come from nowhere. That he is even in with a shot at making the CT is remarkable. A Final at Sunset is definitely in the long-shot category, but having overcome so much to be in the position, he won't go down without a fight.

Watch the Vans World Cup live on the WSL from Sat., Nov. 25 - Dec. 6.

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