- WSL / Cait Miers

The new Rip Curl WSL Finals format guarantees a head-to-head battle to decide the World Title, and while at the pointy end of the rankings things are looking pretty clear, there are still several athletes within striking distance of breaking into the WSL Final Five in Mexico or Tahiti.

For many of these athletes, the Rip Curl WSL Finals are their best chance yet of securing a World Title, and while there's a strong advantage to the World Number One going into the event, there's every chance we could see a Number Five or Number Four barnstorm their way through at Trestles.

So, who is going to have to put in some solid work to keep or earn their spot in the WSL Final Five? This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are dozens of mathematical possibilities when it comes to the eventual make up of the WSL Final Five.

But these are just some of the athletes who will be going into this last leg of the regular season, knowing that a big result could mean a huge opportunity.

NEWCASTLE, AUS - APRIL 10: Morgan Cibilic of Australia surfing in Heat 1 of Semifinals of the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona on April 10, 2021 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images) Few could claim they expected Morgan Cibilic to have done as well as he has in his Rookie Year - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Stephanie Gilmore

Seven-time World Champion Gilmore is currently ranked fifth, on 29,390 points. Carissa Moore is way out in front on 43,855 points, while No.2 and No.3 Johanne Defay and Sally Fitzgibbons are close on 34,645 and 34,270 respectively, and at no.4, Tatiana Weston-Webb has 33,625.

Gilmore needs to do well at Barra to get a more comfortable grasp on the WSL Final Five. The good news is the right-hand point is exactly the sort of wave you'd expect her to excel in, but there's only 730 points between her and sixth-placed Caroline Marks, and 2295 points between her and seventh-placed two-time World Champion Tyler Wright.

ROTTNEST ISLAND, AUS - MAY 17: Stephanie Gilmore during Round 2 of the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona on MAY 17, 2021 in Rottnest Island, WA, Australia.(Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images) Mexico is Stephanie Gilmore's chance to cement her spot in the WSL Final Five and push for a record eighth World Title - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Steph could easily win the event at Barra, but what happens if she has an upset?

The next venue, Teahupoo, hasn't been a women's CT stop since the early 2000s, and Gilmore has not spent that much time surfing the wave.

It would be a lot of pressure on the seven-time Champ to need to do well in Tahiti to secure her spot in the lineup at Lower Trestles for the Rip Curl WSL Finals.

Kanoa Igarashi

Igarashi will be coming to Mexico fresh off winning at Silver Medal at the Olympic Games. He's on 23,545 points, in sixth place, so close to Cibilic and Colapinto that he can taste it.

Igarashi will want to ensure he does enough to take one of their spots, to keep what is already one of the best years of his career rolling.

As we saw in the Olympic Semifinal in which Igarashi eliminated Gabriel Medina in the dying minutes, he can deliver in high-pressure situations. He's exactly the sort of athlete who could come from fourth or fifth place and secure a World Title, and he knows that better than anyone; it's why he'll be desperate to do everything he can to make up that little bit of ground that he needs.

LEMOORE, CA, UNITED STATES - JUNE 20: Kanoa Igarashi of Japan surfing in the Semifinal of the Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe on JUNE 20, 2021 in Lemoore, CA, United States. (Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League) Kanoa Igarashi will be coming into this last leg of the regular season with a lot of confidence after winning an Olympic medal. - WSL / Tony Heff

Isabella Nichols

Rookie Isabella Nichols isn't exactly knocking on the door of the WSL Final 5 just yet, but she's got a track record to prove she could be one of those surprise results which rockets someone up the rankings at the business end of the season.

She's on 23,555 points, in eighth place. Back at the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona, she came second -- meaning she was in a Finals Day in what was only her second CT event of her Rookie Year.

NARRABEEN, AUS - APRIL 17: Isabella Nichols of Australia surfing in Heat 5 of Round 1 of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona on April 17, 2021 in Narrabeen, Australia. (Photo by Cait Miers/World Surf League via Getty Images) Could Isabella Nichols surf her way into the WSL Final Five? - WSL / Cait Miers

Nichols is based near the Gold Coast's famed sand-bottomed points which are perfect training for Mexico, and this year she's also banked two fifth-place finishes. And for those paying attention to her Instagram account, she's snuck down to Tahiti to get a few laps in at Teahupo'o. Already a talented barrel rider, this trip could pay huge dividends.

In Nichols' Final, and for those two fifths -- her three best results -- she was knocked out by Carissa Moore. There's no shame being beaten by the best, and the scores she was posting could have seen her advance against a less daunting prospect than Moore.

Could we see Nichols fighting for a World Title at Trestles soon?

Morgan Cibilic

Cibilic was one of the stars of the Australian leg. He eliminated John John Florence, twice, and made a Final at Rottnest Island. Cibilic is currently fourth on the rankings, but there's not much breathing room between him and the competitors nipping at his heels.

On 24,610 points, there's only 375 points between current No.5 Griffin Colapinto, and less than 4,400 points between Cibilic and every athlete down the rankings to Yago Dora, who is currently in ninth.

Currently sitting number 4 in the world, Morgan Cibilic season was marked by big upsets including defeating John John Florence twice. Tail to the sky, Cibilic has already done significant damage on Tour in his rookie year. - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Another big result could cement Cibilic's place in the WSL Final Five, meaning he'll be competing for a World Title in his Rookie Year on Tour. But there's no room for a slip-up.

We've never seen Cibilic at waves of consequence like Teahupo'o, and Barra de la Cruz -- the location for the Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver -- is the first right-hand point on Tour this year. How is the young Australian going to fare?

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