The men's and women's Challenger Series rankings are currently dominated by young athletes who will be Championship Tour Rookies if they can keep the roll alive through the last event of the season, at Haleiwa.
Once that event is wrapped, we'll know for certain which 12 men and 6 women will be booking their tickets to the 2022 CT -- right now, it's looking like it will be one of the biggest generational refreshes professional surfing has seen.
The introduction of the Challenger Series -- which allows the top Qualifying Series athletes from each region to compete for a CT spot -- has coincided with some of the biggest names in the sport stepping back from the Tour.
Based on the current CT rankings or public statements about their intentions for 2022, Adrian Buchan, Julian Wilson, Nikki Van Dijk, Bronte Macaulay and Sage Erickson are some of the mainstays of the CT we won't be seeing full-time in 2022.
At the same time, some of the most promising talents the sport has seen -- especially in terms of progression on the women's side of the Tour -- are one event away from potentially breaking into the big leagues and doing some serious damage, all while waves such as Pipeline and Teahupoo have been added to the (women's) schedule. For everyone, there's also the addition of Sunset, and G-land.
It's a perfect storm of changes that are going to make 2022 one of the most compelling yet, with a whole new generation coming onto the scene at a time when the fiercest competitors we've known -- athletes such as Italo Ferreira, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Stephanie Gilmore or John John Florence are still at their peak.
Caitlin Simmers, who won the recent US Open of Surfing Huntington Beach presented by Shiseido, is 15 years old. At no.3 on the Challenger Series rankings, she's in a very solid position to earn a chance at a Rookie year in 2022.
Then you have a host of other young, justifiably-hyped talents who are going to be coming for the CT if they can post a solid result at Haleiwa. Gabriela Bryan is already locked in, while India Robinson, Sawyer Lindblad and Vahine Fierro are not far off.
Neither is Australia's Molly Picklum, who has one of the most well-rounded, progressive approaches seen in a long time in someone about to graduate from the QS to the CT.
Vahinne Fierro charges Teahupo'o, all the time. Spare a thought for whoever draws her in their heats if she makes the Tour, regardless of how many world titles they have; she has more tube time logged out there than anyone she'll find herself up against.
On the men's side, a new wave of Australians and USA surfers are knocking on the CT door -- could this be the change needed for someone from their two surfing powerhouse countries to wrest a World Title from the at times seemingly-insurmountable talent coming out of Brazil?
Liam O'Brien, Callum Robson, Jackson Baker, Jake Marshall, Cole Houshmand ... these are just some of the next generation who are now very close to breaking onto the CT. Then you have talents such as Imaikalani deVault, Lucca Mesinas or Carlos Munoz who are right there, too.
Change is healthy, and it's exciting. When you throw new waves, and a cohort of young talent coming for the veterans all at once into the mix, 2022 could be the most compelling season of Championship Tour surfing we've seen yet.