- WSL / Kelly Cestari

As the start of the 2022 Championship Tour season gets set to kick off with the Billabong Pro Pipeline, we're counting down the most memorable championship moments from the past 10 years.

Considering how many years the Championship Tour finished at Pipeline there have been tantalizing few World Titles decided during a Final at surfing's ultimate proving ground.

Before Italo Ferreira claimed his first World Title with a win over Gabriel Medina at Pipe in 2019, the last time it had happened was way back in 2003. That was when Andy Irons won his second Title in a Final against Kelly Slater.

Italo Ferreira Wins 2019 World Title and Becomes A Pipeline Champion
The 25-year-old becomes the third Brazilian ever to win a World Title and is now officially a Pipe champion.

While it may have been a while between the two, the reminder of how exciting it was to watch it all come down to the last heat of the year has had some profound changes on the sport: It was so good in fact, it led to the creation of the Rip Curl WSL Finals, which ensures the World Title is now decided on a single day, in the water, during the final heat of the season, every year.

But it wasn't just the tension of a Pipeline victory determining the World Champion that made this one of the great moments in surfing history.

OAHU, UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 11: Italo Ferreira of Brazil advances to Round 4 of the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters after winning Heat 1 of Round 3 at Pipeline on December 11, 2019 in Oahu, United States. (Photo by Ed Sloane/WSL via Getty Images) Italo Ferreira's World Title was celebrated by everyone on the beach, who were enthralled by the ‘People's Champion.' - WSL / Ed Sloane

This moment was when Ferreira really planted his flag as a force to be reckoned with. He came up against a dominant Medina in the Final -- at a wave Medina excels at -- and came away with a win.

Throughout 2019, the two Brazilians had been regular sparring partners. Both had two event wins heading into Pipeline and both had consistent, dominant years that saw them as the two main contenders when the Championship Tour rolled into Hawaii.

Ferreira arrived on the North Shore earlier than anyone else on Tour, and enlisted the help of Pipeline legends Jamie O'Brien and Shane Dorian. Once the event was called on, he was ready to go.

OAHU, UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 10: Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil advances directly to Round 3 of the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters after winning Heat 5 of Round 1 at Pipeline on December 10, 2019 in Oahu, United States. (Photo by Kelly Cest The 2019 Final at Pipeline was when the intense sparring between Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira shaped the future of how a World Title would be decided. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

But the smart money, really, was always on Medina. Unlike Ferreira, he never seemed to struggle in waves of consequence.

There was a sense that Italo was having a great year, but now it's Medina's for the taking. Except Ferreira had other ideas. Italo's end-of-season momentum had helped him crack the competitive code, and his mojo wasn't going to diminish at the final hurdle.

It was Ferreira's statement to commentator Rosie Hodge as he was moving through the draw, before the Final, which explained how his mindset had changed.

"I love this game, and I know how to play it. Just one more. Let's do it."

Ferreira at that point went on to claim his first World Title, and the Pipeline victory. He hasn't looked back since, and neither have fans of surfing.

The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Pipeline gets underway on January 29. Keep it locked right here at WorldSurfLeague.com for the latest news and info as we countdown the start of the 2022 Championship Tour.

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