LOS ANGELES, Calif/USA (Tuesday, August 9, 2022) - Today, the World Surf League (WSL) announced a number of updates to the Challenger Series, the ultimate battleground for surfers to showcase their talents for the chance to qualify for the elite Championship Tour (CT) for 2023 and beyond.
The updates include: reducing the Challenger Series fields, no longer requiring CT surfers who made the Mid-season Cut to compete in two Challenger Series events, and increasing the prize money. The enhancements are designed to optimize swell windows, create stronger event storylines, and build athlete profiles.
"We've made these changes to positively improve the Challenger Series," said Jessi Miley-Dyer, SVP of Tours and Head of Competition. "We've listened closely to competitor feedback after our first season and incorporated those into the 2023 format. The new changes to the field are designed to take advantage of better conditions within swell windows, and increase the prize money for the athletes. We've also created more opportunities for Challenger Series competitors to requalify for next year's Challenger season without having to go back to the Regional Tour, by allocating 10 men's and five women's spots for the top-ranked Challenger surfers who don't make the CT."
From 2023, the Challenger Series fields will be reduced from 96 to 80 men and 64 to 48 women, with most of the reduction coming from the previous allocation for CT surfers who made the Mid-season Cut. Starting next season, CT surfers who made the Mid-season Cut will no longer be required to compete at two Challenger Series events; though, they can apply for an event wildcard if they wish to compete. With the introduction of the Mid-season Cut, the 12 men and seven women who were on the CT at the start of the season, but missed CT requalification, will automatically qualify for all Challenger Series events, ensuring that the elite stars from the CT will compete against the up and coming elite athletes from around the world. The reduced field size will enable the competitions to take advantage of more optimum swell cycles at each respective location.
All Challenger Series competitions will host 80 men and 48 women, from the following qualification routes:
- 12 men and seven women from the CT who did not make the Mid-season Cut,
- 10 men and five women from the previous year's Challenger Series rankings,
- Three men and two women who were CT surfers that did not requalify for either the CT or the Challenger Series,
- 49 men and 30 women as allocated by the seven WSL regions (Australia/Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe, Hawaii/Tahiti Nui, North America, and Latin America).
- Two World Junior Champions, and Five men's and three women's wildcards per event.
Prize money, which is equal for women and men across the Challenger Series, will also be improved, with a focus on increasing the minimum prize amount in 2023. WSL will be announcing exact details on this when the 2023 Challenger Series schedule is released.
The 2022 Challenger Series will host seven competitions total for the 2022 season, with four of seven results counting toward the year-end Challenger Series Rankings and Championship Tour qualification. The Top 10 men and Top 5 women on the Challenger Series rankings will qualify for the 2023 Championship Tour. The next stops will be the EDP Vissla Pro Ericeira (October 1 - 9, 2022), the Corona Saquarema Pro presented by Banco do Brasil (November 1 - 8, 2022), and the Haleiwa Challenger (November 26 - December 7, 2022).