In terms of selecting a lineup for WSL Fantasy Surfing, Margaret River might be the most fickle of spots. Different surfers will perform better at The Box while others will surf better at Main Break, so it's a gamble. When it came to your Fantasy successes -- and backslides -- for the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, heat location ultimately had a major impact. Here's the breakdown of how the world's best fared in the heavy surf, and what it means for your Fantasy game.
Margaret River featured some shocking early exits. A couple of one-and-dones were reigning World Champ Gabriel Medina (BRA) and incoming World No. 1 Filipe Toledo (BRA), both of whom were eliminated in Round 2. Toledo rounded out Fantasy rankings near the bottom of the pack, hurting a number of Team Managers in the process.
But the biggest Tier A shockers were Nat Young (USA) and Adriano de Souza (BRA). It wasn't that they didn't perform well -- both put up good numbers at Bells -- but rather that Young was only started by 3 percent of managers and De Souza by 15 percent. If your friend is out front, chances are he picked the Santa Cruz kid and the new Jeep rankings leader.
There were also some movers among the ranks. After a slow start in 2015, John John Florence (HAW) finally showed up at Championship Tour (CT) Stop No. 3, boasting the highest overall point total, even though he finished runner-up. Michel Bourez (PYF), a Tier C pick for Margaret's, fought his way to a Quarterfinal finish and the seventh-highest overall point total. With this result, Bourez has climbed his way up to Tier B for the next contest.
Additional Notes: Tier B's Jeremy Flores (FRA) was a standout performer, as was Tier C's Adrian Buchan (AUS), who made his first Round 3 appearance of the season at Margaret River. World No. 5 Jordy Smith (ZAF) was also eliminated in Round 3, after suffering an injury during a freesurf. World No. 2 Mick Fanning (AUS), meanwhile, failed Team Managers after he, like Medina, went down early at the hands of local wildcard Jay Davies.
Tour leader Carissa Moore (HAW)'s two-event winning streak was halted at the hands (and feet) of Conlogue at Margaret River. Yet while she wasn't victorious at the Women's Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, unsurprisingly, Moore still topped all other competitors -- including event champ Courtney Conlogue (USA) -- in Fantasy points. She also had her highest start-rate of the season, at 44 percent.
Conlogue was a heavy-hitter at the event, but was only started by 35 percent of Fantasy Team Managers for Tier B. After winning the Margies contest, the Californian will be in Tier A for the next event, the Oi Rio Women's Pro. But with Moore still finishing as the higher points-earner and only one choice per team for Tier A, is one win convincing enough to pick Conlogue for Brazil?
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) withdrew from the contest before her Round 4 heat due to a fracture she suffered during a freesurf. Forty-two percent of Fantasy teams had picked the reigning World Champ -- but her early exit meant that she left the event with just 28.33 for Tier A. (As a point of comparison, Moore finished with 117.39.) Unfortunately, Gilmore's injury will keep her out of the contest in Rio, which will likely see more fans choosing between Conlogue and Moore.
For Consideration: Conlogue has a slice of time to practice back home in California, in beachbreaks that bear a striking resemblance to that in Rio.
Among the women, two of the Top 17's dark horses were Tier B's Malia Manuel (HAW) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW). Started by 10 percent and 14 percent respectively, the Hawaiians finished at No. 4 and No. 6 in event Fantasy points. Weston-Webb in particular is proving to be a consistent threat on the elite Tour, finding herself in the Top 10 of the women's CT rankings with just three events in her rookie season.
Tier C is one of the trickiest selections to make. Any one of these women has the ability to force an upset, but Alessa Quizon (HAW) has been a solid asset in the last two events, surfing better and better as the season unfolds. But Quizon tends to do best in waves that are heavier, like those on home turf. For Tier C in Rio, you might consider a surfer who stands a good chance to perform well in the beachbreaks of Brazil.