The fourth stop on the CT is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the first beach break of 2016. Conditions can change dramatically with swell, wind and tide and consistency is no easy feat (since 2012, no Men's surfer has made more than 2 QF appearances). A perfect 10 can pop up to anyone anywhere, so best practice is to stay bearish on the favorites (even within smaller Leagues). But this season, however young, has already been catastrophic to that notion of "favorites." From a fantasy perspective, look to the Brazilians who, as a whole, get a serious boost on their home turf. Last year at Rio, Brazilians posted a 12.71 Average Heat Score (AHS), +1.42 over the rest of the field's 11.29. As a strategy it's certainly no guarantee, but such fanatic support forced the construction of a competitor catwalk to the ocean - a literal bridge over the expected sea of fans. Take advantage of that energy and lean on a few locals.
UPDATE: Slater Out
9 May - Kelly Slater has withdrawn from the Oi Rio Pro. This might disrupt a few teams out there, so make sure you have a full deck when the event kicks off. Slater's replacement, Brazilian Lucas Silveira, will come in as 36th seed under Wildcard trials winner Marco Fernandez; take note, because the draw has shuffled. Overall, projections haven't changed much, but a few beneficiaries have emerged. Analysis below has been updated accordingly.
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Italo Ferreira (Projected 13.02 AHS / 96.67 FP) - Italo Ferreira almost broke fourteen with a 13.97 beach break average last year, and Rio was his first big rookie success. Cruising through the SF for 94.5 Fantasy Points (FP), he finished in fourth place. Ferreira's event AHS was only 12.98, so a beach break average at nearly a full point higher suggests greater potential. The most recent draw puts him against Miguel Pupo and Bino Lopes, increasing his Round 1 odds nearly 15% (now 73.4% favored). Thank you, Kelly.
Odds - 7:1
Caio Ibelli (Projected 11.25 AHS / 73.14 FP) - Caio Ibelli was projected for the best overall results of this year's rookie class, and through three events he's on pace for a top-ten finish. That's a hotter start than last year's Rookie of the Year Italo Ferreira, who had his first big performance at Rio. While ownership percentages in Tier A are expected to be a smooth distribution, Ibelli may lag behind more established favorites as a slight hedge. This tier doesn't have a clear Sleeper and the winner is projected to come from Tier B; payoff could be as early as the QF. Ibelli is not among those positively impacted by the new draw, dropping to 37.1% favored against John John Florence and Matt Banting. Still, he's one of the better projections in Tier A.
Odds - 37:1
Kolohe Andino (Projected 12.63 AHS / 74.52 FP) - Another notable option in Tier A is Kolohe Andino. He's projected for more points than Caio Ibelli and has a more favorable seed, but there may be more risk with his consistency. Small sample size, but he's finished 2-25-5 to start the year (10.67 average, trending to 13.67), compared to Ibelli's 9-9-5 (7.67 average, trending to 3.67). After Italo Ferreira, Kolohe and Caio have the best projections in the respective tier, so either one is a viable second pick as they're both very close. Andino posted an above-average 12.74 beach break AHS last season.
Odds - 30:1
Gabriel Medina (Projected 14.32 AHS / 118.16 FP) - Gabriel Medina had a poor start last season - tallying an ice cold 133.48 FP through a quiet Australian leg. While Brazil didn't get him back on track, it has potential to serve him much better this time around. Medina's 14.32 beach break AHS was the best on tour last year and now he's got a hint of momentum; Gabriel has finished 13-13-9 through CT #3 and trending to 7.67. Like most others, results here are scattered, but he's been one of the top score producers in the Wild Wild West of beach breaks. New draw is a slight hit, dropping him to 62.3% favored (from 74%), but it shouldn't deter you from the pickup.
Odds - 5:1
Filipe Toledo (Projected 13.41 AHS / 95.41 FP) - After missing the last two events due to injury, Filipe Toledo is both an exciting and risky Tier B option. The pros include him torching everyone last year, winning the event with a 16.75 AHS for 132.86 FP (event runner-up Bede Durbidge only chalked up 110.83 FP - that's a huge performance gap). Toledo also jumped out to a hot start this year at Gold Coast, taking third place after an injury shorted his SF potential. And that's the con - it's unclear what Toledo looks like coming back from an injury, or how he'll perform after a few weeks removed from the lineup. This is also a big spot if Filipe wants to contend for the World Title - he's essentially taken his two event drops. The arena and crowd energy may drive him to push his limits as well, which is risky if he's not back to 100%. The good news is that even at 85%, Toledo can win Rio.
Odds - 12:1
Adriano de Souza (Projected 13.8 AHS / 115.52 FP) - Adriano de Souza now leads Tier B in Round 1 odds at 73.4% favored. While the Wildcard seed remains, Slater's withdraw exchanged Jadson Andre for Keanu Asing - an on-paper plus. Adriano's off to a sluggish start this year, though, with only 172.51 FP. That's well above the CT average of 122.65, but low as defending World Champion. Look for De Souza to pick up the pace in Brazil, where his 15.9 event AHS last year was second only to Filipe Toledo. A lackluster 48.43 FP was a tough-luck total - given that outstanding average - and while Adriano last won Rio in 2011, he's more than capable of doing it again.
Odds - 5:1
Jeremy Flores (Projected 12.04 AHS / 73.08 FP) - Flores, who had been reseeded to face Kelly in Round 1, now draws Josh Kerr and Adam Melling. He's 54.9% favored to win this heat and will be of tremendous value if he can cash near his projected line. Last year wasn't an outstanding performance; Jeremy only posted 39.57 FP and hasn't made the QF since a SF berth in 2011, but the projection suggests value, especially if the rest of your picks are tier standards.
Odds - 38:1
Matt Banting (Projected 12.01 AHS / 74.22 FP) - Matt Banting came to play in Brazil last year, tallying 64.03 FP. His 11.85 event AHS isn't exactly encouraging, but he still made Round 5. The grain of salt here (and continuing subtext) is that his (or anyone's) solid performance may have resulted from perfect place/perfect time at the beach break. That's not to say Banting isn't a threat, and with the new star-power around him in Tier C, he might be one of the better values for Rio. He just needs to reach Round 4 again. New heat draw actually has him favored 37.4% over John John Florence and Caio Ibelli, so he get's a boost.
Odds - 34:1
Jadson Andre (Projected 11.75 AHS / 61.25 FP) - The new draw has eliminated a Round 1 conflict with Adriano de Souza and Jadson Andre is a full go for Tier C. Besides calling Brazil his home country, he's right up there with Matt Banting in projected points. Now he'll face Matt Wilkinson in Heat 5, but Wilko is only projected for a 9.52 AHS and 19.28 FP (if you're shocked by that, think about how normal that may have been just two short months ago). By no means is this a risk-free pick - Jadson is yet another surfer returning from injury - but Rio was his best event last year, finishing 5th with 87.27 FP.
Odds - 38:1
Be sure to check out Ross Williams' Fantasy Insights straight from the beach, including a great comparison of Postinho vs. Grumari.
Hope that helps get your team ready for the Oi Rio Pro, starting on 10 May. If you want to chat fantasy, come say hello on Twitter: @FantasyWSL and @RossWilliamsHI. Good luck and see you on the leaderboard!