Time to lock in your teams for Oi Rio Pro. This event will be one of the trickiest in terms of picking a lineup so here are some things to consider.
Postinho (now the backup site) and Grumari (the main site) are two totally different waves. Postinho is known for being a punchy, powerful and even hollow; great for guys that love thick, little shacks and punting to the air. Grumari, on the other hand, is a wave-rich, cove-like zone essentially. It's harder to surf with a lot of swell and has a tendency to break further out than Postinho. The surf can be a bit softer but tends to change day to day with the sandbanks moving around.
So read the forecast: The size of the waves predicted can be another good indicator for choosing your team. The waves have been pounding Brazil lately but the forecast as of now looks smallish, which should favor the nimble. Another major factor will be the energy from the crowd. Just like any athlete in a "home" game, Brazilian surfers will be lapping it up, using this boost to psyche up when needed.
Tier A Picks: Kolohe Andino and Italo Ferreira
Both of these guys have had success in Brazil: Kolohe a runner-up finish in 2014 and Italo finished equal third last year. Generally you'll see tough conditions at this event for guys who need space to perform at their best. The cramped, cupped-out waves on these beachbreaks present a technical platform. Most times you will see guys relying on moves above the lip simply due to the fact that the face of the wave has a very tight transition. Kolohe and Italo have no problem in these types of waves, knowing that they can break up and out of those "handcuffed" situations. Both of these surfers are on a roll right now as well, producing solid results in Oz. But the big "W" is still eluding them is maintaining a strong appetite to win.
Tier B Picks: Filipe Toledo, John John Florence, Adriano de Souza and Gabriel Medina
Starting Filipe is a minor risk due to the fact that this is his first event back after suffering a groin injury on the Gold Coast. All reports are that he's feeling good, but we will know exactly how good he's feeling when he goes for a big air and sticks it in the flats. Still, he's too good to not have on your team, especially when the forecast looks favorable for the whipper snappers.
Remember our 2015 World Champ? I know, how easily we forget. Stacking up poor results would normally tell you to steer clear of a surfer, but ADS is too tenacious and savvy to shun. He needs to find his confidence. If he can get past the early rounds I believe he will return to the form that we saw last year.
John John has the type of surfing that really lends itself to the typical conditions for Brazil. Airs, tubes and agility are his strong suits. Combine this with his drive to find his inner beast with a jersey on and JJ becomes one of the favorites all year long, let a lone here in Brazil.
Gabby has dug himself into a bit of a hole this season but we all know that he's more than capable of turning it around. I like it when Gabby is forced to go big and the beaches in Brazil will encourage him to do just that. Big moves and big crowds equals a brave and confident Medina. Look for him to officially start his Title campaign in this event.
Tier C Picks: Ryan Callinan and Jack Freestone
Jack, like Filipe, is coming off a serious injury so he'll be a little bit of a risky pick. But if he can produce his usual brand of surfing, his chances in the punchy surf in Rio will be good for a solid result. Jack is one of the new guns that can successfully go really big above the lip with ease. If the surf is tricky and closing out, guys like Jack can get big scores with one move.
I've yet to start Ryan Callinan this year. I like him. He's a cool kid, he rips and he's gnarly in the air -- like really good at boosting. This event is going to be ramped up so you might want to stack your players accordingly.