Ross Williams spent 10 years as a Word Championship Tour (WCT) competitor. He is a current ASP analyst and contributes a Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Fantasy surfing column for each event on the elite Tour. Set your lineup for the upcoming Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal at fantasy.aspworldtour.com.
When I'm picking my Fantasy lineup, the first thing I look at is the wave. Supertubos is pretty similar to Hossegor. So, do you bother changing your team? If you believe in momentum and the power of confidence you better do some shuffling. The punchy beachbreak in Portugal will provide tubes and ramps, but it won't show mercy for the mentally fragile. Here's my take on who is rolling through the European leg with a big smile and a ton of moxie.
John John Florence (HAW)
Hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. I'm perfectly happy to leave JJ as my top pick. Last I checked, before the closing of the Quik Pro France only six percent of you had JJ on your team. I understand he has been a little inconsistent, especially at the start of the year, but he's turned himself into a regular contest machine as of late. Combining his free-surf spirit with savvy decision-making has helped him go third, second and first in his last three starts! As for his style of surfing and wave at Supertubos, it's a perfect match. Obviously the barrels there lend themselves to John John's strengths. But even if conditions are on the small side, this break offers crazy ramps on every wave. Can you say boost?! Start 'em.
Julian Wilson (AUS)
The Tour is a long grind, and the European leg is a lengthy one, causing many people to crack. When you're competing, you need to be fresh and motivated. By this point in the 2014 season, any feelings of being jaded or burnt from hotels, scores, a nemesis maybe, makes people buckle. What's my point? Julian has many reasons to be over it right now, mainly because of his poor results, but I have a feeling he will turn the ship around in Portugal. His level of surfing is way too high not to. And Portugal will bring back positive memories, since he won here just a couple of years ago. The punchy ramp-fest will be perfect for his surfing. Start 'em.
Travis looked like he had the goods to take down Kelly Slater in their Round 2 matchup in France but came up just short. His surfing looked fast and sharp. Travis seems like he has a real grip on his position in the ratings, realizing he needs to get work done but is, ultimately, okay with it. He doesn't seem rattled. In Portugal, going into his first round heat against Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW) and Taj Burrow (AUS), he has a very realistic chance at winning. Give the fired-up South African a chance -- you may be surprised at the points he could gain in the crunchy shore-pound. Start 'em.
Michel Bourez (BRA)
The Spartan is obviously a strong dude. The wave at Supertubos is also strong, making the double-positive turn negative. Although Michel won at a similar wave in Rio, many people tend to believe his surfing shines on open-face waves. Supertubos curves have tight transitions, which can handcuff his extended hacks. Michel seemed out of sorts in France, which may or may not help reset him competitively in Portugal. For a Tier A pick, Michel is high risk. Sit 'em.
Kai Otton (AUS)
Kai has a lot of attributes to start more than he does to sit. He's focused, motivated, smart and, best of all, he's still ripping. But there's one thing I don't like in terms of putting him on your team for Portugal: His first round matchup is against Gabriel Medina (BRA). Gabby has a huge advantage over Kai: He's sharp and you can guarantee he will expose any weakness Otton has by leading the charge in the ramp-fest. Kai can win any heat he suits up for, but if you're going to a gunfight you'd be better off with the deadliest one. Sit 'em.
Adam Melling (AUS)
Adam is doing well on the Qualification Series, all but ensuring his spot on the WCT next year. I have a feeling he knows this year is sort of finished for him, and he will give the big kids a better run in 2015, maybe even redraft his entire game. He will need to find something as he looked a little out of sorts this year and, quite frankly, out-matched in many heats. Adam has amazing fundamentals and can destroy many guys on Tour when compared skill-for-skill. He just needs to find a way to not only shine more but to improve in places like Tahiti and Fiji. Hopefully, he'll grab another solid result in the Prime contest in Cascais, and then you can give Adam a rest. Sit 'em.
Dion Atkinson (AUS)
Watch Dion's Round 3 heat against Mick Fanning (AUS) on the Quik Pro Heat Analyzer. He found a new gear! So amazing, if you think about how difficult it is at this stage in his career to actually up his level of surfing. Maybe a new shred-sled from JR surfboards inspired him. Or maybe he just had a few too many espressos. Whatever the case was, he was fired up. If he can carry that performance and spice over to Portugal, I wouldn't be surprised for him to take it deep into the draw. Start 'em.
Williams provides up-to-date information for ASP Fantasy each morning at 7:30 a.m. local time on the Dawn Patrol Morning Show. Set your Fantasy surfing picks and watch the action unfold LIVE. The event window for the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal is October 12-23, 2014.