Can Gabby Win A World Title Only Surfing Half The Season? - Stab Mag
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I wouldn't bet the house on it. Photo by WSL

Can Gabby Win A World Title Only Surfing Half The Season?

We crunched the numbers.

features // Apr 24, 2022
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 3 minutes

There’s 10 events this CT season plus Final’s day. 

Anyone who finishes those ten events with a rank of #5 or higher will be invited to the ‘Superbowl’ playoffs at Lowers where anyone in the draw has a shot of taking home the title. On Monday, the WSL announced today that 3x World Champ Gabriel Medina will be granted a 2022 season wildcard for the second half of the men’s Championship Tour starting at the Quiksilver Pro G-Land. 

“Gabriel is officially the men’s WSL Season wildcard for all competitions following the Mid-season Cut and with this wildcard, Gabriel will be eligible to qualify for the WSL Final 5,” announced Renato Hickel, WSL Director of Tours and Competition. So the short answer to the question of can Gabby win a World Title this year is ‘Yes’. 

But here’s why it is incredibly unlikely. 

Possible, but highly unlikely. Photo by Jimmy Wilson

Last season the WSL only ran seven CT events, with a surfer’s top five results counting. This season, CT competitors will be ranked on their best four-out-of-five results before the mid-season cut, allowing them to drop one result before CT stop number six. The advancing surfers will be ranked on their best nine-out-of-10 results from the season (with all events after the mid-season cut counting) to determine the WSL Final 5.

In other words, in this 22’ season nine-out-of-ten event results will count, and given Gabs can only surf in five of them, every other surfer will have a four event head start on him in the rankings and he won’t be able to drop a score. 

Last year, the lowest ranked male qualifier for Final’s day was CT rookie, Morgan Cibilic who collected 25,270 points from his top five results. For Morgz, that means he averaged 5,054 points per scoring event to make Final’s day. If we imagine that the fifth qualifier for this season’s finals day has roughly comparable scoring results per event over nine contests that works out to be a total of 45,486 points to take out the fifth spot for Lowers. 

So what does that mean Gabby needs to do?

Things to notice here. 1.) Gabriel’s 12,665 point margin between himself and second. 2.) Morgan Cibilic, the last qualifier for Final’s day median score after his throwaway was 4,745 points or a quarter-finals finish at every event.

The point spread for 2022 is:

  • 1st: 10,000 points
  • 2nd: 7,800 points
  • 3rd: 6,085 points
  • 5th: 4,745 points
  • 9th: 3,320 points
  • 17th: 1,330 points
  • 33rd: 265 points

If Gabs wants to make it to the ~45,000 point Final’s day threshold it will require him winning four-out-of-five events after the mid-season cut, and place no worse than 3rd in the remaining event. When Gabby won his third title last year, it was one of the most commanding seasons professional surfing has ever seen. Gabs made five-out-of-seven finals, won two of them, and put a 12,665 point margin between himself and second… Were it not for the Final’s day format changes Gabs’ could’ve gone on holiday during the last event and still taken the title.

Of course, none of that mattered come Final’s day when it all hinged on beating Fil Toledo in a best of three surf-off, but it did mean something to core fans, who would’ve found it criminal had anyone other than Gabby lifted the trophy.

If Gabs wants to clinch his fourth title this year, he would need to achieve something more remarkable than his performance last season in the 5 CT’s from G-Land to Tahiti, and then go on to beat four of the best surfers from this season in a single day. 

So can Gabby win the World Title this year? Yes he can. 

Will Gabby win the World Title this year? Wouldn’t bet da house on it.

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