Surf Fans And Athletes Urge WSL To #PutMaseInTheMasters - Stab Mag
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Mason is always finding the weird ones, and we love it. Photo: WSL

Surf Fans And Athletes Urge WSL To #PutMaseInTheMasters

Mason Ho is the fiscally responsible wildcard decision.

news // Jan 20, 2022
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 4 minutes

A WSL Championship Tour event includes 36 male competitors, 34 of which are full-time CT surfers.

The other two are “event wildcards”.

While the situation varies from comp to comp, generally speaking, one event wildcards goes to a local trials winner and the other is given to the event’s main sponsor.

For the 2022 Billabong Masters Pro Pipeline, the two male wildcards will be Hawaii’s Barron Mamiya and Peru’s Miguel Tudela.

Barron earned his spot by placing second to John Florence (who is already on the CT) in the recent HIC Pipeline Pro, which served as the local trials for this year’s event. This will be Barron’s third CT appearance and second Pipe Masters. His best result thus far is a 25th.

Miguel got his spot via his sponsor Billabong, who chose the Peruvian because: 1. their local stud, Josh Moniz, is still recovering from his incident at Supertubos, and 2. Miguel actually qualified for the 2021 Pipe Masters via the trials, but was injured in the first round and forced to withdraw. This will be the first CT start of Miguel’s career, however, he did compete in the 2021 Olympic Games.

While these wildcard surfers have been locked in for quite some time, the WSL recently published a gallery on their Instagram, highlighting the fact that Barron and Miguel (along with the female wildcard Moana Wong) would be competing in the Pipe CT on January 29.

That opened up the floodgates to a horde of passionate commenters.

It’s happening.

While some users were quick to prop up the current wildcard selections (Moana and Barron in particular), another group was adamant that the WSL had missed an obvious wildcard inclusion — recent Backdoor Shootout winner, Electric Acid Surfboard Test co-star, and currently the Stab Surfer of the Year number four, Mason Ho.

With the two male wildcards already announced, the WSL isn’t in a position to take an opportunity away from Barron or Miguel. That means in order for Mason to get in, another surfer has to get out.

We already know that Ryan Callinan is recovering from wrist surgery following an early-January air gone awry. When we spoke with Ryan, he said it was tentative whether or not he would surf in the Pipe event.

“It’s still a bit up in the air at the moment,” Ryan concluded.

Jordy get your gun. Photo: WSL

We also spoke with Jordy Lawler, the first surfer off the 2021 Challenger Series cutline, who bought a ticket to Hawaii the minute he’d heard Ryan’s prognosis. In Jordy’s mind, should Ryan not be well enough to compete in the event, he would be an obvious choice for the WSL to give the open Pipe spot.

Officially, if Ryan pulls out, the decision of his replacement goes to the WSL’s Tours and Competition office. They can choose anyone they please, from Jordy Lawler to Kala Grace to Stab‘s own Big Dick Power Surfer. And all of those would be great choices. But probably not as great as Mason Ho.

Mason’s credentials at Pipe speak for themselves. He obviously won last week’s Backdoor Shootout — and another in 2015 — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Mason has also made two finals in the Volcom Pipe Pro, one of which saw him finish in a Florence-Slater sandwich (Mason beat Kelly but lost to John), and he’s a standout in just about every winter session out there.

But it’s not just freesurfs, Q’s, and Pipe specialty events that Mason has excelled in — he’s also beaten the CT boys at their own game, nabbing a 3rd at the 2015 Pipe Masters, and in the process creating one of the most viral WSL moments of all time, before the WSL grabbed some tissues and wiped it off the internet for good.

If you know, you know.

But at the end of the day, the WSL is a business, and they must always look after their bottom line. And the bottom line is, making Mason Ho a Pipeline wildcard would be a great financial decision for the League, who directly benefit from increased viewership of their events.

How would Mason provide that kind of value? I’ve got just one stat for you:

In the midst of our 2022 Stab Surfer of the Year poll, we asked our Stab Premium subscribers to submit their votes. The prompt was simple: which surfers inspired you most this year?

Whose name do you think was on the majority of people’s lists?

Not John, not Gab, not Italo, not Kelly, no. It was Mason Ho — the number one voted surfer from the most critical and considerate fans in the world, all of whom (time-zone permitting) would tune into the Pipe Masters to watch Mason compete.

More eyeballs = more sponsorship dollars = more time that Ziff can continue defending this whole thing to his accountant. So make the right decision, WSL Tours and Competition office. Give Mason a go.

Meanwhile, somewhere in an ice bath, Koa Smith is wondering what the fuck happened to Zeke Lau’s Ultimate Surfer slots.

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