Which 2-4 CS Surfers Are (Practically) Qualified For Next Year’s CT?
After just 3 of 8 events!
The WSL’s aim in creating the Challenger Series was a noble one.
The CS is intended to streamline athletes’ paths to the CT and save them money previously spent on world travel, while creating a more watchable qualifying tour that fans can actually follow.
Have they succeeded?
In short, I think so.
Sure, the waves haven’t been epic in Manly and Ballito, and pretty much nobody has time to watch a Round of 96 in any sport, let alone sea-jousting, but despite these slight inconveniences, 2022 is the first year I’ve paid any attention to qualifying events.
The viewership numbers for the Gold Coast CS — and the fact that you’re even reading this article — suggest that fans are tentatively interested in the complex path to the Dream Tour, so long as it’s presented in a somewhat palatable way.
That being said, unless you’re 14 and spend your time sending hopeful sponsorship inquiries to Buell, you may not know the exact rankings of the many CS surfers.
And hey, that’s alright.
That’s what we’re here for.
By the Numbers:
Let’s look at last year’s abridged Challenger Series, where athletes kept the best 3 of 4 results, to get a better idea of roughly the point totals needed to make the all-important leap onto the 2023 CT.
This year, only the top 10 Men and the top 5 Women will be qualifying through the Challenger Series, as opposed to the top 12 and top 6 respectively in 2021.
Also, the points for certain placings have changed. In 2022…
– 9th place finish is 3320, instead of 3500 from 2021
– 5th place finish is 4745, instead of 5000 from 2021
– 3rd place finish is 6085, instead of 6500 from 2021
– 2nd place is 7800, instead of 8000
– 1st place is the same (10,000)
Which means that per-event point totals this year will be roughly 5% less than last year. With all of this in mind, I’ll attempt to use last year’s rankings as a metric for the number of points CT hopefuls will need this year in order to qualify. Hopefully I don’t lose anyone in mathematical purgatory.
On the men’s side, we have Joao Chianca, the 10th place qualifying surfer for the 2022 CT, as our benchmark. At the end of the year, he qualified with 11,000 points from his three best events. Taking into account the 5% drop, and ignoring the frightful decimal, that’s just about 3,483 points per event, or roughly a 9th place finish at each comp.
If we multiply that 3,483 per event by the five results that will be retained from the eight events this year, we get 17,415 as the rough estimate for the lowest amount of points needed to qualify for the 2023 Men’s CT.
Back-to back CS (Ballito and Manly) champion Rio Waida is already at 20,750 points, solidly above our estimated cutline. Leo Fioravanti is in second, just below our prediction with 16,915 pennies in the Wozzle bank after three events.
Barring injuries or a monkeypox pandemic, it’s safe to say we’ll see them both at Pipeline next January.
Interesting that these two are potentially the only representatives of their respective countries ever on the CT. Indonesia and Italy rejoice. Bolognese Bagus.
The rest of the Men’s Top 10 looks like this:
(Lord Callum being in the mix makes it 11, but don’t mind him.)
Gatien Delahaye, Stab’s second-favorite Guadeloupe resident, is a new face up here at the top after barging through the competition at Ballito for a second.
None of the men except the top two look particularly steadfast in their positions, and it’s perfectly possible — even likely — that we’ll see a significant rankings mix-up in the next few events, similar to what happened last year.
Just below the cutline looks like this:
Keanu Asing impressively sits at 18th despite having only surfed one event, while Morgan Cibilic peers over the countertop, reaching for the cookie jar.
As for the 12 men who failed to make the Mid-Year cut:
Two are in the top 10:
Ryan Callinan and Leo
Six are in the top 40:
Morgan Cibilic, Deivid Silva, Imaikalani Devault, Frederico Morais, Zeke Lau, and Conner Coffin
The rest are floating in never-never land:
Owen Wright, Lucca Mesinas, Carlos Munoz, and Joao Chianca
Really, an event win — or a few keeper results — from any of the trailing 80-something competitors has the potential to catapult said surfer over the proverbial castle walls. At this point, all of the surfers are mathematically within reach of CT stardom, given some solid surfing. We’re looking at you, Joao and Crosby. Make us proud.
As for the women, we’ll consider India Robinson’s 2021 CS qualification run as the benchmark. The 5th ranked female qualifier, she finished with 17,600 smackeroos (equivalent to 16,720 with the 2022 point system).
Divided by 3 events, that’s about 5,573 points for Gryffindor. AKA, a mix of semi and quarterfinal finishes required.
Take that 5,573 and multiply it by the five counted events this year, and you’ll have a hypothetical 5th place cutline of just about 27,865.
Anyone confused yet?
I’ll continue regardless.
The girl who previously turned down a year on the CT, Caity Simmers, is the surfer nearest that requirement (20,830 biscuits), though Molly Picklum is snapping at her heels (19,700). Just like their male counterparts, the top two women are running away with it. Assuming Caity takes her rightful place on the Dream Tour, I can’t wait to see her at the Banzai. Or pretty much any of the venues.
The top of the women’s rankings look like this:
Once again, anybody’s game. Nobody is out of the picture, even if they’re not featured in the above picture. That being said, there are really only three spots up for grabs, as long as Molly and Caity surf with at least one eye open in the next few events.
As for the 6 Women who failed to make the Mid-Year cut:
One is in the top 5:
3 are in the top 20:
Bettylou Sakura Johnson, Bronte Macaulay, and Luana Silva.
And the rest have just been plucking dandelions:
Malia Manuel and India Robinson.
Looking forward, the remaining events are Huntington, Ericeira, France, Saquarema, and Haleiwa.
Mostly beach breaks, save Haleiwa and Ericeira.
Maybe pumping conditions, likely not. Regular footers will prosper. Can we start a petition to get some left points back on the WSL’s radar? No? Fine.
Despite the WSL’s significant steps towards a watchable qualifying tour, it still isn’t the Dream Tour. No arguing that. At least it makes sense now. And it’s more fun to watch.
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