As the dust settles and the points are tallied up, the future is starting to look like a crazy place. Next up on what seems like the fastest year on the Championship Tour ever is the Outerknown Fiji Pro, and it’s an event that deserves some serious examination.

The idea that a tiny brand like Outerknown could afford an event of this magnitude simply lends itself to conspiracy theories. It’s probably as simple as a discount, a payment plan, a trade exchange or something equally as benign, but it sure got the trolls animated. Those darn trolls eh, they’re always crapping on about something.

Wouldn't we love to see the top 34 sent out in something like this? Photo: Scholtz WSL

Shouldn't matter too much to Kelly Slater though. The Outerknown Fiji Pro marketing campaign is well underway, there are links to the brand’s online shop all over the place, and he’s not even going to be there from all accounts. Back injury that has been nagging him forever and a day has finally called in a few favours and asked to be treated, with urgency. The man was out for Rio, and will most likely be out for Fiji, with JBay still having a Kelly question mark hanging over it. For a guy who decided to have a final crack at another world title and subsequently had to shelve that concept, it seems unlikely that this will be the end. An injury exit is not a fitting, final act for Kelly and when he heals he’ll pull the jersey back on straight away

While Kelly’s absence at Fiji will be noted, Filipe’s non-attendance will garner a different sort of attention. Currently rated 8th on the Jeep leader Board, his fining and subsequent banning from one event could play a big part in his campaign, as it would any Championship Tour competitor. Storming the tower is so 90s these days; Filipe should rather have chosen a cyber-attack on the computer system or at least something as crafty as a few samples of salmonella in the judges’ food.   

In his absence, the three surfers tied for second place are set to make big moves on the yellow jersey. Fiji will most definitely split the triumvirate and might also lead to a swapping out of jerseys with current leader JJF.

Good money must surely rest on Owen Wright to do the best of the three, with the lanky goofy footer so at home and at ease in thick, roping lefts. He has impressed there before, and should he find himself in barreling conditions he will most likely cruise through to a good result at Fiji ahead of the other two. He did win the event after all in 2015.

Adriano is the next best surfer in Fiji, according to contest results, with two quarterfinals over the last three years. If it gets nice and solid at Cloudbreak and he gets a chance to crank into some of those rail grab backhand bottom turns, he could do well to impress the judges and get the big score. He sometimes seems a little lackluster when Restaurants turns on, but on such a perfect wave he should have no problem upping his game and reclaiming his dynamism here.

Will Adriano's backside body-torque be enough to claim him the yellow jersey in Fiji.?Photo: WSL

Jordy on the other hand hasn't had a good result in Fiji for a few years, yet has started to show such incredible affinity with the place in free surfs and in heats. His backhand tube riding has been the biggest improvement in his act, and he now goes out to hunt those left barrels in heats and when surfing around his hometown. He knows what he needs to do to win this event and if he sticks to his game plan he could be arriving in J-Bay adorned in yellow for a heroes welcome.