Medina, Slater, Fanning and John John Florence face off at Pipeline.
The world title race has become genuinely exciting. Gabriel Medina, Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and John John Florence could be fighting for the world title at Pipeline. Two events ago we yawned at the endless hyperbole about how Medina would become the first Brazilian world champion. Debate ensued! Some spewed hatred, we speculated and Rip Curl supposedly shipped a batch of ‘Medina Wins 2014 World Title’ t-shirts to the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
With two more heats of round 3 to run in Portugal we thought we’d break down the world title scenarios as it stands after one of the biggest weekends in pro surfing this year.
Now with Parko and Taj falling in round two their hopes are dashed for 2014. For Taj it means another year goes by without a world title.
Mick still has to surf his round 2 heat against Alejo and do the following to win the world title.
- He would need to place second or better in Portugal.
- He needs to win Pipe, Kelly to do no better than second and Medina to catch a 13th.
- That scenario relies on John John not winning the next two events, which we will get to now.
If John John wins in Portugal & the Pipe Masters and Medina places fifth or worse in Hawaii JJF will win the world title. It’s an outrageous prospect but the kid is on fire and stranger shit has happened.
At Pipe Medina needs to make the semis and get a third place finish to secure the world title. If he only makes the quarters or worse his victory hinges on a couple of things.
- John John not winning Portugal and Pipe.
- Kelly not winning Pipe.
- Mick not winning Portugal or placing second and winning the Pipe Masters.
Slater’s loss to Aritz straight after Medina’s heat stunned everyone. The previous day he had landed a 540, named it a ‘Huey’ air, and reminded everyone that he is a 42-year-old freak. If anyone was feeling it in Portugal, it was Kelly. But his round 3 loss doesn’t count him out of the world title.
Kelly needs to win the Pipe Masters and rely upon a couple other results to go his way.
- Medina needs to finish no higher than 9th or lose in round 3.
- Obviously John John not winning Portugal and Pipe.
- Mick not placing second or better in Portugal or winning the Pipe Masters.
And if you think he has forgotten how to crush dreams on Hawaiian soil remember the 6x Pipe Master has produced two impossible come from behind world title victories before in his career.
In 1995 Sunny Garcia was poised to win a world title. Sunny needed to advance to round three. Instead he had the mother of all shockers against Occy and exited in round 2. Meanwhile Kelly surfed his way into contention all the way to the final. Kelly drew the groovy Californian, Rob Machado, who famously slapped the Floridian a high-five, submitted the title and wrote another chapter in surf history.
In 1998 against young Australians Mick Campbell and Danny Wills the script unfolded perfectly for Slater. Cambo and Willsy were both in contention for a world title but had little experience at Pipe. When 12 foot third reef Pipe greeted the pair the odds quickly began to stack against them. Kelly needed to make the semis, which he did, winning the event in a rematch against Machado.
If you were a betting man you’d be forgiven for letting it ride on Kelly. He thrives on a challenge and before him is an almighty one. He knows Pipe, what it’s like to be in a world title race and although he’s got his poker face on you can bet he’s done the calculations.
Medina will be feeling the pressure in Hawaii. This is it, prove the haters wrong and make history or fold at the enormity of the task at hand. Whatever happens the ASP must be quietly licking their lips at the prospect of a four horse race at surfing’s Mecca.
Note: These scenarios have been calculated on the current points mid event at the Moche Rip Curl Pro Peniche.