With a new ASP season in underway, surf fans have plenty to look forward to this year. The Andy-Kelly rivalry, new improved webcasts and once again the chance to win huge prizes (like, say, an exotic boat trip for two) and bragging rights in SURFER Magazine's own Fantasy Surfer contest, which has been kicked into high gear this year thanks to Boost Mobile. The game is deceptively simple: Sign up and you get $50 million to purchase a team of at least 8 surfers. So long as you stay under your salary cap, you can trade your surfers at will before each event. As the season progresses, you can even hang on to team members who have increased in value, effectively raising your cap. During each WCT contest your team members accrue points based on their performance.
Just by signing up and creating your own team, you're already competing against thousands of other surf fans for the top prizes, but you can also join or form a clubhouse reserved exclusively to you and your friends. Sound easy enough, right? Well it is, but before you start dreaming of drifting into paradise, understand that this game is very competitive and thus requires a bit of strategy. With that in mind we offer you a few expert tips to consider during your new quest to become the Fantasy Surfer Champion in 2007.
Avoid Premature Evaluation:
The ASP often waits until just a few days before an event to release the heat draws, and this is crucial information for any Fantasy Surfer player. Analyzing the draw guarantees that your choices won't knock each other into round two, increasing their likelihood of early elimination. Taking a look at the match-ups also allows a view of potential mismatches that can be utilized for your benefit (i.e. an undervalued Pipe specialist facing three Brazilian, small wave, aerial surfers in the first round at huge second reef pipe.) Waiting until the last few days before an event also allows for a scan of the forecast, which could greatly effect contest outcome. A surfer with some serious balls, but lacking in the smaller stuff, would be a great choice if Teahupoo is off the richter, but a disaster if the surf remains small. Conversely a small wave specialist loses half their value if faced with out of control conditions. Put every surfer into context for each event to maximize point scoring.
The Dark Horse Wins the Race:
The seeding in pro surfing, like any sport, is designed to match the top rated guys against the lower half of the ladder. It seems like every contest, however, several of the underdogs sneak through with an upset. Your ability to predict these upsets will ultimately guide the success of your team. Last year Shaun Cansdell took second place in Fiji, and Bobby Martinez ended up winning two events, both as rookies. These guys would have been highly affordable before their breakout results, so try to pick an undervalued asset to provide the most return on your investment. By the same token don't overload on the high priced individuals. The more of those on your team the more devastating an early round loss would be for your team, as you would subsequently be forced to load up on really cheap guys who most likely won't advance as far. A good mid-range buy shows potential for growth whereas the highest priced guys often don't increase in value at the first sign of success. To put it simply: pick Andy or Kelly, but not both.
Location, Location, Location:
Look at the venue and pick your team accordingly. Local status transcends pro surfing, and if a mediocre guy has his spot completely wired then he will most likely be a good investment. Chris Ward had an unpredictable season in 2006 but finished 5th at Trestles, his home break. Sean Holmes defeated Andy Irons at J-Bay as a wildcard several times due to his intimate knowledge of the break, and phenom Jordy Smith finished third at J-Bay in 2006 even though he wasn't a competitor on the WCT. Mick, Parko and Dean Morrison grew up on the Gold Coast and will be practically guaranteed top picks if the surf is on at event number one. Beware of picking wildcards, however, as they rarely escape the third round (except at Pipeline where the often undervalued locals may be just the ticket to boost your Fantasy Surfer team with minimal expediture).
Extrapolation Makes it Happen:
So you have SURFER Magazine's top 44 review in front of you and you're familiar with every surfer on tour. Wake up call: everyone in the U.S. has access to those resources. It is your ability to interpret the information that will separate you from an average goon to champion armchair competitor. Look how top guys' stances have affected their performance at rights and lefts in the past, find out which surfers have struggled in specific conditions and see who has benefited. Chances are it will happen again. It's no coincidence that Andy Irons and Kelly Slater are multiple Pipeline Masters, and it's no fluke that Occy has dominated at Bells for decades. History repeats itself in a major way and it's up to you to predict how the events will unfold this time. Sifting through and interpreting these details correctly will lead to success and, who knows, maybe even a boat trip for two…