First I'll answer a couple questions…
What the hell is a Moche?
Glad you asked. It's a pre-Incan culture that flourished on the coast of Peru in the 1st to 7th centuries AD. But in this case "It’s a youth-focused telecommunications company (think Boost Mobile) that’s owned by the giant TMN (think AT&T)."
What does that have to do with a surf contest?
Rip Curl consistently hosts WCT events and spend little-to-no money while doing it. Their genius plan of attack: make someone else pay the bill. Whether that's a government tourism board, Ford, Snickers, Moche, etc… Rip Curl knows they're the only brand people remember when it comes to the event. It's crucial because World Title bonuses aren't cheap and they dish out quite a few of those.
Can Gabriel Medina win the World Title now?
He sure can. If he wins the event, it's over. Riots in the streets of Brazil. There's a bunch of other scenarios but I won't bore you with that. Let's get to the picks! —Jimmicane
Gabriel Medina's future worst nightmare might start sooner than he’d think. This will be the next truly great rivalry in surfing, and goddamn have we needed one for a while! After stumbling out of the gates, Johnathan struck like a cobra — 3rd, 2nd and 1st in the past three events. He’s now a long shot to win the World Title and if nothing else, act as spoiler. If you haven't seen the episode of #TOURNOTES where JJF candidly expresses his feelings toward Medina, I highly suggest you give it a look. Slater asks, "If we both make the final you better let me win. I need some points." Johnny responds with, "I just might. Just because…"
…because he does not like Medina. Why? Because all Gabriel does is win, and sometimes when he does not win, he cries. Meanwhile all JJF does is surf, and surf better than anyone in this world ever has. He’s clearly better than Medina but as you know, the best surfer does not always place 1st. John will need a miracle to win the 2014 World Title, but carrying this roll into Portugal should come easy.
This is a true passion pick as I don't have the same belief in Slater that I’ve had the past 20 years of my life. I just hope he wins to keep this thing interesting in Hawaii. Crowning a World Champion in Portugal is the most boring thing ever. Titles should be won at Pipe, not Peniche. I'd be impressed if someone won in France, because that's straight domination. Otherwise, bring it to Hawaii!
I'm picking against…
Even if Medina goes 'Rory in the 2011 Masters' and chokes, he'll still bounce back and win multiple World Titles in his career. Hell, he's not even 21 years old yet. On one hand, I don't think this kid feels pressure but on the other, I know he's human and this is a big fucking deal. Last year's event winner Kai Otton and a wildcard/giant killer Jacob Wilcox match up with him in Round 1. Weird things can happen, especially at a moody place like Peniche. Someone please take Freak Boy out!
When the pressure is off, Jordy comes alive. It's a shame for him to sit outside of the Elite bracket given his talent, but not at all a surprise. Two events left to build a roll and act like next year is "the one" again.
I've liked the way Miggy's been surfing all year but he can’t seem to catch a break. He finally hit rock bottom in Tahiti, losing to Mitch Crews and slipping into a board-punching tantrum. Then Pupo bounced back, sneaking through a couple heats at Lowers and ripping in France all the way to the quarterfinals. Miggy's heating up.
Nat has lived in the top 10 since he's been on tour and sitting in 13th right now must be eating him inside. Four straight events without making Round 4 is just plain weird for this guy. He final'd in Peniche last year and I know there's not a person on tour who will out-work Natty. The kid will be locked in a hotel doing 500 pushups a day, pounding protein shakes and listening to YG on repeat until he bounces back.
This is getting downright ridiculous. It's unacceptable for him to be 17th in the world after nine events. The drought will end here, in the same place he's made Gabriel Medina cry and landed one of the hugest ally oops in history.
I'm skeptical of picking…
It's been a while since we've heard from CJ. I'll go ahead and blame this on Orlando, FL. You can't live in Orlando and expect to excel at surfing on the highest level of competition. Starting a brand (Salty Crew) and raising another child probably doesn't make it any easier, but hope lies in the fact that he's been in Europe for over two weeks and should be back to form after surfing a lot in that time.
It could be large and barreling for at least one of the first two rounds, and this guy proved he can handle those types of conditions at Teahupo'o. I'm rolling the dice with Dion as Struggler #1.
Aritz's average heat total is 11.72, which is 2nd best to Dion Atkinson in the Strugglers bracket. I'll give him a chance but there's still no chance of me watching any of his waves. Not even on Heat Analyzer. Yuck.
I'm definitely not picking…
Four losses left to complete the 2nd ever 'defeated season', joining the lowly Ricky Basnett in not making one heat all year. Raoni's average heat total for 2014 is 9.85 points. His highest total of the year is 13.97 points in 16 attempts. That ain't gonna cut it. On the bright side, Monterio could take comfort in the fact that Alana Blanchard is knocking on the defeated club door as well.