Rio Preview

Shea Lopez on who to pick for your Fantasy team

Julian Wilson's diverse skills make him a solid pick for Rio. Photo: ASP

What do you visualize when you think of the surf in Brazil? Odds are, your perceptions are off. From my experience, while the South Atlantic may not be the South Pacific, the curvaceous coastline provides an ample amount of pounding shorebreaks spread across pristine coves, all of them loaded with potential.

I can recall a session long ago at a Rio beachbreak where Shane Dorian was attempting to ride Off the Wall-type 10 footers. That session alone changed my perception of that part of the world for good. This year's edition of the Rio Pro is set for a solid pulse of swell to arrive early in the waiting period. With any luck, we'll be in for a visual treat of South American perfection. Here’s my Fantasy Surfer picks for Rio:

Jordy Smith

Improvement comes in waves. Jordy is currently riding a tsunami of maturity that has seen him handle some tough losses without dwelling on the past. He's improving at every event, and eventually, we'll see him distance himself from the rest of the pack and the tables turn in his favor.

Sebastian Zietz

Adaptability and evolution play an important role in our lives. Day to day, Seabass and his extra digit find the desired sweet spot to milk the most fun out of any situation or circumstance. A big result could happen at any time for Seabass.

Dusty Payne

Loaded with self-control, discipline, and experience, Dusty should have risen to the top of the ranks already. Now, with the younger crop quickly making their presence felt on tour, this could provide an extra sense of drive and urgency to Dusty's approach in a jersey. Hopefully, we'll see his talents properly displayed in a contest setting.

Julian Wilson

Still backing his competitive act and flashy freesurfing, I put Julian on my fantasy team for his ability to consistently bring a determined, skilled approach to any event he enters. You don’t make my team if I can’t visualize you on the podium holding up some token of a trophy and oversized check stuffed with zeros.

Alejo Muniz

While Alejo doesn't take the most traditional approach, the young Brazilian has an incredible ability to powerfully drive off his rail and fins, all the while holding nothing back in heats. It's actually in a jersey that I've witnessed Alejo do his best surfing. Consistently rising to the occasion, Alejo is a solid competitor and will be a serious threat this year in Brazil.

Gabriel Medina

Unless I hear that his ankle hasn't yet returned to it’s previous elasticity, I will be anticipating--and expecting--Gabriel to push harder than we've seen him before to reestablish himself amongst the elite on the WT. His home waters of Brazil should offer up the perfect stage for his return to center stage.

Adriano De Souza

Once again Adriano has beaten the odds, along with everyone else, on his way to winning Bells and has positioned himself for a shot at the world title. A win in Rio is paramount for Adriano if he wants to continue entertaining such a future.

Patrick Gudauskas

After picking my first seven surfers, I was left with 1.5 million and the option of Yadin or Pat. I felt Pat was overdue for a big result and a change of position. In close heats, he's been the guy left holding the shortest straw for too long now.