BRAZIL PREVIEW: The Title Hangs In The Balance

Typically, the world title race comes down to Brazil. In the shifty beach breaks of Santa Catarina, the final portion of some world champion's efforts are realized. In 1999, Occy sealed his title in Brazil. Same for Sunny Garcia in 2000. Andy Irons sewed up all but one of his three world titles in Brazil, and Kelly Slater made his triumphant comeback in 2005 by clinching in much-celebrated style on the Brazil coast.

So the question now is, can Mick Fanning add his name to that list?

The mathmeticians over at the ASP compiled some numbers, and here is what the world title boils down to:

* If Mick Fanning wins in Brazil he clinches the World Title.

* If Fanning gets 2nd, Taj Burrow needs to win the event and Kelly Slater is out of the race.

* If Fanning gets 3rd, Burrow needs a 2nd and Slater is out of the race.

* If Fanning gets 5th, Burrow needs a 3rd and Slater needs a 1st.

* If Fanning gets 9th, Burrow needs a 5th and Slater needs a 2nd.

* If Fanning gets 17th, Burrow needs a 9th and Slater needs a 3rd.

* If Fanning gets 33rd, Burrow needs a 9th and Slater needs a 3rd.

Burrow and Slater will need to count on a 17th or 33rd finish from Fanning in Brazil and place as high as possible in the same event (Burrow higher than 9th and Slater higher than 3rd – to be in better title contention (not needing a win) going into Hawaii.

Add to the mix the fact that several members of the Top 45 have withdrawn from the event for various reasons, and you have an event that is wide open for upsets. At this point, there are almost a dozen wildcards to be named to the event, and each one has dreams of upsetting the title contenders and making a name for themselves.

Here is an updated list of surfers who have withdrawn from the event and should be left off your Fantasy Surfer team for Brazil:

Andy Irons – Withdrew due to personal reasons
Damien Hobgood – Withdrew due to injury (knee)
Ben Dunn – Withdrew due to injury (knee)
Tim Reyes – Withdrew due to injury (knee)
Luke Munro – Withdrew due to personal reasons
Michael Lowe – Withdrew due to injury (knee)
Travis Logie – Withdrew due to injury (knee)
Daniel Wills – Reasons Unknown
Trent Munro – Declined injury replacement wildcard
David Weare – Declined injury replacement wildcard

All that being said, here are Fantasy Surfer's hot picks for the upcoming Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro:

Taj Burrow – Current Fantasy Surfer Value: $11,000,000 – Three-time winner of the Brazil event. If nerves don't get the better of him and his pursuit of the world title, Burrow will be in it until the final day of this event.

Mick Fanning – Current Fantasy Surfer Value: $12,500,000 – Fanning has made the semifinals of EVERY event but one on this year's tour. He's also the defending champion of the Hang Loose Pro. He's as close to a sure thing if there ever was one.

Kelly Slater – Current Fantasy Surfer Value: $12,000,000 – Kelly performs best when the pressure is on. And the pressure for world title #9 is certainly ON. If Fanning loses early, the motivation for Slater to win this event will be off the chart.

CJ Hobgood – Current fantasy Surfer Value: $7,000,000 – Small wave wonder. That can be said about both Hobgood brothers, but since Damien is out with a knee injury, CJ is the only Hobgood left. He's riding a hot streak right now too, so he's a pretty safe pick.

Jeremy Flores – Current Fantasy Surfer Value: $6,500,000 – Flores has the talent, it's just a matter of stepping up his game to match the big boys. He's top 10 talent, but needs to take down some big seeds to make more of a name for himself.

Ricky Basnett – Current Fantasy Surfer Value: $4,500,000 – Basnett seems to be finding his groove, but needs a little luck of the draw. He's made it to Round 3 of every event so far this year, which makes him a pretty safe gamble to get you a bunch of points right off the bat for a relatively small price.

Royden Bryson – Current Fantasy Surfer Value: $4,500,000 – Small wave wizard Bryson has been the surfer that every top-tiered competitor has dreaded over the past few months. He looks like he's starting to feel more comfortable and is really using the whole bag of tricks when it comes to surfing in small waves. He can stay right there with the best of them, so expect big things.

Adriano de Souza – Current Fantasy Surfer Value: $5,750,000 – The big name in Brazil. He hasn't lived up to the hype in Brazil over the past two years, but he's relaxed and feeling good. He has to be the favorite BRAZILIAN to win this event.

Rodrigo Dornelles – Current Fantasy Surfer Value: $4,500,000 – Quite simply, Dornelles is on a roll. He's at home in small conditions and isn't afraid of anyone. He should have a pretty good seed in Round 1, so there is the possibility he can earn himself a free pass through to Round 3.

Action in Brazil kicks off October 30th, and runs through November 7th, so grab some popcorn – the world title race is about to unfold.