We've all heard enough about Kelly. Right? While still not a mathematical lock, let's be real, he's completely run away with the 2008 ASP World Tour season and nobody's going to even come close to catching him. Why not, you might ask? Well, besides the obvious fact that from start to finish he's dominated five out of seven events this year, Kelly is well versed in "strategy." He's not just the best surfer, but he's also the smartest. Consider lessons learned at Lowers: Taj had Kelly right where he wanted him in the final, but passed on a wave he clearly should have at least paddled for. And conversely, Jordy had Taj in his crosshairs earlier in the event but gave away priority for no gain (in fact, like Taj in the final, Jordy more or less handed the heat over). Talent on tour these days is at a point where on any given day one guy can beat another. Bluntly put, there are no bad surfers on tour. That being said, it's the guys who can combine a good top turn with a keen sense of strategy that are often the most successful. Looking forward here's five things to consider when building your team for Europe:
It’s All About Consistency, Stupid
Sure, consistency doesn't always make for the most dramatic of moments, but when it comes to longevity on tour some guys know how to make heats, others don't. Look at a guy like Luke Stedman, for example. With little to no fanfare, he sits 13th in the world, has finished ninth four times this year, 17th three times, and is one of the more dependable Fantasy Surfer picks. In every contest this year he's made it out of either Round 1 or Round 2, which is huge for us gambling types. Kai Otton's another one, with the exception of one 33rd and a fifth, he's finished ninth in every event. So, you may want to have Kelly on your team because he's going to win everything, but in Fantasy Surfer, like the tour itself, if you don't make heats you won't survive.
Don't Blame the Youth
Clearly Dane and Jordy are two of the most exciting surfers to watch on tour, but equally evident is the fact that they're a long way from having the discipline necessary to crush any and all comers. All season long they've been able to slide through a heat here and there thanks solely to talent, but if they're going to start surviving in the later rounds they're going to have to get tough upstairs.
Go On Mate, Pick an Aussie
Ten out of the top 20 on tour right now are from Australia. Granted, none have won an event this year, but you have to figure one of them is going to break out sooner rather than later. Taj, Parko, Mick, Bede, somebody's gotta do it. Just pay attention to who you pick and how you're managing your salary cap. Dayyan Neve currently sits 16th in the world, and while you may not have ever thought of him paying off for you, if you'd picked him earlier in the year, chances are you would have profited a pretty penny thanks to what could be a career season. Just don't pick Dingo, he's officially withdrawn from the France event.
Just Say No to Wildcards
In Tahiti, in California, and in Hawaii wildcards can add a lot to your team. In Europe…ummm…not so much. There’s no question the talent in Europe is reaching new heights, but there's still the issue of experience against the world's best that has to sort itself out. Spend your money wisely this time around and avoid being lured into a cheap pick up—plus, because there's such a quick turnaround between France and Spain, if you forget to pick your team you won't miss out on too much.