• Fantasy Surfing Strategy for the Billabong Pipe Masters

Fantasy Surfing Strategy for the Billabong Pipe Masters

This guest post comes courtesy of Billabong Global Event and Athlete Manager and 2x Fantasy Surf event champion, Chris Heffner -

I’ve had some success in the Billabong Fantasy Surfing WSL League (thanks for the money guys!!!) so the crew have asked me to do a little write up on Fantasy Surfing strategy and tips. I’m not sure that this isn’t just a trick and this may not even actually end up on the blog - so, I’ll let you decide whether these Fantasy Surfing tips and tricks are legit or not… ;)

My approach to Fantasy Surfing is pretty analytical/stats driven. I don’t play Fantasy Surfing with my heart. I believe that the best way to succeed (in anything really) is by giving yourself the best odds to win. This strategy is not full proof - no strategy is. However, this Fantasy Surfing strategy works more often than not. So, here goes my approach:

The Forecast

First up, I check and consider the forecast. Gonna be big, clean barrels? Guys like Kelly Slater, Gabriel Medina, John John Florence, Ace Buchan and Kai Otton have an advantage here. Gonna be head high, onshore puntable beach break? Guys like Filipe Toledo, Adriano De Souza, Jack Freestone and Kolohe Andino have an advantage. You can only trust the forecast for the short term, and these are the most important Rounds anyway - so I only pay attention to the forecast for the first few run days. I don’t pay attention to the long term forecast, since it is less reliable and if you’ve gotten your guys that far - then, you have already done your job. I consider all of my picks from each Tier through this lens.

Tier A

Your Tier A picks should be able to win the event. Some people try to go against the grain here to avoid picking the same picks as the majority of Fantasy Surfing players. I completely understand this strategy, however - that knife cuts both ways. If the majority of the Fantasy Surfing players are correct and you picked someone against the grain that does worse than the popular picks - you have put yourself at a disadvantage. Don’t overthink your Tier A picks and don’t get tricky here - pick the guys that can win the event.

Tier B

These picks are your money makers. There are 8 surfers in the Quarterfinals - and 8 surfers on a Fantasy Surfing team. Therefore, your key objective is to have your whole team make the quarters and then you’d have the perfect team. However, the quarters are usually mostly made up of Tier A surfers, rarely a Tier C surfer - and a few Tier B surfers. If you’ve picked Tier A guys that can win the event, they should be in the quarters. And if all of the Tier C picks are out of the event in the quarters, they didn’t play a significant part in anyone’s teams. In that scenario - which plays out a vast majority of the time - you should be in the running with the best teams in your league. Your main job in this scenario is to figure out which Tier B picks will make the quarters. And this is the hardest part. This is where I spend the most time considering my picks. How will they perform with the current forecast? Who do they have in their 1st heat? Who are they likely to draw in R2 and R3? Solid Tier B picks are the difference between competing for a win or dragging the bottom of the rankings (Daaaaaamn Dan… you’re in last?).

Tier C

If you can get your Tier C picks into R3, I see that as a win. Very few C picks make it past R3. A Tier C pick getting into the quarters can help you win your league but losing a Tier C pick in R2 will not make you lose - since, most players have lost their Tier C picks in R2 as well. In addition, there are typically “popular” picks in Tier C as well - so the majority of teams have the same picks in Tier C and it makes little difference on how these surfers do, since it is a wash. Don’t try to go against the grain here either, as there will only be a couple of Tier C surfers that make it to R3. Pick the guys who have the best chance to get to R3 and move on. I also avoid Wildcards here unless I am absolutely convinced that they can take out the big dogs - since that is who they draw in R1 and R2.

Disaster can and does strike - Wilko wins the first 2 events? Who saw that coming? Keanu wins France? Sure did. John gets 13th at Margs the year after coming 2nd? It happens. Real life doesn’t play by the odds. But, here’s the thing - the players that stick to a winning strategy, win consistently. Don’t let a couple weird results throw off a winning strategy. Stay solid. Pick you Tier A guys that can win, pick your Tier C surfers that can make R3 and pick your Tier B guys that make the quarters - and raise your head in victory as you walk past the peasants to pick up your winnings.

Or, I could be lying… ;)

For the 12 of you who are still reading this far, if you’re interested - I’ll post my Billabong Pipe Masters picks to my Instagram account @the_other_heff after Round 1, Heat 1 starts. And we can see if my strategy pays off for Pipe.

Click here for more Billabong Pipe Masters content and coverage.

Billabong Pipe Masters Official Merchandise