Pipeline 2022 - Fantasy Preview
Last updated January 25, 2022 by Balyn McDonald
I know it’s not our first time doing this, but there’s something wrong about kicking off the title race at Pipe. No world title scenarios, no qualification predictions, no season-long pressure, no form to look at.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. It’s a banger of a way to start the year, and I’m always keen to watch a Pipe contest.
I’m also looking forward to having a proper season, excited for the new rookies, and always frothing at the prospect of a new title race.
Mostly though, I’m psyched to share our fantasy game with the world. We’ve made it bigger and better every year, but the 2022 season, with massive prizes and even more refined gameplay, is going to be our best yet.
Anyway, on to Pipe…
As a mediocre Australian surfer who’s never been to Hawaii, I’m probably not the most qualified to write about surfing Pipeline. Instead, I’ll leave it to surfing’s most respected historian, Matt Warshaw. His excellent encyclopaedia of surfing (subscribe here) describes Pipe as such:
Beautiful but ferocious Hawaiian surf break located on the North Shore of Oahu, regarded since the early 1960s as the sport’s premier tube; site of the venerable Pipeline Masters competition. “First it intimidates you,” Kelly Slater said. “Then you find the balls to give it a try. Then you figure it out, and grow from the pride that comes with that. Then you get hungry for it.”
Pipeline is best on a west or northwest swell, and like with the rest of the North Shore breaks most often from October to March. While “Pipeline” specifically refers to the left-breaking wave, it can also be used to include Backdoor, the right-breaking wave attached to the Pipeline peak that opens up when the swell comes in from the north or northwest; surfers will often take off side by side, one riding Pipeline, the other riding the Backdoor right.eos.surf
There are numerous guides to Pipeline, including surfline’s mechanics of pipleine, the WSL’s breakdown with Gerry Lopes, and a Vision piece with Gabe. Then there’s GoPro guides from Kelly, John and Seabass.
Our metrics and predictions are focused on data from reef breaks, in both left and right conditions, with a weighting towards results in this particular event and for an average of slightly larger waves (6′++).
The official forecast predicts a possible start on the opening day of the contest window. Here’s the brief overview for the first few days:
- Saturday: Strong NW swell with good wind. Likely run day
- Sunday: Easing NW swell with great wind. Possible run day
- Monday: NW swell levels off with light wind. Possible run day
- Tuesday: NW swell builds with onshore wind. Likely off day
- Wednesday: Strong NW swell with light wind. Possible run day
In the longer term, they predict “more favorably angled WNW to NW swells are possible during the second week of the event window. Current timing for these swells is the 4th-5th and again around the 9th. Stay tuned, we’ll slowly refine the details in the next week.“
Injuries / Wildcards
Reigning world champion and former Pipe Master Gabriel Medina has made a late withdrawal from Pipe (and possibly other contests), citing personal reasons for the decision. He will be replaced in the Pipe event by Caio Ibelli.
Yago Dora is out with a Lisfranc ligament (foot) injury. He’s had surgery and is expected to miss at least 3 months, which could see him miss Pipe, Sunset and Portugal. Yago’s spot will be given to replacement surfer Matthew McGillivray.
Caitlin Simmers has opted to relinquish her place on tour for 2022. Her spot on tour has been awarded to Molly Picklum, who was the next-highest qualifier from the Challenger Series.
Ryan Callinan has officially withdrawn after injuring his wrist attempting a massive air. He had surgery and was hoping to recover in time for Pipe, but gave up his place today. His replacement will be Pipe local Ivan Florence (you may have heard of his brother… Nathan).
Moana Wong: The Hawaiian has some serious Pipe runs on the board already, with a dominant HIC Pipe Pro win and a stack of solid clips documenting her silky-smooth skills on the wave. She’s definitely well-placed to make her mark and upset some tour regulars.
Miguel Tudelo: The Peruvian goofy-footer will make his second appearance at the Masters after finishing in 2nd place in last year’s trials and having his first crack at a CT event. He finished 33rd that year, but the sting of loss and some Challenger Series experience will see him better prepared for a second shot at a win.
Barron Mamiya: The young Pipe regular is fresh off the back of a runner-up finish (to John John) at the HIC Pipe Pro and a solid Hawaiian season. It will be Barron’s 3rd CT event after wildcard spots at the 2018 Carona Pro Bali and the 2019 Surf Ranch event. It will be his first Pipe Masters, although he has surfed in the trials events before.
Here are the final draws:
Pipe 2022 MetricsAll data drawn from the 2013-2021 seasons, excluding 'Pipe Events', which is for the duration of the surfer's career.
Win %= percentage of heats won for given criteria
AHS = average heat score for given criteria
Events= number of times competed at event
Reef= metrics for events surfed at reef breaks
L/R= metrics for events surfed at contest breaks offering both left- and right-hander waves
6-8'= metrics for heats when waves were deemed to be in the 6-8' range
8-10'+= metrics for heats when waves were deemed to be above 8'
|Surfer Name||Career Win %||Career AHS||Pipe Events||PIPE Avg Place||PIPE Win %||PIPE AHS||Reef win %||Reef AHS||L/R win %||L/R AHS||6-8' win%||6-8' AHS||8-10' win %||8-10'+ AHS|
|John John Florence||67.28||14.61||12||4.1||76.47||13.58||71.43||15.08||69.78||14.02||75||15.07||72||16.5|
Pick ’em – put these surfers on your fantasy teams
John John Florence – Kelly may have the most titles and events here, but John’s indisputably the new king of Pipe. Last year’s win may have been his first Pipe Masters, but it’s just the materialisation of something we’ve all known for a while now; John John and Pipe are synonymous. He has the best average event place, best AHS, and is top 3 in every relevant metric relating to waves conditions for the event. My theory? Now that he’s got the monkey off his back with a fist Pipe win, he’s going to be even more dangerous.
Gabriel Medina – like John, Gabe’s metrics for Pipe and its conditions are incredible. Like John, he’s a former Pipe Master (as well as 5-time finalist, compared to John’s 3), and like John, he’s virtually a must-have. The only difference is price; the reigning world champ costs nearly 40% more. Can you afford to cut him? Never mind, he’s out
Kelly Slater – the WSL are doing a ‘Pipeline Top 10’, where they hype up the opening event through a series of articles reliving Pipe moments. It’s virtually a Kelly-Slater vehicle at this point. With 7 titles and 28 events, it’s understandable. What’s interesting is that, even though our data only takes in the past 8 seasons, he still has an average event place of 5th and has made the semis or better 62.5% of the time, including his past 3 events.
Jack Robinson – we recommended Jack last year due to his good numbers in bigger wave conditions and his natural affinity for heavy waves, but this year he’s nowhere near as cheap. Jack has a 25th and a 9th here so far, but if you can afford him, he has plenty of potential for improvement (as indicated by his 4th-best AHS for the event).
Miguel Pupo/Seth Moniz – I had to have some surfers worth less than $1M on this list. Miggy and Seth both have an average place of 13th here, with 9 and 3 appearances respectively. Seth has the better win % and AHS, but Miguel has consistency.
Matthew McGillivray – Sure, his single event place of 17th last year doesn’t scream ‘sure thing’, but at his price, nobody does. Look deeper though, and you’ll see impressive win % data for reefs as well as both 6-8′ and 8’+ conditions.
Flick ’em – select with caution
Owen Wright – I’ve been ragging on Owen’s Pipe credentials over the past few years, and he still hasn’t proven me wrong. He has an excellent pedigree at places like Fiji and Tahiti, but it just hasn’t converted to results at Pipe. Pick him, by all means, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
Jadson Andre – Jaddy’s a bit of a Pipe veteran compared to the rest of the field, which makes his lacklustre averages even more significant. He did earn a respectable 9th last season, but it was the first time he’d made it past R3 in many years.
Frederico Morais – last season, Freddy won his first heat at Pipe in 5 attempts. He now has a much-improved win percentage of 10% (and an AHS of 6.17).
Miguel Tudela – the 2020 wildcard was bundled out last time in straight heats. He averaged 3.44 points across his two rounds.
Morgan Cibilic – to be fair, Morgs showed in 2021 that he has the potential to silence doubters, so I’m not ruling him out, but at his current price it’s hard to justify selecting him on your fantasy team. You can get both Kelly and JRob for cheaper…
Here’s the thing about data-driven fantasy selections: they almost always guarantee you a safe, bankable score. What they don’t earn you is a winning score, a score that risks rising above the pack with an against-the odds darkhorse. For that, you need to back yourself with a solid sleeper pick.
Filipe Toledo – I’m not even sure why, but I have the feeling that Filipe will navigate enough backdoor tubes this year to make it deep into the event. The regular ‘Filipe can’t do well at Pipe’ narrative seems to have waned lately, and I feel like he could finally get a breakthrough result.
Connor O’Leary – Connor’s never had a bad result in his 3 Pipe events so far, and he’s looked solid enough in the conditions. This is more a gut instinct rather than a data-driven choice. That said, his metrics in reef breaks and waves above 6′ are pretty good.
Joao Chianca – Ivan and Barron will probably draw a few selections due to their Pipe pedigrees, but Joao (like his brother) fricken charges, and I think he has the potential to casually pack a few bombs and upset a few seeds if the swell provides the opportunity.
While you’re here reading, don’t forget to check out all of the features that have been added to the FSS fantasy game.
Prizes – are you kidding me? It’s probably the main reason you’re here, no? If you haven’t already, familiarise yourself with the bounty on offer.
Clubs – make sure you join one or start your own. Surfing Life Mag has created one, so maybe, just maybe, you can win some sweet print journalism prizes.
Data – each surfer’s image can be clicked to get a pop-up screen of historical data. PLUS, there’s the new ‘compare stats for multiple surfers’ feature on the team selection page, where you can compare the data and surfers that you see as relevant.
Substitutes – already Ryan and Gabriel have pulled out. Make sure you utilize the emergency sub feature for your team (at no cost to your team budget).
All that’s left to do is choose your team, watch the women’s event, and enjoy the return of professional surfing.
– Balyn (surf-stats)