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With One Event to Go, Which Men Can Still Qualify for the WSL Finals?

Filipe Toledo’s brilliant season and Jack Robinson’s rapid ascent means they are both assured of a spot in the WSL Finals, and almost certainly in the top two. But while Ethan Ewing and Italo Ferreira in third and fourth respectively are well-placed to make it to Trestles too, their positions are not guaranteed, and fifth spot is well and truly up for grabs. Griffin Colapinto and Kanoa Igarashi are the most likely to be fighting it out for that spot and can make it impossible for all those below them with a decent performance in Tahiti, but if they are both knocked out early there are a host of surfers waiting to leapfrog them into the top five. This is what each of the mathematical chances of making the top five needs to make it to Trestles. 

3rd: Ethan Ewing (40,970 points)

After winning his maiden CT event at the Corona Open J-Bay a couple of weeks ago, Ethan Ewing is well-placed to qualify for the WSL Finals in what has been a year of significant improvement for the talented Aussie. The only person outside the top five who can catch him is Kanoa Igarashi, but if Ewing makes the Round of 16 then he’ll be assured of his spot at Trestles regardless of what else happens. 

If he’s knocked out in the Elimination Round – something which has happened twice this year but not since the third event of the season – then the door is left ajar for those below him to boot him out of the top five, though it is still fairly unlikely. In that scenario, Igarashi would need to make the final, Griffin Colapinto the semis, and Italo Ferreira the Round of 16 for Ewing to fall to sixth. All in all, things are looking pretty rosy for Ewing.

4th: Italo Ferreira (39,130 points)

Like Ewing, Ferreira is very well-placed to qualify for the WSL Finals, as he did last year, though there is a little more room for things to go awry for the Brazilian. For him to mathematically ensure that he qualifies, he needs to make the semi-finals in Tahiti, though if he makes the quarterfinals he almost certainly will too. 

If he loses in the quarters, the only way he could be knocked out of the top five is if Igarashi wins the event and Colapinto finishes second, which is obviously a very unlikely outcome. 

If Ferreira loses in the Round of 16, then Igarashi needs only to make the final of the event and Colapinto the semis for him to miss the top five; a slightly more possible occurrence but still fairly unlikely. 

If, however, Ferreira is knocked out in the Elimination Round, the door is very much ajar for him to miss the WSL Finals. In that instance, he’ll miss the top five if Igarashi makes the semi-finals and Colapinto makes the quarters, or if just one of those things happens and either Callum Robson or John John Florence wins the event. It’s unlikely that Ferreira will miss the WSL Finals and his fate is very much in his own hands, but if he is knocked out in the Elimination Round then the prospect of him not competing at Trestles is very much a reality.

5th: Griffin Colapinto (36,800 points)

With Colapinto a little way behind Ferreira in fourth and Ewing in third, and Igarashi breathing down his neck, his spot in the top five is significantly more vulnerable than those sitting above him in the rankings. The only way for him to ensure he competes at Trestles is to win in Tahiti, though if he makes the final and loses, he’ll only miss the top five if Igarashi wins the event, Ferreira makes the semi-finals and Ewing makes the quarters, which is a pretty unlikely combo. 

If Colapinto is knocked out in the semis, he’ll still advance if Igarashi fails to make the final, or if either Ewing loses in the Elimination Round or Ferreira doesn’t make it past the Round of 16. Most likely, that means a semi-final appearance will be enough for Colapinto to advance.

If he loses in the quarters, his grip on fifth gets a lot more shaky. In that scenario, he can’t pass Ewing and will only pass Ferreira if the Brazilian loses in the Elimination Round, and Igarashi will pass him with a semi-final appearance. Callum Robson could also catch him with a win in that scenario.

A loss in the Round of 16 means that any of the following will see Colapinto miss out on Trestles: Igarashi making the quarterfinals, or any of Robson, Florence, Miguel Pupo or Connor O’Leary winning the event. 

And finally, if Colapinto is knocked out in the Elimination Round, Igarashi need only make the Round of 16 to take his spot in the top five, while Robson and Florence can do the same with a finals appearance, and Pupo and O’Leary with an event win.

It’s a fairly complicated situation for Colapinto, but from his perspective it’s simple enough; make the final at Tahiti and he’ll almost certainly compete at Trestles, while a semi-final appearance will probably enough too. Anything less, however, and he’s skating – or surfing – on thin ice. 

6th: Kanoa Igarashi (35,525 points)

Like Colapinto, Igarashi’s path to Trestles is relatively complicated, but the simplest way to look at it is that if he advances further in the contest at Tahiti than Colapinto, he’ll most likely compete in the WSL Finals – a win at Tahiti, therefore, is the only way to assure his spot, while a loss in the Elimination Round means he can’t make it. 

If he makes the semis, he can also qualify if Ferreira loses in the Elimination Round, while if he makes the final and loses he can qualify if Ewing loses in the Elimination Round, or Ferreira doesn’t make it past the Round of 16. 

If Igarashi loses in the quarterfinals, not only does he have to hope that Colapinto loses earlier than that, he also has to hope that neither Robson nor Florence wins the event. 

And a Round of 16 loss will make it really tough; in that case, he needs Colapinto to lose in the Elimination Round, Robson not to make the final, and none of Florence, Pupo (either Miguel or Sammy), or O’Leary to win the event.

A finals appearance at Tahiti will more than likely see Igarashi advance to Trestles, while he is also a decent chance if he makes the semi. Anything less than that, however, and he’ll need a lot to go right to make it.

7th: Callum Robson (31,900 points)

Sitting nearly 5,000 points behind Colapinto in fifth place, Robson and those below him will need to pull a proverbial rabbit out of the hat if they’re to make it to the WSL Finals. For Robson, anything less than a finals appearance in Tahiti will be insufficient to make up the difference between he and the fifth spot in the world rankings. 

If he makes the final and loses, he still needs Colapinto to lose in the Elimination Round and Igarashi to lose in the Round of 16 or earlier; a very unlikely scenario. 

The only way for Robson to give himself a realistic chance is to win in Tahiti, something he’s never done in his career, and even in that scenario he’d need a few things to go his way. In that scenario, he would need Colapinto to lose in the quarterfinals or earlier and Igarashi to not make the final, or for one of those things to happen and Ferreira lose in the Elimination Round. In short, if Robson wins in Tahiti he’s a decent albeit probably still outside chance of making the top five, and anything less will almost certainly not be enough.

8th: John John Florence (30,685 points)

An MCL injury has seen Florence’s season go from a potential world title winning one to a wasted one in just a few weeks, though if he can get back out in the water for the final event of the season he is still a mathematical advance of qualifying for the WSL Finals. The only way for him to do so, however, is to win the event. He would also need Colapinto to lose in the Round of 16 or earlier and Igarashi to lose in the quarterfinals or earlier, or one of those to occur and Ferreira to lose in the Elimination Round. 

9th: Miguel Pupo and Connor O’Leary (30,185 points)

Miguel Pupo and Connor O’Leary remain a mathematical chance, and face the same requirement to give themselves a shot at making the top five; a win in Tahiti. If either does that they are a slim chance, though they would need both Igarashi and Colapinto to lose in the Round of 16 or earlier.

11th: Samuel Pupo (29,910 points)

The final mathematical chance of making the top five is the younger Pupo, though his chances are so slim they’re almost not worth mentioning. He needs to win the event and hope that Colapinto loses in the Elimination Round and Igarashi doesn’t make it past the Round of 16.

Though there are 11 guys who can mathematically make the WSL Finals, in all likelihood the three remaining spots up for grabs will be shared between Ewing, Ferreira, Colapinto and Igarashi. And with the fates of Ewing and Ferreira very much in their own hands, it’s very possible the fight for fifth ends up being a battle in two between Colapinto and Igarashi. But stranger things have happened, and though probability is not on their side, the door is still ever so slightly ajar for the likes of Robson and in particular Florence – if, of course, the two-time world champ is healthy enough to surf. The event window for the final event of the season runs from the 11th to the 21st of August, and with so much on the line at one of the biggest and best barrels in the world, will make for compelling viewing

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