The world title race has begun. Will it be John John Florence, Gabriel Medina or Matt Wilkinson?
We can credit the WSL for having a solid system to determine the World Champion every year.
You'll remember (or you won't remember) at this stage last year, Adriano de Souza was leading with 34,950 points. Mick Fanning was second in the running with 34,700.
Today, after battling an injury last season, Florence leads with a mighty 39,000. Matt Wilkinson is next with 36,000 and Gabriel Medina is sliding into third spot with 35,700 points.
Florence and Medina are believed to be downright dangerous in the closing events of each season, but this could be just a delusion.
Looking at the results from the last five years, right back to their rookie year on tour, JJF shone in 2014, just as GM did the following year, but in a different order for of events. Both had little pressure in chase-down mode. If one of them had the same results in 2016, their points would total 29,700. Decent, but not bulletproof.
Wilko’s track record in these last events, however, is somewhat horrifying. In 20 total CTs, he's never cracked the quarterfinals. To make matters worse, Wilko’s only advanced through one heat in his previous five Billabong Pipe Masters.
On a positive note, Wilko has defied these same, underdog odds through the first half of the 2016, smashing his previous career bests in all but a couple of events. He also has one more win than either JJF or GM - a 2,000 point advantage.
In any case, most fans believe 2016 has already become John John vs Gabriel, Part One. These two are finally threatening in the same year. This is one of the most polarizing surfing rivalries since Kelly vs Andy, and neither has thrown a (public) verbal jab at the other yet.
Of course, there's a mathematical chance for many other surfers to snatch the crown in 2016. Realistically, they shouldn't hold their breath. However, one person can, and it’s Kelly Slater. He’s already holding onto a 25th in his scoreline, which can destroy. Since the tour was cut down to 34 surfers in 2011, no one has finished in the Top 5 holding onto a single 25th place result in their scoreline.
Lowers is coming up, and so all we can do is watch and wait.