The WSL unveils new format for 2019 CT

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

While you were sleeping the Wozzle's top brass were dreaming up new ways to make the sport better. By morning they'd reshuffled the heat draws and Sophie G had crafted a generic press release.

“As we continue to evolve and improve all areas of the sport, we have made important format updates to the Championship Tour,” said Sophie. “Our goal is to further raise performance levels with a surfer-first mentality, while also engaging the fans."

No clues there, so what are the changes?

The new Men’s CT Format will have:

Round 1 will still have twelve heats with three surfers in each heat. Athletes who place first or second in Round 1 heats will both directly advance to Round 3, which will differ from the previous format where only first place advanced to Round 3. 

Round 2 will now have four heats with three surfers in each heat, as opposed to the previous format of 12 heats with two surfers in each heat. Of the three competitors in each heat, the lowest-placing surfer in the heat will be eliminated in Equal 33rd place. 

Round 3 will now have 16 heats with two surfers in each heat, as opposed to the previous format of 12 heats with two surfers in each heat. The lower placing surfer will be eliminated in Equal 17th place. 

Round 4 will now have eight heats with two surfers in each heat. The lower placing surfer will be eliminated in Equal 9th place.

Basically there are the same number of heats as before - 47 - but the first two rounds are three man heats and sudden death begins in Rd 3 continuing to the final.

Most importantly, considering what Dirk Ziff has considered pro surfing's shortcoming, is that the top four seeds in the contest will be spread throughout the sixteen heats of Round 3 and they can't meet until the finals.

The women have similar changes altered to fit their draw:

Round 1 will still have six heats with three surfers in each heat. Athletes who place first or second in Round 1 heats will both directly advance to Round 3, which will differ from the previous format where only first place advanced to Round 3. 

Round 2 will now have two heats with three surfers in each heat, as opposed to the previous format of six heats with two surfers in each heat. Of the three competitors in each heat, the lowest-placing surfer in the heat will be eliminated in Equal 17th place.

Round 3 will now have eight heats with two surfers in each heat, as opposed to the previous format of four heats with three surfers in each heat. The lower placing surfer will be eliminated in Equal 9th place. 

Comments

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 9:40am

That looks pretty sensible. I quite enjoy three man heats where more waves are caught (I even enjoy the QS with 4). Spreading out the seeds works for me as well.

knB

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 10:17am

About time the top 4 can’t meet any earlier

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 12:47pm

I love professional surfing https://www.instagram.com/p/BrnuaUiFfhR/

belly's picture
belly's picture
belly commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 1:27pm

Like as well. The old Rd2 was borderline painful even if the waves were pumping. But the new Rd3 will be looooong.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 1:58pm

I'll reserve judgment until I've seen it in action a few times but my first thoughts were : this is shit, all they've done is extended the misery of Rd 2 into Rd 3.

It favours the battler and the journeyman(surfer first mentality?) , giving them more chances and to be honest I don't want to see more of them surfing.

I want more of the top 10 surfing, not the back markers still duking it out in Rd 3. Thats what the QS is for.

And last year was a great innovation getting rid of rd 5 but keeping Rd4.

Rd4 functioned as a kind of free surf, re-set and almost routinely featured the best surfing of any pro event. Now it's gone. Or at least transformed.

I think the real innovation in format should have been the implementation of the one they trialled at SurfRanch.
A leaderboard scenario on Day 1....maybe Day2, to cut the back markers then into man on man.

That would have made it so much more exciting and actually rewarded radical surfing....this new format by it's very nature (top 2 go through) is just more incentive for conservative surfing through the front end of the contest.

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 4:21pm

16 rounds, 4 surfers out. 8hrs of surfing assuming 30 min heats not 40 mins, and still got a field of 30 surfers to cull. Geez. They should get their warmups in the freesurf.... thought this was a competition? I also love a 1-2 day leaderboard.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 9:27pm

Name names Freeride! I want to know who are the journeymen and where is the cull. Number 10, 15, 20? He goes me: De Souza, Silva, Rodrigues, Crisanto, Duru, Cardoso, Gudaskas, Andre, Wilko, Mendes, Freestone, Christie, Flores, Buchan? That is 13 and gets it down to 21. Now all of these guys are gun surfers; Cardoso won an event, there is an ex world champ in this mix, and 5 of these guys are in the top twenty. Mmmm not sure I could cull any of these gents so if you cut it to 21 what do you achieve? There are a few very good surfers from 20 to 34 so I am not sure you are achieving much. If the waves are pumping they all rip and that is the bottom line: They have to get big, challenging and varied surf as these guys are the best of the best. Piss off Brasil and the bath tub (is it still on?) and max 2 beach break events. Put Fiji back in and another in Indo which I think is more important then culling.

julioadler's picture
julioadler's picture
julioadler commented Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 at 7:02am

First two contest of the WCT era (Coke North Narrabeen and Bells), back in 1992, were based on a leaderboard after they run 3 rounds (!!!) -16 heats, 3 surfers.
It was like a excruciating Round 1 for 3 days!
First 16 advance to Round 4 and so on...
7 Rounds as it is today - same ol'...
I guess it's all a big Groundhog Day where Bill Murray would never gonna bang sweet Andie MacDowell.
Maybe if the guy up there, Big Z, really want to shake things up, he'll do like Pipe Masters 1976/77
a big first round straight to the semi-final then final - 6 men heats all the way.
Numbers, brrrrrrr...

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 at 7:33am

Solid trivia, Julio! Points for memory recall too.

Here's the results for the first comp of the CT era: the Rip Curl Pro. 48 consecutive 3 man heats with no knockout (right click if you need to enlarge).

Coaster's picture
Coaster's picture
Coaster commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 2:12pm

There is still not enough surfers in each heat. If they want to make it more entertaining they need to have 8 surfers in each heat and 64 competitors in total. Knock out several in each round. The competitors should include 8 locals who live within the state or xxx kilometres of the break and who have qualified through local competitions. The point scoring system should include penalties for not taking the next wave in turn, obstructing, snaking, getting off the wave early and attempting an air and failing (sent in to the beach for 3 minutes for this one). There should be no lifts from wave skis. Watching unridden waves for most of the heat and competitors being overly selective of waves is boring. Luck has to play a part as well as skill.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 2:22pm

Huh?
Watching unridden waves is boring, but you don’t want them to be able to use ski assist to get back in position?

I don’t get it...

Coaster's picture
Coaster's picture
Coaster commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 3:34pm

8 surfers in each heat should ensure that someone is in position to catch a wave most of the time. No ski assist spreads them out, forces them to use more effort, penalises anyone caught inside and adds chance and risk into the heat. My post was about the entertainment factor rather than creating conditions for the most skilful surfer to win.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 7:23pm

Thankyou for clarifying, although i don't agree.
I thought the actual wave riding bit was the entertainment factor, and we want the most skilful surfer to win.
I think having so many extra people leads to watching average surfing.
I think it needs to be drastically reduced in numbers to a field of around 8-12 people in a pumping one day swell.
Cut the dead wood off the tour

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 6:52pm

This idea actually has some merit Coaster. I reckon it would be entertaining..especially with a heap of locals thrown in the mix.

fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21 commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 2:58pm

Sorry, please help me understand, if I was a pro surfing "fan", how are they engaging me?? And where is this "surfer first" mentality????

wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson's picture
wax-on-danielson commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 3:13pm

I reckon the old round 4 or 5 when you couldn't get eliminated was the best. The one they scratched. That was always the heat guys like Toledo and Johnny would be going for mental airs or what not cause that's what it took to win. Watch that round in France in 2017 if you don't agree. Think the heat idea and the non-elimination of the guys in it was King Kelly's idea - the greatest comp head there will ever be.

belly's picture
belly's picture
belly commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 6:39pm

Ring fencing the top 4 sounds good on face value. But surfing doesn't have a rolling ranking like tennis. So I'm guessing the top 4 in event 1 will be the top 4 from 2018. The top 4 in event 2 will be the top 4 from event 1. And the top 4 in event 3 the combined rankings from events 1 & 2 and so on. Basically calendar year cumulative rankings rather than 1 year rolling. Don't know what this means but I guess a fast start to the year will help.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 6:49pm

I like it on paper. Round 2 was always a slog. Way too many losers heats. Always thought the comp started at Rd 3 anyway so should help make it a bit more interesting for the second round. We'll see.

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 8:32pm

16 heats still seems a lot for the sole purpose of eliminating 4 surfers, particularly as good waves tend to be a scarce resource within the contest window.
For the women, 8 heats to eliminate 2 surfers.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 8:41pm

that it, they've just added an extra losers round onto the front end.

dumb move....but you can see why surfers pushed for it.

doubt "fan engagement" factored in except as a corporate buzz phrase to add in at the back end.

ojackojacko's picture
ojackojacko's picture
ojackojacko commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 8:50pm

yeah. fewer surfers and a 2-day comp is what they need imho

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 10:33pm

All they seem to be doing is polishing a turd.
The only way to improve the spectacle is run in better waves throughout a waiting period. The only way to do that is to reduce the overall field such that a comp can be done and dusted in two days or so. Rare that a comp gets more than two days of great conditions.
I’d personally love to see a season more like the BWWT with ultra mobile stops and long wait periods. Would reduce the infrastructure circus they have now at every stop and potentially save the
WSL money with simpler set ups

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 4:24pm

This.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Saturday, 16 Mar 2019 at 11:18pm

*Evolution of Pro Surfing

Pros can't surf so we give them surfboards
Pros can't ride Boards so we give them Leg ropes
Pros can't move their legs so we give them points for that
Pros can't handle a sea breeze so we give them wetsuits
Pros can't stop smashing their boards so we give them new ones
Pros can't surf slop so we give them WSR's
Pros can't paddle so we give them Jet Skis
Pros can't find the comp zone so we give them caddies
Pros can't stand competing so we give them priority
Pros can't stand bright colours so we give them numbers
Pros can't stand voice overs so we give them cartoon hour
Pros can't stand losing so we give them NO knockout rounds
Pros can't walk up the beach so we give them chariots
Pros can't stand inequality so we give equal for less or more
Pros can't sink piss so we give them spray cans.
Pros can't stand surfing so we give them Wavepools to wade

WSL Athletes ineptly qualify for the Modern Olympic Games...but as what?

Surfjustsurf

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 7:45am

[Disclaimer]
tbb performed tricks in Pro/Am circus before escaping to join Zombies in Ghost town.
Above charter reads as a paradigm shift where surfers by all accounts refuse to surf.
tbb enjoys & thanks swellnet for WSL webcasts...that in itself sums up surfing.

The enigma of interwoven natural forces playing off each other is spellbinding.
But all know Tsunami v Boyz Toyz carnage rates the hell out of Lost Worlds Colliding
WSL Pro hair-raising Salons are here to stay...on with the next dead rubber. Hoorah!

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 1:44pm

You need to use more commas.

blackers's picture
blackers's picture
blackers commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 9:40pm

Nah, love TBB's work even without the punctuation.

yahabo's picture
yahabo's picture
yahabo commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 7:46am

Pro surfing should be sudden death. If you lose a heat, Rosie Hodge shoots you in the head.

eel's picture
eel's picture
eel commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 8:46am

The start of every event is going to be so boring watching the shit surfers surf against each other and barely anyone getting knocked out. No one wants to watch the bottom ranked guys surf. Now we have to sit through more of it.

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 4:47pm

Yes. It’s QS 2.0 currently. The performance level is pinaccled, the competition and the tour needs to reflect that as well. Get rid of dead wood.

Cut the field to 22-28ish, with x number of wildcards depending on how you do the draw. It has to be run in 2 days, and preferentially with a leaderboard to cull the back markers instead of head to head in the early rounds (reduce safety surfing).
At the end of the year the bottom 12 are out, but points from QS and CT both count (every CT is worth 10000). That means if your year on the CT goes pear shaped you have to go scrounge the points on QS, vs guys who may have already done well on CTs with wildcards and won a QS 10000 for example. Will get a lot of great surfers at a QS 10000... and also triple crown will not only decide the title but who is on tour.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 1:42pm

As I said to Freeride, Name names! Who are the dead wood as I can't tell they all seem to rip.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 1:45pm

Who are the shit surfers? I don't see any.

Willliam's picture
Willliam's picture
Willliam commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 12:20pm

My 2 cents…....

Round One (4 hours) –
4 heats / 1 hour long heats / 6 surfers per heat = 24 surfers in total.
20 surfers from the tour / 1 injury / 1 wildcard / 2 locals or trails

Round Two (4 hours) –
Same format as Round One
Maybe a reshuffle of seedings or run in reverse order (depending on conditions)

To progress out of Rounds One & Two:
Highest single wave from round one + highest single wave from round two + next highest score = 3 wave count
Top two surfers from each heat progress.

Quarterfinals – 4 man on man heats
Semi finals – 2 man on man heats
Final – one man on man heat

The intention is to have fewer surfers in the field. Create higher quality surfing. More ‘go for broke’ manoeuvres. More progression. Less time to complete a Comp. Better chance of having consistent competitive surf. Yet each surfer gets plenty of time in the water. Hopefully Rounds One & Two end up looking like a free surf session.

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 4:48pm

Sounds good

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 5:01pm

priority would be a major hassle.... overlapping 2 man 40 min heats? Still 6 surfers an hour... but only 4 in the water at a time?

Willliam's picture
Willliam's picture
Willliam commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 5:40pm

That was idea....if you aren't prepared to go balls to wall deep at Chopes / Pipe / behind the rock at snapper. Then you loose.

Ted from the moon's picture
Ted from the moon's picture
Ted from the moon commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 3:33pm

That format might well work in the pool but would be terrible in the ocean environment due to the natural variability. The judging criteria used and the waves one gets between rounds let alone in heats that run after each other would just not work. Imagine the fairly common scenario where one heat gets a lot of good quality waves and all the surfers score reasonably high - with top scores around the excellent range (8's). Then in the next heat hardly a wave comes through and the surfers all get poor scores. Then the surfers in the prior heat could already all be 3, 4 or 5 points ahead of the surfers in the second heat. Yet its not really their fault. With subjective scoring and natural variability between heats and rounds its just too tricky to give people a fair go.

Reefeater's picture
Reefeater's picture
Reefeater commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 12:59pm

Kinda like it William. However 6 surfers at any pumping spot with small takeoff zone would be chaos.........but maybe chaos is what the wall needs..

Willliam's picture
Willliam's picture
Willliam commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 5:42pm

And that is exactly what I was hoping to achieve. Push it to that next level. Deeper and deeper. No shoulder hopping and waiting for priority.
The intension of the shorter window is to ensure pumping surf for the 6 man heat.

I reckon the chaos would be great viewing.

Willliam's picture
Willliam's picture
Willliam commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 1:46pm

Based on this year’s Top 24 surfers:

Heat 1 Gabriel Medina/Michel Bourez/Mikey Wright/Michael Rodrigues/Adriano de Souza/Seth Moniz
Heat 2 Julian Wilson/Conner Coffin/Kolohe Andino/Sebastian Zietz/Griffin Colapinto/Joan Duru
Heat 3 Filipe Toledo/Owen Wright/Kanoa Igarashi/Willian Cardoso/Adrian Buchan/Yago Dora
Heat 4 Italo Ferreira/Jordy Smith/Wade Carmichael/John John Florence/Jeremy Flores/Ezekiel Lau

** Heat 4 is a cracker.

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 4:50pm

Yep I like it. And then have CT and QS points all in the same bag for qualification, and you got yourself one hell of a shakeup!!

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 7:59pm

Once you get large numbers of surfers in heats, one of the problems is judging. You need to have the same group of eyes judging everybody in a single heat.
If you had 6 to 8 people in a heat, it's designed to get 3 or 4 people surfing simultaneously. There would be big delays in scores. People could be surfing and judges would still be reviewing the video of previous rides. Scores would be delayed. The viewers and surfers wouldn't know who is winning. It would lessen the drama. Plus, there would often be big delays between heats as judges review the video backlog to get a result.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 7:41pm

I think 4 man heats is a workable compromise.

judges are already used to that from the QS

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Sunday, 17 Mar 2019 at 9:05pm

Gary would like to know if you've been signed up to lurk every heat of the tour again this year, SS?

You and me, Gary, ain’t nothing but mammals so let’s do it* like they do it on the aerobics channel

*faceys

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 at 9:18am

have you ever known a dog that doesn't like to go back and lick its own vomit?

jaunkemps's picture
jaunkemps's picture
jaunkemps commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 9:07am

Looks like it might just work, only problem I see is with the judges taking time to score and maybe a .5 either way might tighten things up a tad, a 7.43 score is stupid, losing by a .1 is wrong in my eyes cogitate that homies........Giddyup

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 2:31pm

As the first sole function of the first 16 men's heats is to eliminate just 4 surfers, I think it would be better for most viewers is they just reduced the field to 32 surfers and started at Round 3.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 at 8:13am

Adriano De Souza has 14 sponsors, is an ex world champ and makes $90K a year excluding prize money.

Some heats see very few waves breaking . Sometimes only one decent wave. It’s ugly enough watching two guys sit dejected in a flat line up let alone six guys.

WCT should be 12 people- First round 3 man heats , winner advances . Losers surf in round 2.

Then 4 quarters , 2 semis and a final.

7 hours surfing. Won and done in one day with enough daylight for winter competitions.

Some good surfers might not make the cut - same as it ever was. No big deal. One month waiting periods but only one day of competition. Competitors fly in at 48 hours pre kickoff. Massively reduced infrastructure and amount of WSL crew / industry bros / moths . Less impact on local / recreational surfers and environment .

WSL should reciprocate their use of areas by providing locals with access to WSL wavepools. Quid pro quo.

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger commented Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 at 9:19am

The workable numbers are 32 or 24 surfers. Either just start at 16 heats man on man, and run with no 2nd chance, 31 heats to run contest.
Or if they are determined to give 2nd chances. 24 man field. Top 8 seeded directly to rd3. Back 16 start Rd 1, 4x4 man heats, 1st go to Rd 3, rest go to rd2. 4x3 man heats, 1st go to rd3, 2nd and 3rd booted. Rd 3 onward man on man loser eliminated. 23 heats to run comp.