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Beach Grit

WSL: What’s My Seed?

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Hope you brought your abacus!

The WSL has released the Margies heat draw and it is a doozy. I’m particularly keen for heats two (Kolohe vs. Fanning vs. Leo), six (John vs. Wiggolly vs. wildcard (#prayforJackorJay)), and eleven (Julian vs. Italo vs. Ethan).

But thinking about the event’s seeding, an important question comes to light. Why is world number one, Owen Wright, in the seventh seed? He’ll be wearing the yellow jersey in WA, but he won’t be facing wildcards. Instead, John retains the number one seed, followed by Gab and Jordy at two and three — though they actually switched spots since Snapper.

So, if Margie’s seeding isn’t based on this year’s standings nor last year’s end of season’s ratings, how does the WSL decide to rank individual surfers? Surely all the CT surfers must be asking, “What’s my seed?!” I contacted the WSL’s velvety mouthpiece, Dave Prodan, to find out.*

As it goes, beginning-of-the-year seeding functions within a specific algorithm. It looks like this:

Event 1 (Gold Coast): 100% 2016 / 0% 2017
Event 2 (Margaret River): 80% 2016 / 20% 2017
Event 3 (Bells Beach): 60% 2016 / 40% 2017
Event 4 (Rio de Janeiro): 40% 2016 / 60% 2017
Event 5 (Fiji): 20% 2016 / 80% 2017
Event 6 (Jeffreys Bay): 0% 2016 / 100% 2017

Because Owen started the year in the #1 Wildcard seed of thirteen and went on to win the Snapper event, his Margies seed will come 80% from the number thirteen and 20% from number one. When averaged and compared to the other surfers at the top of the rankings, Owen falls into the seven slot. Meanwhile John, who is working off 80% of one and 20% of three, retains the top seed.

The scale is slowly shifted throughout the season until JBay, when the 2017 standings take over the current seeding structure.

I will say, tentatively, that I agree with this system. Much like round three’s questionable reseeding plot, it’s a bit capitalistic in nature — the rich stay rich, the poor stay poor etc. But for the sake of the world title race it’s probably better than letting Snapper wholly dictate the seedings. Though, I can see how a 2017-centric seeding system would create more interesting heats earlier on in events, which is always a plus.

Now I’m all ears, kids. Is the WSL correct in maintaining the status quo, or should they open up the seedings and let all hell break loose? The latter is beginning to sound infinitely more fun…

* Technically this convo took place in 2016, and a similar article was written for Surfing Magazine (now residing on Surfer‘s site), but I figured this topic was worth rehashing on BeachGrit’s enlightened forum!