- Who: The top four contenders for the WSL Men’s Championship in 2022
- When: 2022 World Surf League Season
The World Surf League recently announced its 2022 Tour schedule, so of course there is an opportunity to take an early look at who will challenge for the WSL Men’s Championship next year. Brazilian Gabriel Medina is the reigning world champion, locking down his third overall world title in the process. The 27-year old won three separate World Championship Tour events last season in 2021 including the 2021 Rip Curl WSL Finals, leading him to first place in the men’s standings by over 13,000 points.
Medina faces a tough field on his road to repeating as champion though. Let’s take a closer look below at who the major players are next season and their chances to win the world title.
|WSL Men’s Championship 2022|
|John John Florence||+300|
Gabriel Medina (+300)
Recognized as one of the WSL’s top young talents, Medina has an incredibly bright future at only 27 years of age. As mentioned above, the Brazilian is a three-time men’s world champion (2021, 2018, and 2014) and has been part of the world’s elite on the WSL Tour since he was 17 years old. This past year was his finest yet as he was able to lock down three WCT victories for the first time since 2018 (his second world title season) and also a fourth place finish at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Medina was also the winner of the 2015 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Champion. A creative and skilled competitor, Medina is credited by the media as being the second person ever to have landed a maneuver called the “Backflip” and the first person to land this move in a competition.
Foca nas coisas boas e vai com tudo. Estamos torcendo daqui. ❤️
— Canal OFF (@CanalOff) July 19, 2021
John John Florence (+300)
The only non-Brazilian surfer on this list, Florence is known as “one of the most dominant Pipe surfers of his era,” not a bad title for someone that is only 29. A native of Honolulu, Florence is the last back-to-back world champion (2016 and 2017) and one of the most decorated surfers of his era. However, 2021 was a disappointing year for Florence, finishing in 11th place after winning the opening WCT competition. The Hawaiian clearly has the pedigree to win it all, but does he have the mojo to overcome his injury-riddled 2021 season?
Italo Ferreira (+350)
The 2019 WSL Men’s world champion, Ferreira finished in third place during the 2021 WSL season. A consistent competitor (he never finished lower than 9th place during the 2021 season), all Ferreira was missing was more podium finishes to unseat Medina as king of the WSL mountain. Though he was unable to string together more WSL wins in 2021, Ferreira still made history as he won the first men’s Olympic surfing gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. A former world number one surfer, Ferreira is too consistent to be counted out and is a favorite in every competition he is healthy in.
Filipe Toledo (+400)
The final competitor on our list, Toledo is also the youngest and gunning for his first WSL Men’s title. Coming off of his best season ever, which saw him finish second overall to Medina, the 26-year old has a ton of momentum going into the next season. In the 2021 season, Toledo had two first-place finishes (second only to Medina) and finished second at the WSL Finals. The biggest knock on Toledo though is that he can be rather inconsistent (three 17th place finishes in 2021). For Toledo to finally get over the hump he needs to focus on consistency so he can avoid his boom-or-bust finishes.
Prediction: In the pantheon of great single seasons in sports, Gabriel Medina’s 2021 world title season might rank up there with the best of them. Medina’s margin of victory of 13,000 points was in a word — dominant. If he can stay healthy, Medina has a great chance to be the first back-to-back champion in the WSL since 2017.
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