Fanning, De Souza, or Medina? It's Judgement Day at Pipeline

December 17, 2015 | Surfing
Adriano de Souza: hunting a maiden world title at Pipeline | Photo: Masurel/WSL

Mick Fanning, Adriano de Souza, or Gabriel Medina - one of them will be crowned the winner 2015 World Surf League (WLS) Championship Tour, as the Billabong Pipe Masters enters the last day of competition.

It's down to the wire! The most prestigious trophy in professional surfing will be decided in the final heats of the season, with three contenders still hoping to grab and raise the silver cup.

In the penultimate day of competition at Banzai Pipeline, athletes had a lot of work in extreme conditions. Waves in the eight-to-ten foot range were breaking in shallow waters. Bede Durbidge suffered a severe injury - two breaks in his pelvis - after wiping out in a Pipeline ride.

Julian Wilson and Filipe Toledo were sent home early, along with their world title hopes. Mick Fanning, who was under pressure with a Round 3 heat against O'Brien and a Round 4 clash against Slater and Florence, survived and confirmed his spot in the quarterfinals.

"I can't really put it into words. When you're paddling out against John John and Kelly, two of the greatest tube riders, I just thought that when the waves come, I'll do my best," explained Fanning, who lost his eldest brother Peter, 43, while competing at Pipe.

"It's been a huge day. I've got some personal stuff going on at home. It's so heavy to talk about right now, but I don't know, I'm just sort of cruising, and just trying to live."

Adriano de Souza, now nicknamed ADS, also had a lot of work to do in the Banzai Pipeline lineup. The Brazilian beat Glenn Hall, Josh Kerr, and Adam Melling on his way to the quarterfinals.

"There are a lot of people talking, and I'm not really worried about it. I just need to do my job out there, find my waves and get out of the barrels - that's my focus out here, and it definitely has improved," added De Souza.

"I liked Mick's approach against Jamie and no matter what if he won or lost, Jamie is still the man to me. Coming up against a guy like that, I think Mick just surfed amazing and when I saw that it lit a fire under me. Can't wait for the Quarterfinal and I think everyone will be ready."

Gabriel Medina looked pretty relaxed. Could he be the silent assassin? The 2014 WSL world champion keeps doing what he has to do, and if his opponents fall he will have a shot at the world title.

"I like these type of waves, and I don't feel pressure from the World Title because these guys are a little bit ahead of me. I just focus on my heat, my job, and this is great even though it's not finals day, a lot is happening, and it's really exciting," concluded Medina.

2015 Billabong Pipe Masters | Quarterfinals Matchups

Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
QF 3: Mason Ho (HAW) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. TBD

2015 Billabong Pipe Masters | Round 5 Matchup

Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)