The 2013 ASP World Championship Tour is nearing a close and the final event of 2013, the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, will see a showdown for the ASP World Title between Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater. In addition to the battle for the throne, Pipeline will also determine the final qualification slots for the elite 2014 ASP World Championship Tour.

Entering the Billabong Pipe Masters, Fanning holds a commanding lead on a potential third ASP World Title. In order for Slater to surpass Fanning for an unprecedented 12th crown, he must win the event. Nothing less than a victory for Slater will see him pass Fanning on the rankings. If Slater does run the road to victory at Pipeline, Fanning must finish 3rd or better to claim the title for himself.

While this year’s battle for the crown is now between two contenders, several surfers’ qualification hopes for next season’s elite hang in the balance of a performance at Pipeline. There are currently five surfers to watch sitting outside of the bubble for 2014 qualification who are all possibilities of securing a Top 34 berth for next season pending their result at the Billabong Pipe Masters. The list includes Miguel Pupo, Patrick Gudauskas, Damien Hobgood, Dusty Payne, and Yadin Nicol. All of these surfers could qualify through either the ASP WCT or the ASP World Ranking and their minimum results needed could change depending on surfers in the Top 22 on the ASP WCT or Top 10 on the ASP World Ranking. Currently, the minimum cutoff for the ASP WCT is 14,750 points. It is important to note that these scenarios rely on surfers who are currently holding a requalification spot making no changes in their ASP WCT or World Ranking.

Miguel Pupo, No. 24 on the ASP WCT, currently needs a 13th place to meet the current minimum cutoff. Miguel is seeded straight to round two, so if he makes it through his first heat, he has requalified. Who he comes up against will be decided in Round One.

Patrick Gudauskas, current No. 27 on the ASP WCT, needs a Quarterfinals result to finish within the ASP Top 22, while a 9th could qualify him through the World Ranking. Patty G has it tough. In Round One Pat will be up against Ezekiel Lau who's on a roll after his win at Sunset. If Pat beats Ezekiel he'll have another five heats to surf, with Round Three being against one of the top seeds. 

Damien Hobgood, No. 28 on the ASP WCT, currently needs a 5th or better to qualify in the Top 22, but a 9th or better could qualify him through the World Ranking. If anyone can pull out a clutch performance it's Damien and although he's up against a Pipe local in first heat, we think Damien has the best chance out of all the bubble sitters. 

Dusty Payne, currently No 34 on the ASP WCT, who suffered an injury plagued season, could still qualify on the ASP WCT, but needs to win the Billabong Pipe Masters to do so. Payne could qualify through the ASP World Ranking, but currently needs a minimum 9th place result.We've been waiting for Dusty's big result... 

Yadin Nicol, current ASP World No. 32, could qualify via a 2nd place finish or better at the Billabong Pipe Masters. Yadin has the most work to do out of all of these guys. With no chance of qualifying through the World Rankings, Yades might as well aim to win the thing. 

Interestingly, Ricardo dos Santos has gained the sponsor wildcard and unfortunately for Jamie O'Brien, due to the incident in Tahiti during the Billabong Pro Trials with Ricardo, Jamie O will be watching the competition from his balcony. If you were to believe Jamie's account of the incident, this would seem a little unfair.

Please note that these temporary results are based off of one surfer’s minimum results with no additional shift in the rankings.

When competition commences, up first will be Patrick Gudauskas and Ezekiel Lau in the opening heat of competition.

A press conference featuring Slater, Fanning, reigning ASP World Champion and defending Billabong Pipe Master Joel Parkinson as well as Vans Triple Crown contenders Lau and Michel Bourez will be held tomorrow at the Turtle Bay’s Surfer Bar at 11am.

Surfline, official forecasters for the Billabong Pipe Masters, have called for:

A fun size run of NW swell will show over the next few days, with a bigger NNW swell lining up for the weekend and early next week. 

 

BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: 
Patrick Gudauskas (USA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Joel Centeio (HAW)
Heat 3: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. Marcus Hickman (HAW)
Heat 4: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Kaimana Jaquias (HAW)
Heat 5: Yadin Nicol (AUS) vs. Kahea Hart (HAW)
Heat 6: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) vs. Bruce Irons (HAW)
Heat 7: Dusty Payne (HAW) vs. Reef McIntosh (HAW)
Heat 8: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Olamana Eleogram (HAW)
Heat 9: Mitch Crews (AUS) vs. Shane Dorian (HAW)
Heat 10: Granger Larsen (HAW) vs. Kalani Chapman (HAW)
Heat 11: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) vs. Ricardo dos Santos (BRA)
Heat 12: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)

BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: 
Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. TBD
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. TBD
Heat 3: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. TBD
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. TBD
Heat 5: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. TBD
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 8: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. TBD
Heat 9: Travis Logie (ZAF) vs. TBD
Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. TBD
Heat 11: Adam Melling (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. TBD

BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: 
Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 2: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. TBD
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) vs. TBD
Heat 5: John John Florence (HAW) vs. TBD
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. TBD
Heat 9: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. TBD
Heat 10: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. TBD
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. TBD
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. TBD