No disrespect to Mr. Kelly Slater, the undisputed greatest competitive surfer of all time, but it is highly unlikely that Kelly will win a 12th World Title in 2012. Winning the ASP Men’s World Title is an extremely difficult accomplishment for even the greatest of surfers, and this year, the field is too deep and too hungry.
Early rounds during this year’s season will see Kelly facing young surfers like Gabriel Medina, Kolohe Andino, Miguel Pupo, and John John Florence. Any of these surfers could prove an achilles heel to Kelly in smaller subpar conditions where they will be able to display their “future is now” aerial-charged surfing. Additionally, John John is more than capable of taking down Kelly in any conditions, and at any of the 2012 ASP WCT venues. Kelly will also be seeded against very tough wildcards during Rounds 1, 2 and possibly 3 of each event. Wildcards have been an issue for Kelly in the past, and at all the stops of the 2012 tour they could spell doom for Kelly’s title aspirations.
The middle rounds of each event will find Kelly facing quite possibly more beatable opponents, but still tough competition all the same. Add to this the fact that each of these opponents will be fighting for valuable tour points, in their bids to not only stay on the Tour, but to attempt to rise to or remain in the top 10. This means Kelly will have a dog fight on his hands against very talented surfers such as Michel Bourez, Julian Wilson, Brett Simpson and Adam Melling just to name a few
The business end of each event will find Kelly facing very fierce and hungry competition the likes of Josh Kerr (who got the best of Kelly in the quarter finals at Snapper), Adriano DeSouza, Owen Wright, Mick Fanning, Jordy Smith, Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow. Each of these surfers have beaten Kelly in the past, and fall under the category of “the usual suspects”, meaning they each have a propensity for making the quarter finals or higher at any given ASP WCT event. The depth of competitive surfing talent and knowledge among this tier of the Men’s tour will not allow for Kelly to go on one of his multiple event wins in 2012.
All of these challenges might be enough to motivate Kelly to break down a new set of barriers and standards in 2012, but it seems unlikely. Look for every heat that Kelly competes in this year to be a major battle.
Hopefully, for the fans and surfing’s sake, Kelly will compete in all of the events on the 2012 ASP World Tour schedule. Kelly competing in the remaining events of the 2012 season would serve two purposes for the sport and its fans. First, the fans are sure to witness great sports drama during every heat that Kelly competes in during the 2012 ASP Men’s WCT season. Secondly, it might allow our sport the opportunity to witness the changing of the guard – the dethroning of an 11x World Champion.