Knowledge is power, especially when playing Fantasy Surfer. Matt Bemrose, the 2017 Fantasy Surfer World Champion, is proof of that. 2017 was Bemrose’s first year playing but his win wasn’t beginner’s luck. Bemrose is the Volcom team manager and has spent the last decade traveling on tour with the Volcom team riders. Over the years he’s learned every little detail about each tour stop’s ideal swell direction and tide, every competitor’s strengths and weaknesses and what type of surfing clicks with the judges. During 2017 he honed in on all that ‘CT knowledge and funneled it into drafting his teams for each event. In addition to coming out on top, Bemrose won a new custom from Chemistry Surfboards. We caught up with Bemrose and even asked him for his picks for the upcoming Quik Pro Gold Coast.
So your Fantasy Surfer team ended up ranked #1 out of 21,708. How does that feel?
Oh, really? It’s the first year I’ve done it. So basically there’s a guy from the local beach and he said, ‘You guys want to jump in? We’re going to do Fantasy Surfer.’ There was like eighty of us. Because I’m on the national team for Volcom I’ve been on tour with Coco, Joan Duru, Dusty Payne, and those surfers for the last ten years or so. I just thought it’s perfect. I know the surfers pretty well, I know the locations pretty well, I know what direction swells… I figured I had a pretty good go at this thing and it turned out perfect.
Yeah, that’s pretty much the best info you can get as far as figuring out who to trade and who to keep. I mean, you’re right there with competitors at the events.
Yeah. Also, I found that with the rookie class, it was important to know them really well and how they perform at certain locations. Like Frederico Morais-he’s from Portugal, he’s got a big long carve and I know the judges love the extension through those maneuvers. I knew he was going to be good at locations like Bells and J-Bay. Also, I found the biggest advantage was understanding seeding and how seeding works with every event. So that was a big one for me I think.
I didn’t even look at the Fantasy Surfer world-wide team rankings. I didn’t even know about that. I just knew everyone’s cooking each other. Then halfway through my mate goes, ‘Looks like you’re top fifty or something.’ and I go, ‘Really?’. Then the day before Europe, I was top five or maybe top ten. So I was like, ‘Okay, I might have a go at this.’ It was way more stressful because I was 4th or something. Then I was like, ‘Shit, I could win this thing.’ So I got right into it.
Do you ever find it’s hard to choose the higher ranked guys? Are you scared to let them go and trade them for someone else when you think their value is going to drop or increase? Or are you pretty confident when you swap them out?
Pretty confident. Gabriel Medina for instance, he starts slow but the guy almost always wins the most and you know he’s going to come out strong. He loves putting himself in situations that are hard for himself. He’s the kind of guy, like Kelly [Slater] back in the day, who thrives off coming from behind. John [Florence] was pretty much a no-brainer for most of them. I was pretty confident with most of my guys. Then for Pipe, I picked guys that would perform at reef breaks and perform in the barrel-guys like Jeremy Flores.
With Snapper coming up, do you have any hints you want to drop?
I mean you obviously know a top seed is going to do good there. Then there’s Michael Rodriguez, for instance. Even though he’s such a low seed, that guy has got the x-factor. He’s f–king gnarly on a right-hand point on his forehand. I think it’s going to be pretty special. If it’s going to be big, Wade Carmichael, he’s a guy whose surfing the ‘CT judges really love. He does a big frontside carve coming out of his bottom turn and he can just connect the dots. Judges love that, on the ‘CT especially. He’s just got so much power. I think he’s going to be one to watch. Then Griffin Colapinto, know what I mean? He’s really good in the air and on his forehand, but his backhand is just f–ked up. He is ridiculous and his dad is one of the best coaches on the planet. Plus he’s gnarly in the barrel as well and he’s focused on the ‘CT.
It’s hard for me because I’ve got riders in the event. As the Volcom team manager it’s f–ked if I don’t have them [Volcom team members] on my fantasy team. So I’m just lucky I’ve got some of the most gnarly surfers like Joan Duru and now Yago Dora, whose got the x-factor going on. It’s a no-brainer to put my riders on my team. Bring it on, I’m going to back-to-back!
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