Tournament of Champions (TOC) – Fantasy Draft Preview

The pro divisions for TOC will get going on Wednesday. The PGA Championships of pickleball majors some might say. It’s always exciting to get a lot of the best players all together in one place even if it is a bit different with two pro tours plowing full steam ahead right now. It’s not as packed a field as the other majors but we still have a lot of the top players.

We are all tied up in fantasy after a weekend off and we’ll be sure to have takeaways after a major weekend on Monday. Slim won the toss and decided to take the 2nd pick.

(1) Ben Johns (Gritty)

(2) Simone Jardim / Ben Johns (Slim)

(3) Collin Johns / Ben Johns (Slim)

(4) Lucy Kovalova / Simone Jardim (Gritty)

(5) Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)

Gritty – Slim took the second pick and I think that was the right choice with 3 far superior favorites out of the 5 brackets for gold medals. I still think Ben in singles is the most secure choice as no one has shown they can challenge him on any day in any world and you only have to rely on Ben Johns. I had to take Lucy and Simone even after their loss last weekend. That’s a weird loss at altitude the day after Kovalova had to pull out of mixed. I hesitantly took Anna Leigh in singles even though these women’s singles days are becoming more unpredictable. I do think Anna Leigh benefits from not having to play a 5 game championship match at TOC.

Slim – This was pretty easy for me, I gave up the number one pick knowing it would allow me to make two Ben Johns picks. I am not going to let one week throw me off Ben and Simone at all and without Matt and Lucy in this draw, Ben and Simone are close to a lock. I also really like Ben and Collin to take gold.

(6) Riley Newman / Tyson McGuffin (Slim)

(7) Catherine Parenteau / Riley Newman (Slim)

(8) Lea Jansen (Gritty)

(9) Anna Leigh Waters / Leigh Waters (Gritty)

(10) Tyson McGuffin (Slim)

(11) Jessie Irvine / Catherine Parenteau (Slim)

Gritty – Considering the unpredictable nature of the women’s singles division, I went back to back with Lea Jansen as she has just about as good a shot as Anna Leigh at gold. I take the Waters in doubles as they could take gold and I’m not going to let one week of Irvine/Parenteau sway that choice until I see otherwise.

Slim – I really like Riley/Tyson and Riley/Catherine as silver medallists in their divisions, but I do wonder if I should have looked harder at Lea and the Waters here as I feel like both of those picks would have a little more gold medal upside (with a lower floor as well). With no Jay or Zane in the singles field this week, I think getting Tyson with the 10th pick is a steal, it will be an upset if he doesn’t get a silver, though a couple guys in JW and Dekel are lurking. I am hoping Jessie and Catherine can keep the momentum from last week going. Has Jessie Irvine found her stride again?

(12) Adam Stone / Dekel Bar (Gritty)

(13) Callie Smith (Gritty)

(14) JW Johnson (Slim)

(15) Callie Smith / Steve Deakin (Slim)

(16) Dekel Bar (Gritty)

(17) Callie Smith / Corrine Care (Gritty)

Gritty – Dekel Bar and Adam Stone are so consistent and without any clear threat behind them I would be quite surprised if they do not end up with bronze. Callie Smith had big results last week in singles and I like her over Irina to reach a podium. Dekel Bar is actually playing through these singles draws and I’m feeling pretty good about getting him as the 4th men’s singles player considering I had him slightly above JW. That serve of Dekel is beastly and him playing more singles has to be helpful for his game. I’m also happy about getting Callie and Corrine where I did. Carr’s issue in women’s is her lack of power but she can handle the power coming back at her, which makes Callie Smith the ideal complement to her game in theory.

EDIT: Corrine Carr has withdrawn since we did this draft and she is going to be replaced by Lea Jansen. Although that means I lose my team, I think that becomes a stronger team with the addition of Jansen. Not a bad partnership for her to step into with Callie.

Slim – I am happy to get JW here, and I believe his singles game, as is the rest of his game, is really on the upswing. I like Callie and Deakin in the mixed field this is a little short on great teams, I just feel like their consistency will carry them over a lot of the other teams, so I am very pleased to get them with the 15th pick.

(18) Dylan Frazier / JW Johnson (Slim)

(19) Ryan Sherry (Slim)

(20) Leigh Waters / Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)

(21) Anna Leigh Waters / Kyle Yates (Gritty)

(22) Irina Tereschenko (Slim)

(23) Andrea Koop / Lauren Stratman (Slim)

Gritty – I actually had both Waters mixed teams ahead of Smith/Deakin in mixed. I’m not too high on Smith and Deakin’s recent mixed results, although they were oh so close to being able to knock off Ben and Simone recently. I swore to be out on the Kyle Yates stuff and I’m afraid that his showing last weekend is skewing my view again in making picks, but the mixed choice is more about Anna Leigh Waters than anything.

Slim – I had to pick a men’s doubles and singles team here, as it was the only places where either Gritty or I weren’t full. Dylan and JW are a team on a rise, and you have to wonder if this is the week, that they could breakthrough and podium in what I would call a premier field. Ryan Sherry has been in Utah the last few days, so I have to wonder if is mental training is suffering as a result, but I know he got plenty of that in last week. He is clearly the best singles player available here. I’ll take Irina here, her singles results haven’t been great lately, but she definitely has podium potential here. Andrea Koop and Lauren Stratman may be a bit of a sleeper team here. I don’t believe they have played together before so it’ll be interesting to see how they gel.

(24) Patrick Smith / Kyle Yates (Gritty)

(25) Dylan Frazier (Gritty)

(26) Lauren Stratman (Slim)

(27) Maggie Remynse / Michelle Esquivel (Slim)

(28) Lea Jansen / JW Johnson (Gritty)

(29) Steve Deakin / Wes Gabrielsen (Gritty)

(30) Venise Chan (Slim)

Gritty – I was really unsure about the men’s teams. Slim chastised me for not taking Loong/Smith but their lack of anything fancy lulled me away. I go with Pat Smith and Kyle Yates who are two right sided players that probably need a more dominant left-side player to really have any results. The only player Yates has gotten any results in men’s recently is Matt Wright and Smith has not been successful in his limited runs outside of the Devilliers partnership. For my last men’s team, I went with the team who had the best men’s player left and that’s Steve Deakin. Gabrielsen had a good run finally at the APP stop in Bend, Oregon but this also seems like it should have been Tyler/Spencer. Finally, I had a bit of a hard time sifting through the mixed teams but I ultimately settle on Jansen/JW Johnson for my final mixed pairing. JW is playing so damn well and there are quite a few mixed teams that could have been picked that I left off the board.

Slim – I think I really had some disagreements with Slim this week in his rankings of mixed and men’s teams. Interestingly I didn’t have Kyle Yates in my top six teams in either mixed or men’s this week. Lauren Stratman is clearly the last woman with true podium potential in singles, she just needs those ground strokes to be hitting in full force, so I take her here. Michelle and Maggie seem to always play well together so I am content to get them here, and then with my last pick, I take the Hong Kong sensation Venise Chan.

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