The Select Series is the qualifying series of contests for Street League, with the top two skaters in overall points moving up to the 2014 SLS Nike SB World Tour. With the world’s most elite skaters and seven events—six offering $100,000 first-place prizes, as well as the upcoming $200,000 Super Crown World Championship—there is nothing else even remotely like the World Tour. Plenty of skaters are hungry for the success of guys like P-Rod, Cole, Nyjah, and Malto, and the Select Series is their only way in. In 2013, LA was their last chance to move up to the big league.
Manny Santiago has been skating well all year, and with wins at the first two of four Select Series stops, he was cruising. For the others in contention—Felipe Gustavo, Greg Lutzka, Ryan Decenzo, and Youness Amrani—their entire season was on the line.
From the start, Manny and Lutzka showed why they were ranked one and two coming into LA, executing their runs and tricks exactly as planned, with Lutzka dropping his trademark frontside 270 to backside lipslides on the A-frame rail.
Youness Amrani and Felipe Gustavo are among the most nimble tech skaters in the world, but sometimes lack the speed and big moves needed to compete in the Impact Section. Both had a chance to move up to the league, but both fell just short in the Impact Section, despite some ridiculously hard manual tricks atop the Impact Section’s center block.
Wildcard Chima Ferguson looked very comfortable on the course, and his skating left no doubts about his talent level. He lacked strategy and familiarity with the SLS format, but he looked like he could cruise through the Select Series next year, if he were motivated.
Meanwhile, Evan Smith and Ryan Decenzo blazed the course, but also had their tricks and runs meticulously planned, which saw them cruise into the Select Series Final. Lanky Evan Smith was hands-down the most exciting skater of the contest, nailing the most remarkable tricks on the quarterpipes, rails, and even a wallride to drop that set the crowd on fire.
The story of the day, though, was the story of the Select Series season. Points-wise, Manny was a lock for the 2014 SLS Nike SB World Tour as soon as he made the Final, and he seemed to ease off knowing he was in. Behind him, it became a three-way contest between Decenzo, Felipe, and Lutzka for the remaining spot in the 2014 World Tour.
Lutzka had a slim points lead coming into LA, but the pressure build the whole contest as the three went head-to-head. Statistically, Felipe no long a chance to move up to the World Tour after Lutzka secured a finish better than sixth, but he was still going for the win on the day, putting down a nollie flip nose manual on the big ledge, and a switch flip down the stairs. On the final attempts, it was down to Lutzka versus Decenzo for a spot in the 2014 World Tour. But with a fall on a 180 to switch frontside 5-0 to backside 180 out on the Impact Section ledge, Lutzka left the door open. Decenzo nailed his final attempt, a 360 flip down the 12-foot long set of stairs.
In the end, Decenzo put it all together in LA, not only winning the contest, but taking the maximum points on offer and beating Lutzka and Felipe back into the Select Series for another year.
In the end, how close was it? Dropping the lowest score of the four Select Series events, Lutzka’s total for the year, with two second places (90 points each) and one third (85) is 265. Decenzo, with a sixth place (76 points), a second place (90), and a win (100) just edged Greg with 266.
Decenzo took Lutzka out of the 2014 SLS Nike SB World Tour by a single point, and narrowly defeated Felipe on the day. Now we’ll get a preview of next year, and how he deals with the pressure of competing against the SLS Pros in the main event, at Street League at X Games LA.