Julian Wilson needs the three men above him to bomb out at Hawaii's famed Pipeline, but it is the man below that may ultimately cruel the Australian surfer's world title charge.
The Coolum product sits fourth ahead of the World Surf League finale, with nothing short of a Pipe Masters win needed to claim his first title.
Series leader John John Florence will defend his crown if he makes the final, but Brazilian Gabriel Medina and South Africa's Jordy Smith in second and third will prey on any mistake made by the Hawaiian.
Eight different men have won the 10 events to date, with Wilson's victory in Tahiti and a second in Portugal's most recent round keeping him in the hunt.
Wilson needs the top three to be knocked out in the third round or earlier to claim an unlikely victory, but he says fifth-placed Australian Owen Wright has every chance of scuppering his best-laid plans regardless.
A wipeout in the days leading into the 2015 Pipe Masters left Wright with life-threatening head trauma that has kept him away from the break ever since.
But with the support of sister and newly crowned women's world champion Tyler, who has returned to Hawaii to watch, Wilson sees Wright as a legitimate contender.
"He hasn't been here for a couple of years but I'd say he's definitely one of the favourites for sure," the 29-year-old told AAP.
"What Tyler did was incredible; she's so tenacious and it'll give him a boost."
In Wilson's favour is the fact he is the only man in world title contention to win at Pipeline, while he says the likelihood of a favourite being knocked out early is at its highest level all season.
The 32-man Pipe Invitational is scheduled to begin Saturday (AEDT), with the top two progressing to the main draw and capable of beating anyone in the field.
"It's the strongest wildcard field all year, so there's every chance of something (like an upset) happening early," he said.
"I'm such a long shot, but if a door opens I'll take it."
A 2.5m swell is forecast to grow larger from Saturday, with a likely round one start on Tuesday AEDT.
World Surf League Men's Standings
1. John John Florence (USA) 53,350
2. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 50,250
3. Jordy Smith (SAF) 47,600
4. Julian Wilson (AUS) 45,200
5. Owen Wright (AUS) 39,850
*10,000 points awarded to the round's winner