Who are the best players going into the 2022 Pro Tour season? As we get ready for the 2022 season, let me walk you through who I think they are going to be. Not all of the players on this list are starting the season off in Vegas, but they are planning on playing in the first quarter of the season at some point. The main player that I haven’t factored into the pre-season top 20 that would be in there is Simon Lizotte, but he will be missing several of the early events as he is about to become a father.
#20 Nikko Locastro
#19 James Conrad
#18 Andrew Presnell
#17 Gannon Buhr
#16 Niklas Anttila
#15 Mason Ford
#14 Andrew Marwede
#13 Joel Freeman
#12 Nate Sexton
#11 Väinö Mäkelä
#10 Matty O – He has been a well-known player on tour for several years, but he really gained some momentum towards the end of last year. Switching to Westside this year is a big change for him, but I don’t think that will affect his performance too much. It looks like he plans on playing a pretty full tour this year and I don’t think anyone will be surprised if he sneaks into contention at a few.
#9 Kevin Jones – Going into every season, I expect it to be Kevin’s year. We all know the type of potential that Kevin has, but he just hasn’t had “his season” yet. Last year I started him at #6 but this year I’m being a little bit more reasonable while still being optimistic. We will see if the pressure of being the face of Prodigy this year cracks him or frees him to have an incredible season.
#8 Drew Gibson – With a very solid finish to last year’s season, Drew is coming in with some real momentum. It seems like he is getting better and better every year and I don’t think this year is an exception. He seems very comfortable with his bag and excited about the launch of his new line of discs and I think his mental game is in a good space which is half the battle when you have top talent like Drew.
#7 Adam Hammes – I view Adam as one of the future stars of the sport, but I am not sure if he is quite there yet. Last season brought two elite series wins, but it also brought some pretty low finishes. I expect a more consistent season out of Adam and for him to enter the final round in contention at 3 or 4 events.
#6 Kyle Klein – Could this be recency bias? Absolutely. Kyle really seemed to put some solid tournaments together towards the end and putting yourself in a position to win the hardest Major, USDGC, has to be a big confidence boost for the third Crush Boy. I think he has a lot of potential to come out the gates on fire and secure a few Pro Tour wins this year. With that being said, he is still young and developing his game which could lead to a season that lands him on the bubble of the top 10.
#5 Calvin Heimburg – He was known as Mr. Consistent until, out of nowhere, he wasn’t. Last season had a rough patch for Calvin and was bookended by your typical top 4s that we have come to know from him. With the continued push of the field, it will be interesting to see where Calvin comes in. He usually comes out of the gates strong, but I am interested to see if he is able to hold that all the way through this season and take his spot back in the top 4 or if he slips a bit.
#4 Chris Dickerson – Equipped with a new RV, new discs, and a ton of support, the Robot Chicken is hitting the road early this season. Chris looks to be playing a near full tour and putting to rest all of the people who question why he doesn’t tour. The biggest question that is left is where that will truly put him in the world rankings. In my eyes, Chris is going to be in contention quite a bit this season. I think Discraft has a great lineup for his game and he seems like he is coming into the season with something to prove which could be dangerous for the field.
#3 Eagle McMahon – With one of the best seasons last year, there is very little reason to think that we won’t be seeing Eagle pushing the top of the field at every event. The only reason that he isn’t #1 or #2 on my list is because of the injury he suffered at the end of last year. Everything indicates that he is ready to come back, but we won’t fully know until we see him back on the course ripping sidearms.
#2 Paul McBeth – Realistically, the top 3 players could all be swapped around and still be right. The argument for who is the best player in the world is a very very tough one and I don’t fully think there is a right answer. 2021 was going good, not great for Paul and then USDGC happened and just like that, you have a great season. With that being said, players like Ricky, Paul, and Eagle have been at the top of the game for years and a Major just doesn’t provide the same momentum heading into the offseason as it does for a player like Kyle Klein who Paul beat in the playoff to win his third US title.
#1 Ricky Wysocki – I’m gonna shoot it to you straight. There is basically one reason that I have Ricky here and am confident with my pick. That is the Dagger. Players that are just getting into the sport might have no clue what I am talking about, but Ricky was a different animal throwing Trilogy and putting with the Dagger and I have a feeling that building his bag with some plastic that won him 2 world titles while knowing he is getting $1 million guaranteed this year is going to give Ricky an unmatched swagger headed into this season.
#20 Stephanie Vincent
#19 Lisa Fajkus
#18 Ella Hansen
#17 Juliana Korver
#16 Jessica Weese
#15 Ohn Scoggins
#14 Heather Young
#13 Alexis Mandujano
#12 Heidi Laine
#11 Macie Velediaz
#10 Kona Panis – All eyes are on one main player in FPO coming into the 2022 season and that is Kona. She just signed one of the largest FPO deals in the history of the sport and the critics are saying “she doesn’t deserve it” or that it is “just because of her social media.” If that doesn’t put a chip on a player’s shoulder, nothing will. The biggest question that it raises is how she will react. I think we are going to see a bit of a roller coaster year for Kona. She will be in contention at a few events, but I also think there will be some events where she falls outside of the top 15. The big key for Kona is going to be getting out of the gates early in the season and shutting the haters up so that she can focus on being a top FPO player.
#9 Valerie Mandujano – Year after year, Valerie continues to improve and I don’t expect this season to be an exception. I really think Valerie could have a breakout season and end up in the top 5 by the end of the year. She has the power and the putt to compete as well as a developed winning mentality from spending years dominating her local scene. With a switch to Dynamic Discs this offseason, I think she will come into the year with a renewed mindset and ready to attack the course.
#8 Sarah Hokom – Sarah is one of the most consistent players on tour, but I just do not know how much her playstyle and distance is going to allow her to keep up with the increasingly talented FPO field. I expect her to stay a top 10 player this year, but I am not sure how much she will be able to push the top of the field.
#7 Hailey King – I think that Hailey is in an interesting spot this year. She has the talent and potential to be one of the top players in the world, but with the European talent coming over and the strong finish that Missy put together last year, I found myself struggling to put her about 7th. I hope she proves me wrong and comes out on fire this year and finds herself comfortably in the top 4!
#6 Missy Gannon – This is one of the biggest question marks on my list. Missy proved that she not only has the talent but also has the winning instinct by taking down the Throw Pink Women’s and Pro Tour Championships. With that type of momentum coming into the offseason, it is tough to know what to expect from her. She could come out and be the top FPO player in the world, but she could also struggle to finish in the top 10. Right now I am pretty comfortable with her being in 6th as I think she will push for the win in a few tournaments and have a few where she slips into 10th place.
#5 Catrina Allen – What? The current world champion at 5th in the world? Yep. For years I have been saying that Catrina Allen is one of the top FPO throwers of the disc, but I think her putting struggles are holding her back from being elite. The players in front of her have the throwing talent that she does, but their putters can get HOT and carry them to multiple win seasons. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that happening for Cat this season.
#4 Henna Blomroos – Here is where the questionable section starts. We just don’t know where the European talent is going to end up in the field. All signs indicate that they are going to push the top right from the start but they could be overhyped and underperform once they actually get into action on the Pro Tour. Henna is the player out of the three that I know the least about. From her finishes last year, it seems like she has the talent to push Eveliina and Kristin but falls just short more often than not. This could land her 4th like she is on my list, but she could also easily slide into 7th or 8th. I would be pretty surprised if she got over here and was not a top 10 talent.
#3 Eveliina Salonen – I think that the new fans of the Pro Tour are going to be pretty surprised when they see Eveliina play. Two years ago in 2020, she started her season off with 2nd place at Vegas, 4th place at Memorial, and then a win at Waco before Covid shutdowns sent her home. To say that I am excited to see her back on tour some this year is an understatement. She has multiple Pro Tour wins without playing many events, she has been in contention at Worlds, and racks up wins left and right in Europe against a pretty solid but somewhat unknown field. Do not be surprised if she comes over and becomes the number 1 player in the world.
#2 Kristin Tattar – Kristin is the main reason that I am so confident in the European players being as high up in the world rankings as they are. During the past few seasons with Covid affecting travel, we haven’t had much to compare the European field to. We all assumed they were great, but Kristin coming to the USA for a few tournaments last year proved it. She went 5th at worlds, 3rd at Des Moines, and then won back-to-back Pro Tour events before going home. Pretty convincing right? The only reason she is above Eveliina is because of the more recent experience on tour. One thing to keep in mind when questioning the strength of the European fields is that immediately following the two Pro Tour wins, Kristin returned to Europe and lost twice. The field is no joke over there.
#1 Paige Pierce – In my opinion, Paige has the right to the first place spot in the world until it is taken from her. I think she is going to come into the season hungry after watching the Pro Tour and PDGA player of the year go to players that she beat on a very regular basis last year. She hasn’t said it on social media, but I am sure she feels a bit snubbed of both awards. The biggest factor to me is going to be how Paige starts off her season. She seems to play well when in the lead or against players that she can intimidate by a long history of beating them. With Henna, Eveliina, and Kristin she doesn’t have that. A few slow starts could give them the confidence they need to make a statement early in the year and that could result in a 4th or 5th ranked Paige Pierce, which just doesn’t seem possible.
2022 is promising to be one of the wildest seasons yet! More and more players have their eyes on the top and are hungry to prove that they deserve the next big contract. I expect to see a lot of different winners on both MPO and FPO and very few blowout wins. This is going to be a very exciting year and I can’t wait for it to get started!
Agree? Disagree? Let me know on Twitter @FDG_Hunter_T