5 things to watch at 2015 Street League Skateboarding Pro Open

Watch the 2015 SLS Nike SB Pro Open live from Barcelona, Spain, on May 16 and 17 on StreetLeague.com.

As the skateboarding world readies itself for another thrilling year of Street League Skateboarding, the masterminds at SLS HQ have been hard at work developing additional layers of excitement for this year’s Nike SB World Tour.

The 2015 season kicks off on May 16 in the street-skating mecca of Barcelona, Spain, with the SLS Nike SB Pro Open — €”the first independent international event in SLS history. The SLS Nike SB Pro Open unlocks the field to a range of new global, pro street-skating competitors — €”two of whom will win their way to join the ranks of SLS Pros in the 2015 SLS Nike SB World Tour on FOX Sports 1.

The contest in Barcelona will grant championship points for all current SLS Pros and provides the last opportunity of the year to win a Golden Ticket to the 2015 SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship, which is recognized by the International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) as the official world championship of street skateboarding. There’s a ton at stake next weekend in Barcelona –€“ here are five of the biggest reasons to watch.

1. Viva Barcelona: SLS descends on Europe’s original skateboarding mecca

Chris Pfanner, nosegrind at MACBA.

There are few cities outside the United States that can claim as much skateboarding fame and notoriety as Barcelona. This unlikely Spanish skate hotspot gained international acclaim throughout the early 2000s as the definitive, global nerve center for street skateboarding as pros from around the world began taking residence there, €”often staying as long as their "work" visas would allow — and often times even longer.

Flanked by the warm, sun-soaked beaches of the Balearic Sea to the east, skaters descended on the city in droves, attracted by its abundance of skateable, bust-free architecture and laid-back attitude toward life. Barcelona quickly became a world-class playground for street skaters to hone their crafts. With legendary spots like MACBA, Universitat Ledges, Paral-lel, Besos Bump-To-Bar, Beer Banks, Fondo and many others, the street spots of Barcelona became as common to see in skate-magazine editorials and videos as some of the most sessioned spots in SoCal –€ ”earning its reputation as a top global training ground to the world’s most elite pros.

The Barcelona scene still thrives today and will no doubt make for an eager crowd of locals.

2. Breaking in Badalona’s brand-new SLS Certified skate plaza built by California Skateparks: Skate Agora BDN

Feast your eyes on this.

As part of ongoing commitments to grow and sustain skateboarding worldwide, a new, concrete skate plaza has been built and will remain permanently in place, with the grand opening of the plaza kicking off with the SLS Nike SB Pro Open. Designed and constructed by California Skateparks and supported by Badalona’s City Council, the plaza named Skate Agora BDN Barcelona has been designed and constructed with the same meticulous dedication as the one-of-a-kind arena courses of the SLS Nike SB World Tour and is part of a program to establish certified professional-level facilities that endure to enrich communities with a premium and legal place to skateboard.

Constructed directly on the boardwalk of Badalona’s breathtaking beachfront, the course features a whole range of new rails, gaps and tranny options topped off by a unique volcano bump in the middle. To reinforce this commitment, these skate plazas create the opportunity for future SLS events to return and re-energize the local community of skateboarders.

3. Luan emerges from Tampa Pro with a Golden Ticket, while Kelvin Hoefler and Felipe Gustavo earn spots in 2015 World Tour

Luan Oliveira is on fire.

As announced earlier this year, Street League Skateboarding has partnered with the Skatepark of Tampa (SPoT) and will work together to engage Tampa Pro, Tampa Am and the new Damn Am Select Series as definitive feeder events into the SLS Nike SB World Tour. After an exciting 2015 Tampa Pro contest back in March, it was last year’s SLS runner-up finisher Luan Oliveira who took home the prestigious first-place trophy from central Florida.

Equally as important though is Luan’s resulting Golden Ticket ride straight into to the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship in Chicago. Meanwhile, fellow Brazilian ripper Kelvin Hoefler put a beating on many SLS pros in Tampa, walking away with a third-place finish and solidifying a spot on the SLS roster to compete against Luan and the rest of the SLS elite as an official SLS Pro.

Will Oliveira’s easy ride to the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship give him an inside edge to winning this year? Will newcomer Hoefler be able to repeat his stellar performance at Tampa on the beaches of Spain? All three Brazilians will be forces to reckon with in Barca.

4. Will Chris Joslin be 2015’s Matt Berger?

Matt Berger blew up out of nowhere in 2014. Who will be 2015’s breakout star?

Last year it was Matt Berger — the young, Canadian amateur (now pro) that seemingly came out of nowhere to blow doors on the more established ranks of the SLS. Berger competed in the first ever SLS Monster Energy Pro Open in 2014, earning himself a spot in the League. Not only did he carve out a role as one of the best in SLS, he sailed all the way into the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship, earning eighth place next to league vets like Paul Rodriguez and Ishod Wair.

This year, many have their eyes on rookie Chris Joslin, who’s following a very similar career trajectory. Joslin, who was basically an unknown this time last year, made an instant name for himself with a mind-bending breakout part in Plan B’s monumental 2014 video release "True".

With heartfelt co-signs from teammates and fellow SLS competitors Torey Pudwill and Ryan Sheckler, Joslin’s proven consistency and diversity could very well take him to the top of the SLS. With a range of go-to flip tricks in tow and a penchant for taking things big, Joslin will definitely be one to watch in Barcelona as a sureshot contender for the coveted Golden Ticket.

Madars Apse, frontside 180 switch crooks in Spain.

5. A new year means new pros . . . and even hungrier ams

The world of pro skateboarding is moving faster than ever before, and with more amateurs advancing at an ever-accelerating rate into the pro ranks, there’s no room for anyone to rest on their victories. It’s not just the other world-class SLS pros gunning for the Crown, it’s an entirely new wave of ams who have recently turned pro hungry for the prize. Young rippers like Madars Apse, Youness Amrani, Kelvin Hoefler, Louie Lopez and Chris Joslin are all recent additions to the world of pro skateboarding. And while not all of them have their names on the bottoms of their boards just yet, make no mistake that they’re just as dangerous as those who do when it comes to the SLS arena.

Watch the 2015 Street League Skateboarding Nike SB Pro Open LIVE from Barcelona, Spain, on May 16 and 17 right here on FOXSports.com or on StreetLeague.com.