(Editor's note: PBR release)
LAS VEGAS – With only 1,793.16 points separating the Top 3 riders heading into the 2019 PBR Unleash The Beast World Finals, slated to take over T-Mobile Arena from Nov. 6-10, the five days of action portends to be one of the most fiercely contested World Championship races in PBR (Professional Bull Riders) history.
The 2019 season has kept fans on the edge of their seats with intense ups and downs, as the world title race has dramatically unfolded. Each of the top three ranked bull riders have held the world No. 1 ranking throughout the 26-week season. As the top bull riders in the world take to the dirt to challenge the rankest bulls on the planet, the competition will reach an all-time high with a million dollars and the coveted gold buckle on the line.
Historically, any rider within 2,000 world points of the world No. 1 ranking at the start of the World Finals is a legitimate contender for the season’s World Championship. With 3,300 points available across the five days of competition, the championship is truly up for grabs among this year’s top three PBR cowboys.
After a back-and-forth epic battle throughout the season, the field is led by No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme, recording an elite tour best 18 round wins. Hot on Leme’s heels is 2017 PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood, trailing the 23-year-old Brazilian by a slim 749.16 points. Lockwood leads No. 3 Chase Outlaw by 703.33 points. Illustrative of their dominance in 2019, each of the Top 3-ranked riders, Leme (Duluth, Albuquerque, Anaheim, Springfield), Lockwood (New York City, Chicago, Tulsa, Houston) and Outlaw (St. Louis, Kansas City, Cheyenne, Fairfax) have each won a league-best four regular-season, premier series event titles.
The tour’s Top 5 is rounded out by No. 4 Joao Ricardo Vieira (-2,496.66) and No. 5 Cooper Davis (-3,241.66) who after winning the PBR World Finals event title in 2015, captured the PBR Word Championship in 2016.
In the Rookie of the Year race, just 499 points separate the top three contenders heading into World Finals week. Standings leader Dalton Kasel, who took the season by storm quickly climbing the rankings from No. 43 to No. 7 in three months’ time after making his debut in Tulsa, will look to maintain his No. 1 ranking, while No. 2 Daylon Swearingen and No. 3 Mason Taylor will be on the hunt to erase the Texan’s 410.41 and 498.75-point leads, respectively.
The 35 qualifiers via the world standings who will put it all on the line in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip for a chance at collecting their share of the more than $2.5 million in prize money are:
Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil)
Jess Lockwood (Volborg, Montana)
Chase Outlaw (Hamburg, Arkansas)
Joao Ricardo Vieira (Itatinga, Brazil)
Cooper Davis (Jasper, Texas)
Cody Teel (Kountze, Texas)
Dalton Kasel (Muleshoe, Texas)
Luciano De Castro (Guzolandia, Brazil)
Marco Eguchi (Poa, Brazil)
Derek Kolbaba (Walla Walla, Washington)
Daylon Swearingen (Piffard, New York)
Mason Taylor (Maypearl, Texas)
Alisson De Souza (Taubate, Brazil)
Ezekiel Mitchell (Rockdale, Texas)
Ryan Dirteater (Hulbert, Oklahoma)
Lucas Divino (Nova Crixas, Brazil)
Matt Triplett (Columbia Falls, Montana)
Claudio Montanha Jr. (Pacaembu, Brazil)
Cody Jesus (Window Rock, Arizona)
Stetson Lawrence (Williston, North Dakota)
Cody Nance (Paris, Tennessee)
Brennon Eldred (Sulphur, Oklahoma)
Alan de Souza (Taubate, Brazil)
Taylor Toves (Stephenville, Texas)
Dakota Buttar (Kindersley, Saskatchewan, Canada)
J.B. Mauney (Statesville, North Carolina)
Eduardo Aparecido (Gouvelandia, Brazil)
Joe Frost (Randlett, Utah)
Keyshawn Whitehorse (McCracken Springs, Utah)
Rubens Barbosa (Iaciara, Brazil)
Michael Lane (Tazewell, Virginia)
Brady Fielder (Clermont, Queensland, Australia)
Cliff Richardson (Gresford, New South Wales, Australia)
Dylan Smith (Ararat, Virginia)
Scottie Knapp (Edgewood, New Mexico)
While Eldred and two-time PBR Word Champion Mauney both qualified for the most prestigious event in bull riding, they are both tentative pending injuries sustained at this past weekend’s Pendleton Whiskey Velocity Tour Finals. Should Mauney ride this will mark the grizzled veteran’s 14th consecutive qualification for World Finals. The first two alternates are Jared Parsonage (Maple Creek, Saskatchewan) and Colten Jesse (Konawa, Oklahoma).
Joining these 35 men at World Finals are the five qualifiers from the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour (PWVT).
Leandro Machado (Nova, Esperanca, Brazil) earned his spot as the top finishing international invite from this past weekend’s PWVT Finals. Ramon de Lima (Rio Branco, Brazil), Ouncie Mitchell (Fresno, Texas), Austin Richardson (Stephenville, Texas) and Daniel Tinsman (Farmland, Indiana) also punched their ticket to compete.
Each rider will ride one bull per night during Rounds 1-5 from Wednesday through Sunday. Scores from the five rides will then be combined, and the Top 15 riders will advance to the championship round following the completion of Round 5 on Sunday, Nov. 10. The rider with the highest total score from the six rounds will earn the PBR World Finals event title and $300,000.
PBR also revealed the World Finals bullfighters that will take to the dirt to protect the best bull riders in the world. Veterans Shorty Gorham, Frank Newsom, Jesse Byrne and Cody Webster will be vigilant throughout each 8-sEcond ride or wreck throughout the week.
For more information on the PBRWorld Finals Nov. 6-10 at T-Mobile Arena, please visit www.pbrworldfinals.com [pbrworldfinals.com].
CBS Sports Network will broadcast every round of the PBR World Finals live at 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday-Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and then at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The action will also be available for streaming online at www.ridepass.com [ridepass.com]. Live streaming will begin at 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday-Thursday, 10:30 p.m. Friday, 10:10 p.m. Saturday and then at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday