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In the Bull Pen: Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee, will be the last PBR Major event of the season, and it will feature a bracket-type format similar to that which the Iron Cowboy used in past years. Riders will face off against one another in pairs and the rider with the higher score, or stays on the longest, will advance.

But, the bracket format is quite a bit different from the old Iron Cowboy format. When the PBR has featured this format before, it’s been four separate brackets with all four advancing through ever more difficult bulls. Here, we’ll see three separate brackets advancing through the first and second round on Friday, and the eight highest-scoring eliminated riders will have a chance to get back in via a second chance bracket Saturday. This second-chance bracket is where the best bulls at this event will go. PBR livestock director Cody Lambert explains:

“There are a couple of reasons we’ve adjusted the format,” Lambert said. “We’ll always feature the best bulls in the PBR. In this format, when we put the two rankest bulls at the top, there’s a good chance someone wins the event by riding for 2 seconds. That’s anticlimactic and one of the things we didn’t like about this format in the past. Also, if a rider has already lost in one of the brackets, it should be tough to win your way back in. Here it will be, because the second chance bracket is full of the best bulls in the PBR. Whoever comes out of that bracket will deserve to be back in.

“Another thing that’s changed with this format is the payout,” Lambert said. “It pays $75,000 to win the event, but the guy with the highest overall score will win $50,000. It could end up being the same guy, but if the rider with the highest score doesn’t end up the event winner, he still gets a big win here.”

The second chance bracket will feature Air Time, Smooth Operator, Little Red Jacket, Brown Sugar, and Who Dey among others.

In this type of format, Lambert’s job is a little more involved than setting the pens of bulls for each round. Here, he’s got to pair bulls of similar difficulty into each slot in the bracket. Once that’s done, the riders are drawn to the bull pairs. As the event progresses, and the riders advance, the last two riders will face Percolator and Sasquatch — two rideable bulls that can produce big scores.

“We’ve had bulls like Bushwacker and Asteroid in that final bracket before,” Lambert said. “We’re featuring the top bulls a different way here. Both bulls in the final round are great bulls, and I expect somebody will have to stay on to win that last round. There are a lot of rideable bulls in the third and fourth rounds, King Buck and Americana, and bulls like that, so it’s unlikely that anyone will sneak through the second day on buckoff time alone”

Follow Slade Long on Twitter @Probullstats

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