By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – The PBR Competition Committee has finalized the amount of world points available at the 2020 PBR World Finals following the league shifting the World Finals from six rounds of competition to five rounds for the four-day event at AT&T Stadium on Nov. 12-15.
One rider can now earn a maximum of 1,060 world points by winning every round and the event average next month at the 2020 World Finals. A rider previously could have won 1,040 points during the six-round format during the Finals that was supposed to be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas before the PBR had to move its season-culminating event to Texas because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Round Points at the World Finals: 100, 50, 45, 40, 35, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (Top 15 finishers per round earn world points)
Event Average Points at the World Finals: 560, 350, 250, 150, 134, 114, 90, 62, 30, 15, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (Top 15 finishers earn world points)
The Competition Committee quickly got to work on addressing what to do with the points system when they learned there the World Finals would be a four-day, five-round competition.
The changes for the 2020 World Finals in regards to the World Championship race are minimal, with one rider only being able to earn 20 more world points than in the original points structure. The committee made no changes to the amount of world points available for the event average, and the winner of the World Finals event average will still earn 560 world points.
Round wins at the World Finals will now be worth 100 points instead of originally being worth 80. The committee essentially took the points that would have been available in a sixth round and spread them out across the five rounds in Arlington.
“You still have those points, but they are split up across the earlier rounds,” PBR competition committee member and RidePass host Colby Yates said. “It is a small adjustment.”
Yates, a five-time PBR Finals qualifier and Iron Cowboy champion inside AT&T Stadium, said that the group was more than willing to find a solution to fit the event needs, especially considering the PBR has had much larger obstacles to face this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That is part of what we have been dealt with,” Yates said. “I can’t really include myself because there have been so many other people that have put a ton of work into keeping the PBR going. To be able to face these new challenges, the PBR has become really good at it. (The World Finals points) wasn’t a big deal at all. Like I said, hopefully this is just a one-time deal and we will go back to normal next year. The way we have dealt with what we have had as a company has been pretty good.”
WHO IS MATHEMATICALLY STILL IN CONTENTION?
Technically, the Top 20 riders in the PBR world standings are all mathematically eligible for the World Championship with a maximum of 1,165 points available for one rider if he were to win every round of the Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour Finals (Nov. 6-7 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota) and the PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast.
Of course, it would take a miracle for No. 20 Ramon de Lima (-1,093.34 points behind) to pull off that feat and get the necessary help he needs to win the World Championship and its accompanying $1 million Monster Energy bonus and a brand new Ford truck.
MR. AT&T STADIUM JOAO RICARDO VIEIRA IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO JOSE VITOR LEME
For a rider to have a good chance at winning the 2020 World Championship, he will likely need to be within 650 points of the world No. 1 ranking.
Heading into the Velocity Tour Finals, that would put No. 2 Joao Ricardo Vieira (-459.09 points) as the closest challenger to world No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme. Vieira has not been a historically dominant rider when it comes to winning rounds; therefore, he is going to most likely need to win the World Finals, picking up those 560 world points and giving him ammo to go punch for punch with the high-scoring Leme.
There is no such thing as home field advantage when it is man vs. beast, but good karma could be on Vieira’s side in Arlington. Vieira has six prestigious event victories since 2014 inside AT&T Stadium, and he has won more than $800,000 at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
However, Leme is 14-for-18 at the PBR World Finals.
2018 World Champion Kaique Pacheco, the No. 3-ranked rider in the world, is 688 points behind Leme. Pacheco, though, has only won one round in 2020. When he won the 2020 world title, he finished his gold buckle season with nine round wins. Pacheco will need to ride like he did in 2018, and he will need Leme to struggle at the World Finals, to make up the near 700-point difference.
LOCKWOOD, DAVIS HIGHLIGHT RIDERS WITH OUTSIDE SHOT
A rider within 800 points of the world No. 1 ranking could also remain in contention with a victory at the World Finals, but he would need some major help from his opponents stubbing their toes inside AT&T Stadium.
Many expect Jose Vitor Leme to wrap up his historic season with his first World Championship. Leme is expected to break out of his mini 3-for-8 slump and get back to riding at his close to 70% rate once the Finals begins, which will make it harder for riders further back in the standings to chip away at his lead.
However, as Leme can remember in 2018, an injury can always open the door for any of the world title challengers. Leme finished runner-up to Pacheco in the world title race two years ago after Pacheco tore his left MCL/PCL at the Velocity Tour Finals. Pacheco, though, put forth a memorable performance, gutting out two rides to begin the 2018 World Finals and hold off Leme for the world title despite his injuries.
There are two home run hitters lurking in the shadows that could potentially become players at the World Finals if Leme were to buck off his bulls in Sioux Falls or Las Vegas.
The obvious one is No. 5 Jess Lockwood. The two-time World Champion went 5-for-6 last year at the World Finals to overcome what would have been a 498-point deficit in this year’s points system to defeat Leme for the 2020 world title.
Lockwood, though, is 745.5 points behind Leme this time around and has some injury concerns with his partially dislocated right shoulder. Lockwood is not competing at the Velocity Tour Finals, and Leme could push him further down the standings dependent on what he does at the VT Finals.
Lockwood also won the first three rounds of the 2017 PBR World Finals on the way to becoming the youngest World Champion in PBR history, and he has a knack for picking up round victories.
Another World Champion with an outside shot at the 2020 world title could be 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis. The 2015 World Finals event winner is No. 6 in the world standings and 779.5 points behind Leme. Davis is slated to compete in Sioux Falls, so he could gain up to 105 points on Leme before the World Finals.
No. 4 Daylon Swearingen (-738.84 points) could also make a run, but he too is dealing with injuries to his shoulder/hip that will need to be surgically repaired following the Finals. Regardless, Swearingen is headed to Sioux Falls for the Velocity Finals.
No. 7 Lucas Divino, the only other rider not named Leme or Vieira that has two or more event wins in 2020, is 789 points back and will be competing at both Finals.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
© 2020 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.