By the Numbers: Gamblers Continue Dominant Run Behind Next-Level Leme

By James Youness

Now 8-for-9 to start the PBR Camping World Team Series campaign, the two-time World Champion is simply unstoppable right now.

PUEBLO, Colo. – The bull riding industry recognizes the fact that Brazilian sensation Jose Vitor Leme has been revered as a generational talent since bursting onto the scene in 2017.

Continuing to prove himself as an elite competitor en route to earning a pair of gold buckles as a two-time World Champion, he added to his trophy collection last fall by becoming the first-ever PBR Teams Most Valuable Player (MVP) after earning the highest aggregate throughout the 10-event regular season.

While the skilled 26-year-old ended up exiting the most recent premier series campaign ranked No. 2 in the world, having battled injuries throughout the spring, he produced an uncharacteristic 2-for-8 performance at the 2023 World Finals: Unleash The Beast, albeit riding at less than 100% health.

A great two-weekend event all things considered, but it just felt a bit different without the flashy heroics of the Austin Gamblers’ ace.

It almost begged the question of whether the industry was collectively taking Leme’s historic career for granted; considering whether we’d seen the best from “Champ,” or if it was merely just a dry spell while recovering from some bumps and bruises.

Fast forward a few months, to the dawn of the 2023 PBR Camping World Team Series.

Back like he like never left (technically he didn’t, other than a trip back to Brazil with his Gamblers’ teammates), Leme carried his Austin squad to a perfect 2-0 record while earning a spot in the league’s first-ever “Extra Outs” tie-breaking format.

As if the script had predetermined the energetic scenario, he eventually defeated Cooper Davis and the Carolina Cowboys by recording an electric 90.5-point journey atop I’m Legit Too. Both capturing the first event title of the year for his team and taking an early lead atop the 2023 MVP standings, Leme quickly reminded fans, competitors and stock contractors alike what it looks like to be the best in the world.

Now through three events, helping his team to a perfect 7-0 record heading into Nashville for this weekend’s Stampede Days, he’s racked up a nearly unimaginable 708.5 points in the individual aggregate race as he looks to capture consecutive MVP titles.

Thinking about some of this season’s hottest riders, guys like Joao Ricardo Vieira (439.25 points), Dalton Kasel (351.5 points) and Davis (350.50) come to mind, and they’re technically the only cowboys to record four or more rides so far throughout the young season.

But at a stunning 8-for-9 (88.89%) on the year, with all due respect, Leme’s been in a lane of his own, as the legend has logged more rides individually than four of the league’s eight teams have managed through three entire events.

Currently on pace to break his inaugural season record of 1683.25 points (19-for-26; 73.08%), will Austin’s all-star continue to dominate, earning bragging rights and an accompanying $100,000 check for another MVP season?

With the PBR Camping World Team Series set to invade Nashville, Tennessee, Aug. 18-20, we’re taking a quick look back at some of the numerical takeaways heading into the fourth showcase of the season in this week’s By the Numbers!

16-for-35: Essentially riding every other bull the team attempts, the Austin Gamblers will look to defend its league-best ride percentage (45.7) this weekend inside Bridgestone Arena as the Michael Gaffney-coached team has amassed the most rides this season with 16 in 35 outs. With Leme providing exactly half of the team’s conversions courtesy of his 8-for-9 record, he’s provided much more than a spark for the Gamblers so far. But he hasn’t been the only one punching the clock for Austin, as Kasel has racked up a favorable 4-for-6 mark this season, while Lucas Divino (3-for-7) and Ramon de Lima (2-for-6) recently flashed in Anaheim, helping the team improve to its perfect 7-0 record and No. 1 rank.

2 Out of 3 Ain’t Bad: After capturing the event title during last year’s showdown inside Honda Center, the Gamblers doubled down by winning again inside “The Pond” this past weekend. Paired with its season-opening win at Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the Gamblers have now exited two of three contests in the win column. Coming up just short of starting the season a flawless 3-for-3, Austin actually earned a spot in the Extra Outs round in Kansas City but wasn’t able to match Marcus Mast’s epic home dirt-winning ride. If you ask the Gamblers, they’d agree the west coast is the best coast.


Trio of 90s: Mast’s rank 90-point journey atop Hoka Hey notched the Kansas City Outlaws’ first-ever event title Aug. 6 inside T-Mobile Center while representing one of just eight ride scores to meet the elusive 90-point mark all season. Any guess at who’s pacing the pack so far this season? (Hint: the first part of the article) Most recently putting an exclamation point on last weekend’s competition with a nasty 91-point go dancing with Brusta, Leme now owns three of the eight scores to meet the mark. Recording the first two in Cheyenne, he began his quest for a second MVP trophy with an elite 90.5-point ride aboard Red River before later championing I’m Legit Too in the Extra Outs session for another 90.5-point effort. His teammate, Dalton Kasel, was also able to restore the roar behind his nickname of “Mr. 90 Points” in Kansas City, but Leme remains the only rider to strike gold more than once so far.


87.5: After spending a majority of his summer finding success on PBR’s Challenger Series, Alan de Souza stormed into 5-on-5 action by making his PBR Teams debut Saturday night in Anaheim with a qualified ride. Scored a quality 87.5 points after making the 8 atop Pain Killer, he nearly helped his Nashville Stampede squad secure its first win of the season, but the Kansas City Outlaws were able to edge out the blue and yellow squad 176-174.75. He and fellow rookie Bruno Carvalho represent two of three Stampede riders to record a qualified ride this season, with three-time World Champion Silvano Alves rounding out the group to hear the buzzer. Seeing Kansas City’s Julio Cesar Marques come out on top during his first-ever PBR Teams matchup against Klay Maker (85.75 points) as the only other rookie to ride during their debut last weekend, there’s plenty of talent in the wings, awaiting their opportunity to shine in the thrilling format. With Carvalho making a name for himself in PBR Brazil action over the past few years and Souza making waves on Challenger Series (currently ranked No. 1 in the Challenger Global standings), PBR Teams continues to attract and welcome riders from all over the world and stemming from various levels of competition.

Looking 4 Win No. 1: While the defending 2022 Champion Stampede have seen some flashes from the pair of rookie riders, recently complemented by a productive stint from Alves, they’ve still yet to record a win, bringing an 0-7 record into Bridgestone Arena this weekend. With thousands set to attend the three-day Stampede Days celebration as PBR Teams invades Broadway, will the home team be able to sneak out its first win of the year after suffering a 1.25-point loss last weekend? Having dropped a close 87.75-85.25 final to the Oklahoma Freedom in the prior event and even tying the Missouri Thunder during a 0-0 double-shutout at Cheyenne Frontier Days, the squad has suffered several heartbreaking scenarios, each of which could’ve altered the team’s slow start to the season. With just five qualified rides in 35 opportunities, Nashville sits tied with the Arizona Ridge Riders with matching 0-7 records. While Arizona has accumulated two more rides than last year’s Cinderella squad (7-for-35), highlighted by a productive 3-for-5 start from Vitor Losnake, they’ve dropped their fair share of close calls, allowing the Freedom to capture a tight 89.25-88 final in Cheyenne before seeing the Texas Rattlers post an 88.5-87.25 matchup and suffering an 87.5-87.25 result to the Outlaws to collect a pair of losses in Kansas City. With the bad luck continuing into Anaheim, the Ridge Riders came up .25 points short, falling to the Rattlers in a contested 172.5-172.25 final before ending the third event of the year with another heartbreaking 84.75-83.75 decision. Winless on the season, Arizona could potentially be wielding a 5-2 record, if not for the four-point differential in those five tight games.

2 Rides, 2 Wins 4 5-2 Freedom: In a league where razor-thin margins can have the largest impacts, the Oklahoma Freedom have found themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to performing exactly when and how they’ve needed to. Currently occupying the No. 3 spot, the Cord McCoy-led squad has only compiled a 6-for-35 record overall, which comes in at the second-fewest rides in the league, despite putting together a sound 5-2 record. Seeing the team produce just two qualified rides in California, it was enough for the red, white and blue Freedom to punch a ticket to their first-ever appearance within the new Extra Outs tie-breaking format. While Thiago Salgado was dispatched by July in a heartbreaking 7.3 seconds and the team eventually dropped the event-clinching opportunity to Leme and the Gamblers, it’s still a good sign to be contending for event titles. In a sport as tough as bull riding, nobody will complain about stealing a few wins and staying healthy, and that’s exactly what the Freedom will hope to do again this weekend in Nashville.

4-1 in Last 5: Easily the turnaround story of the year so far after capturing the event title during the league’s first homestand of the season following an 0-2 start to the campaign, the Kansas City Outlaws kept their hot streak alive en route to posting a 4-1 record during its last five games. Receiving productive weekends from rookie Cassio Dias and youngster Koltin Hevalow (both 2-for-2), the orange and black squad nearly exited Anaheim with a 2-0 event record, but dropped a close 346-342.25 final to the Austin Gamblers in what’s now the highest-scoring game of the PBR Camping World Team Series season. With both the Gamblers and Outlaws going 4-for-5 within the matchup, it marks just the third and fourth near-perfect slates this year, with Kansas City, Austin and Texas remaining as the only three squads to reach the 4-for-5 mark so far.


5 Outs, 5 Rides: Rivaled only by MVP frontrunner Jose Vitor Leme’s heat wave, Rattlers’ veteran Joao Ricardo Vieira has quietly assembled a league-best, five-out ride streak while doing all he can for his Texas squad. Going 2-for-2 most recently inside Honda Center, JRV recorded conversions atop Shot in the Dark (86 points) and Happy Hour (89.25 points), bumping him into the No. 2 spot in the MVP race. In a league where qualified rides are the ultimate goal, with a 70-point score being used to help propel the Oklahoma Freedom to a win earlier this season, an average score of 87.85 on the year has to make Head Coach Cody Lambert feel good about his veteran, as he’s managed to record quality scores in each of his last five outs.

Photo courtesy of Josh Homer/Bull Stock Media.

© 2023 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

Related Content