By James Youness
Just like that, we’re onto the third event of the 2023 Camping World Team Series as the 5-on-5 series heads to Anaheim, California’s Honda Center!
PUEBLO, Colo. – If last year’s inaugural 2022 PBR Teams campaign taught us one thing, it’s that the world largest gold buckle is 100% up for grabs: regardless of how special, or mediocre, a team’s regular-season record and corresponding reputation may suggest.
Just ask the 2022 PBR Teams Champion Nashville Stampede squad, which assembled a league-worst 7-20-1 record during the 10-event regular season. Heading into the PBR Championship in Las Vegas ranked dead last as the No. 8 seed, the Stampede didn’t have anything to lose.
But plenty to win.
Eventually stringing together a perfect 3-0 run en route to defeating the Oklahoma Freedom, Austin Gamblers and Texas Rattlers, the blue, white and yellow squad completed its Cinderella Story run by recording a 264-182.75 victory over Arizona Ridge Riders.
Finishing the regular season just a game over .500 at 14-13-1, ranked No. 5, a runner-up result inside T-Mobile Arena for an Arizona team which witnessed plenty of ups and downs throughout year one was a favorable finish in the eyes of most.
Especially considering just how close each of the Top 7 teams finished:
2022 PBR Teams Regular Season Standings
No. 1 Austin Gamblers: 16-12
No. 2 Texas Rattlers: 16-12
No. 3 Oklahoma Freedom: 16-12
No. 4 Carolina Cowboys: 15-13
No. 5 Arizona Ridge Riders: 14-13-1
No. 6 Missouri Thunder: 13-15
No. 7 Kansas City Outlaws: 12-16
Now, five games into the 2023 season, both the defending champion Stampede and Ridge Riders find themselves as the last winless squads in the league, as each team sits at 0-5 through two events.
With the Stampede missing their ace in Kaique Pacheco (lower-body injury), who went a perfect 4-for-4 last November to help his team secure the first trophy-raising honors, and the Ridge Riders seeing slow starts from guys like Colten Fritzlan, Keyshawn Whitehorse and company, both of the basement-dwelling squads have plenty of time to turn things around, with health and momentum being some of the long-term goals.
While each of the eight teams want to find that groove, feeling themselves as the season progresses with the idea of being in the best shape possible during the weeks leading into the Teams Championship, there has to be something said about actually finding early-season success while instilling confidence in the organization. Right?
Just ask the Austin Gamblers, who have managed to maintain a flawless 5-0 record while racking up an event win and two opportunities to shine in the league’s new “Extra Outs” tie-breaking format. Headlined by MVP frontrunner Jose Vitor Leme and complemented by “Mr. 90 Points” himself, Dalton Kasel, winning each and every game is very much still the goal. Collecting additional prizes, accolades, and of course, bragging rights, with each qualified ride the green and black team racks up, the standings might not be top of mind for every team, but the Michael Gaffney-coached squad isn’t settling for anything less than domination. Regular season, Extra Outs or in Sin City, later this fall.
Whether fans and teams are staring down the standings or just letting things play out, there’s one thing that remains consistent throughout the electric team-based league:
The celebrations are awesome, the walk-off winners even more special and the Hollywood endings?
Well, the Kansas City Outlaws checked that box last weekend after staring the year 0-2, becoming the first team to capture an event title during its respective homestand during the 2023 season.
With two more nights of competitive, camaraderie-driven action set to take place in sunny California, strap in and get ready for some more rank rides and badass bovines!
As the 5-on-5 tour sets its course for the third event of the 2023 PBR Camping World Team Series season, let’s take a look at the starting lineups for Saturday night’s competition inside Honda Center (With action set to begin at 6:45 p.m. PDT on Pluto TV).
ANAHEIM STARTING LINEUPS
*Denotes a rematch
Missouri Thunder (1-4) vs. Oklahoma Freedom (3-2)
Joao Lucas Campos vs. Black Gold (Cooper/Scruggs Bucking Bulls)
Eli Vastbinder vs. Hank The Tank (Less Than 8 Cattle Co.)
Felipe Furlan vs. Sweet Train (D&H/Cattle Co/Gordon/OK Corralis)
Alex Cerqueira vs. Rodeo Thug (Farris/Garcia Rodeo Bulls)
Paulo Eduardo Rosset vs. Cut A Rug (Humpz and Hornz)
Elizmar Jeremias vs. Dirty Dave (Diamond Bar Cattle)
Luke Parkinson vs. Rump Thumper (M Rafter E/High View Cattle)
Thiago Salgado vs. Hostile (Diamond Bar Cattle/L&B Bucking Bulls)
Kade Madsen vs. Past Midnight (Humpz and Hornz)
Derek Kolbaba vs. Try Me (D&H Cattle Company)
MISSOURI RIDER TO WATCH: Easily one of the youngest squads within PBR Teams, the Missouri Thunder are continuing to see what its youthful core is made of, leaning on several first-year riders to make waves in Kade Madsen, Eduardo Matos and company. One of the talented youngsters, rookie Felipe Furlan made his PBR Teams debut Thursday evening in Kansas City but was unfortunately dispatched by Chateau Montelena’s Montana Jacket in 3.91 seconds. Covering his opponent during his last two matchups to close out the weekend, he teamed up with fellow rookie Joao Lucas Campos to help the squad secure its first win of the season (courtesy of an 87.25-point ride atop Roc Solid) and added an 87.5-point effort paired against Cuttin Torch to conclude his first event 2-for-3 overall. Set to dance with Sweet Train Saturday in Anaheim, the 21-year-old Brazilian talent will look to provide another spark inside Honda Center.
OKLAHOMA RIDER TO WATCH: While the Oklahoma Freedom have managed to produce a 3-2 record and No. 4 ranking through two events, they’re tied with the Arizona Ridge Riders with the second-fewest qualified rides at 4-for-25 (16%). With veterans Chase Outlaw and Casey Roberts currently designated to the team’s Injured Reserve unit, team captain Eli Vastbinder will look to improve on his 1-for-5 start to the season Saturday night during his matchup with Hank The Tank. As one of just three Freedom teammates to record a qualified ride in five games (Elizmar Jeremias, Derek Kolbaba), the 31-year-old leader hopes to build on his 87.75-point journey last weekend atop Norse God during the first game of the night.
Kansas City Outlaws (3-2) vs. Nashville Stampede (0-5)
Wingson Henrique da Silva vs. Brusta (Joe & Nina Webb/Julian/D&H Cattle Co)
Bruno Carvalho vs. Whiskey Throttle (Farris Cattle/Platinum Bull Company)
Cassio Dias vs. Magic Harbor (D&H Cattle Company)
Matt Triplett vs. No Cigar (D&H Cattle Co/Payson Parker)
Marcus Mast vs. Bank Roll (Cooper/Scruggs Bucking Bulls)
Jess Lockwood vs. DirtyBru (D&H Cattle Co/Gordon/OK Corralis)
Koltin Hevalow vs. Cherry Bomb Julio Moreno Bucking Bulls)
Alan de Souza vs. Pain Killer (Cooper/Scruggs Bucking Bulls)
Leonardo Castro Ferreira vs. Boo Man (D&H Cattle/Craig Moore)
Silvano Alves vs. Hell Storm (Julio Moreno/Bar CB)
KANSAS CITY RIDER TO WATCH: Recording the second 4-for-5 performance of the season while going on to secure its first event victory in franchise history, the Kansas City Outlaws are a team to be reckoned with this season. With Marcus Mast finishing things off inside T-Mobile Center with an exclamation mark (90 points atop Hoka Hey) to clinch the win, he’s an obvious candidate to keep an eye on this weekend, but seeing rookie Leonardo Castro Ferreira go 2-for-3 in Kansas City during his first 5-on-5 action makes a case for the 19-year-old to be this week’s rider to watch. Posting 87.75 (Yellowknife) and 89.25-point (Mike’s Motive) to close out the showcase, he’s got a chance to make it a three-out ride streak with a challenger awaiting in Boo Man.
NASHVILLE RIDER TO WATCH: After being traded to the Stampede last month, Jess Lockwood is primed to make his official PBR Teams debut Saturday night with Nashville. The two-time World Champion will return to competition for the first time since March 4 during a matchup against DirtyBru. In the three events he appeared at during last year’s UTB season, he placed Top 10 in three of the four, with second, fifth and eighth place finishes to his record, so if he’s able to show up and provide an immediate presence for Justin McBride and company, Nashville will better its odds of stealing one from one of the league’s hottest teams.
Arizona Ridge Riders (0-5) vs. Texas Rattlers (2-3)
*Nick Tetz vs. July (Leffew Bucking Bulls)
Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. Shot in the Dark (Leffew Bucking Bulls/Meza)
Davi Henrique de Lima vs. Baraka (M Rafter E Bucking Bulls)
*Brady Fielder vs. Manaba (Joe & Nina Webb/Julian/D&H Cattle Co)
Vitor Losnake vs. Bruisin’ (Leffew Bucking Bulls)
Dawson Gleaves vs. Kamikaze (Humpz and Hornz/ET Cattle)
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Sugar Bear (M Rafter E Bucking Bulls)
Braidy Randolph vs. Willi G (Less Than 8 Cattle Co.)
Keyshawn Whitehorse vs. Kid Knapper Phillips/Cooper/Scruggs Bucking Bulls)
Daniel Keeping vs. Doc Holiday (M Rafter E Bucking Bulls)
Brady Fielder vs. Manaba (2.55 seconds in Cheyenne, Wyoming)
Keyshawn Whitehorse vs. Kid Knapper (91 points in Tucson, Arizona; 2.34 seconds in Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Nick Tetz vs. July (5.37 seconds at 2023 World Finals: Unleash The Beast)
ARIZONA RIDER TO WATCH: Just over eight months ago, Keyshawn Whitehorse stared Kid Knapper down and conquered him for 91 points in Tucson, Arizona, tying the second-best mark of his career. Starting the season with an uncharacteristic 0-for-4 slate, he’s got a rematch with the bovine as he hopes to life his Arizona squad out of the doghouse after its 0-for-5 start. If there’s an animal athlete to motivate Whitehorse to get the job done, Kid Knapper’s got to be up there, but after dispatching the 26-year-old in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in a quick 2.34 seconds earlier this spring, does the bovine have the upper hand?
TEXAS RIDER TO WATCH: Earning last weekend’s event MVP honors as the only rider to go 3-for-3, veteran Joao Ricardo Vieira has a chance to not only stay hot for his own sake, but set to compete against Shot in the Dark in the leadoff spot for Texas, a chance to warm things up for his 3-2 Rattlers squad. Tied with the Carolina Cowboys at 10 qualified rides each, Texas has had seven different riders meet the 8-second whistle, but none more than JRV.
Carolina Cowboys (4-1) vs. Austin Gamblers (5-0)
Josh Frost vs. Smoke Down (D&H Cattle Company)
Dalton Kasel vs. Ram Jam (M Rafter E Bucking Bulls)
Trey Kimzey vs. Wild Bill (M Rafter E/Owens)
Ezekiel Mitchell vs. Sharp Shooter (Humpz and Hornz)
Sandro Batista vs. I’m Him (Leffew Bucking Bulls/Meza)
Ramon de Lima vs. Red Hot (Farris Cattle/Platinum Bull Company)
Cooper Davis vs. Savage Love (Farris Cattle/Platinum Bull Company)
Lucas Divino vs. Taylor’s Cowtown Throwdown (Triple T Livestock/Farris Cattle/Platinum Bull Co)
*Daylon Swearingen vs. Grey Smoke (Farris Cattle/Platinum Bull Company)
Jose Vitor Leme vs. Short Circuit (D&H Cattle/McWhorter)
Daylon Swearingen vs. Grey Smoke (89.5 points in Deadwood, South Dakota)
CAROLINA RIDER TO WATCH: Between falling to the same Austin squad last week, ending their perfect start to the season, and starting his campaign just 2-for-5, Daylon Swearingen has plenty of reasons to stick it to the No. 1 Gamblers team by taking advantage of a matchup with Grey Smoke. Going the distance the last time he climbed aboard his Saturday night opponent, he was scored a quality 89.5 points, and would likely welcome that this weekend as part of a team loaded with talent top to bottom. Can the 2022 World Champion make his way up the MVP standings while giving Carolina a boost against the Gamblers?
AUSTIN RIDER TO WATCH: When Dalton Kasel is feeling it, he’s one of the most competitive and capable bull riders in the league. Bad news for the seven other squads, because after posting a rank 91-point score last week dancing with DirtyBru, he’s now got the second-highest score to pair with a fruitful 3-for-4 start with Austin. Heading into Saturday’s showdown inside Honda Center, he’s set to attempt the 8 aboard Ram Jam as he, Leme and team hope to extend their unbeaten streak to six in Anaheim.
This weekend’s action in Anaheim, California, is set to begin Saturday, Aug. 12 at 6:45 p.m. PDT, as the Missouri Thunder and Oklahoma Freedom kick things off during the first of eight games set to take place inside Honda Center. With competition concluding on Championship Sunday, Aug. 13 at 1:45 p.m. PDT, the second and final neutral site event of the season will feature two days of 5-on-5 action while representing the third overall contest amongst the eight founding PBR Teams organizations in 2023.
Fans can tune into RidePass on Pluto TV Saturday, Aug. 12 beginning at 6:45 p.m. PDT to catching the opening four games live, while night two’s games are set to air on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. PDT. Fans can keep an eye on PBR.com and PBR social media channels for the latest news, scores, wrecks and more!
Photo courtesy of Josh Homer/Bull Stock Media
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