LAS VEGAS – The opening night of competition for the 2023 PBR (Professional Bul Riders) Camping World Teams Championship kept fans on the edge of their seats inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, as the No. 5 Arizona Ridge Riders and No. 4 Oklahoma Freedom rode to walk-off wins, advancing to the second-round of the tournament outright alongside the No. 3 Texas Rattlers, while the No. 8 Missouri Thunder stunned in the first Last Chance Game to keep their title hopes alive.
The second iteration of the league’s progressive elimination tournament began with back-to-back games won in walk-off fashion.
Competition inside T-Mobile Arena began with a showdown between the regular-season No. 5 Arizona Ridge Riders and No. 6 Carolina Cowboys.
The game began in electric fashion as both teams converted in the first, with 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis successful for Carolina and Chase Dougherty making the whistle for Arizona, giving the Cowboys a slim 5.75-point lead entering the second. Arizona took the lead in the bottom of the second by 79.75 points as Eduardo Aparecido logged his fifth qualified ride in as many attempts in the post season on the spurs of a Josh Frost buckoff for Carolina.
In the third, 2022 PBR World Champion Daylon Swearingen made a triumphant return, posting a game-best 88.75-point ride to give Carolina back the lead by 9 points. Their lead, however, was erased in the bottom of the fourth by Luciano de Castro, setting up a must-ride situation for Carolina in the top of the fifth. Seven-time PRCA champion Sage Steele Kimzey delivered under pressure for the Cowboys, making the 8 aboard Black Ice to give his team back a 10-point lead and force Arizona into a must-ride position. Under the bright lights of Las Vegas, Ridge Riders closer Keyshawn Whitehorse delivered his team the walk-off win by 78.5 points as he dominated Twisted Feather, with the final scoreboard reading an Arizona win, 344-265.5.
“The team put all of us in a position to win, and my job was to finish it,” Whitehorse said.
Via the win the Ridge Riders advanced to the second round of the tournament on Saturday, Oct. 22 where they will play the No. 2 Kansas City Outlaws, while the Carolina Cowboys took the first slot in the night’s last chance game.
The thrilling competition then continued in the second game as the No. 4 Oklahoma Freedom faced off against the No. 7 and league’s reigning Champion Nashville Stampede in a familiar post season showdown. The two teams had also squared off in the opening round of the 2022 PBR Teams Championship. In the most hotly contested game of the night, with the lead changing six times, the Freedom won the game in walk-off form by a slim 0.5 points with the final scoreboard reading 262-261.5.
After Alan de Souza gave Nashville an 85.75-point lead in the top of the first, Oklahoma overtook the lead by 2.5 points in the bottom of the frame as Elizmar Jeremias covered Fierce’s Dirt Nap for 88.25 points. Following a scoreless second, Ednelio Almeida returned Nashville to the top of the leaderboard by 85 points as he teamed with Midnight Magic for an 87.5-point ride. The game lead then changed hands for the fourth time in the bottom of the fourth, as Salgado put Oklahoma out front by 2.5 points compliments of an 87.5-point ride aboard July.
The score then forced a must-ride situation for Nashville in the top of the fifth. In the high-pressure situation was three-time PBR World Champion Silvano Alves tasked with Falcon Eddie by Nashville’s Head Coach Justin McBride. A poised Alves reached the 8 with ease, awarded 88.25 points to give Nashville an 85.75-point lead.
The game then came down to Oklahoma’s closer Caden Bunch atop Spooky. Unphased, Bunch nodded with confidence, converting for his team when it mattered most. Marked a crucial 86.25 points, Bunch’s 8-second effort was enough to deliver Oklahoma the walk-off win.
Oklahoma advanced to the second night of the tournament, while the Nashville Stampede turned to the first last chance game to keep their hopes of a back-to-back championship alive.
The final head-to-head game featured the No. 3 Texas Rattlers against the No. 8 Missouri Thunder. Riding to the game lead in the bottom of the first courtesy of a game-best score from Joao Ricardo Viera, Texas never looked back, clinching the game win early, and ultimately defeating Missouri by one ride score, 174-84.5.
The victory, Texas’ fourth consecutive in league play, punched their ticket to the next round of the Teams Championship, where they will play the No. 3 Oklahoma Freedom, while the loss sent Missouri to the first Last Chance Game.
With just a short window to reset, the Missouri Thunder quickly returned to the arena as they faced off against the No. 6 Carolina Cowboys and No. 7 Nashville Stampede in the tournament’s first Last Chance Game.
While the three-way showdown came down to the final outs, it was early scores from Missouri’s Furlan and Kade Madsen which proved enough to carry them to victory, ultimately upsetting both Carolina and Nashville by one ride score and eliminating them from the season-ending event.
Courtesy of the crucial win, the No. 8 Missouri Thunder kept their title hopes alive, next set to take on the No. 1 Austin Gamblers in a David vs. Goliath showdown.
The 2022 PBR Team Series Championship continues Saturday, October 21 at 7:45 p.m. PT when the following teams will face off:
No. 1 Austin Gamblers vs. No. 8 Missouri Thunder
No. 2 Kansas City Outlaws vs. No. 5 Arizona Ridge Riders
No. 3 Texas Rattlers vs. No. 4 Oklahoma Freedom
Second Last Chance Game (Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser vs. Game 3 Loser)
PBR RidePass on Pluto TV will offer replays of all the 2023 PBR Camping World Teams Championship action from Las Vegas. Check https://pluto.tv/en/live-tv/pbr-ridepass for the latest programming schedule.
Arizona Ridge Riders Defeat Carolina Cowboys in Walk-Off Form to Advance to the Second Round of the 2023 PBR Camping World Teams Championship
Arizona Ridge Riders: 344
Carolina Cowboys: 265.5
LAS VEGAS – As the 2023 PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Camping World Teams Championship got underway Friday night in Las Vegas, the regular-season No. 5 Arizona Ridge Riders delivered a thrilling walk-off win against the No. 6 Carolina Cowboys, defeating them by 78.5 points to advance to the second round of the progressive elimination tournament. The Carolina Cowboys began the game in commanding form. Opener Cooper Davis (Buna, Texas) remained in perfect time with Caesar (Jenkins Cattle Co.) matching him jump-for-jump, including a mid-out direction change, en route to the requisite 8 to give Carolina an early 88.5-point lead. In the bottom of the frame, the Arizona Ridge Riders turned to Chase Dougherty (Decatur, Texas) atop Bandito Bug (Chris Utz/Carey Brothers/Mike Chaney/Blake Sharp) to put them on the board in the first. While Dougherty delivered a score, his 82.75-point effort was not enough to put Arizona out front, with Carolina carrying a 5.75-point lead into the second. In the top of the second, Josh Frost (Randlett, Utah) initially appeared centered atop Nefarious (Viducic Bucking Bulls/Jess Lockwood), but was unable to extend Carolina’s lead, sent airborne in a close 7.2 seconds. The buckoff opened the door for Arizona to overtake the lead in the bottom of the second. After a brief struggle in the chutes, Eduardo Aparecido (Itatinga, Brazil) nodded with confidence atop JAG Metals Hard Way (Paige Stout Bucking Bulls/Philip Elkins), making the 8 with ease and snapping the bull’s 18-0 unridden streak. Awarded 85.5 points, Arizona surged to a 79.75-point lead ahead of the third frame. The ride was the fifth for Aparecido in as many attempts at all iterations of the PBR Teams Championship, as he continues to be one of the team’s top performers in the post season. In the top of the third, 2022 PBR World Champion Daylon Swearingen (Piffard, New York) looked to reverse Carolina’s momentum, matched with Lights Out (Hawkins Bucking Bulls/Premier Ag) by Carolina’s Head Coach Jerome Davis. The out marked Swearingen’s return to the lineup having been plagued with injury during the regular season which sidelined him for 20 games. Dialed in, Swearingen dominated his animal athlete opponent, marked 88.785 points. The qualified ride put Carolina back ahead by 9 points as Vitor Losnake (Bauru, Brazil) settled in atop the unridden Mahan (Jane Clark/Gene Owen). Losnake, however, was unable to snap the bull’s buckoff streak, brought down in 5.77 seconds. In the top of the fourth, Carolina’s Head Coach Davis used his challenge after Trevor Kastner (Ardmore, Oklahoma) was called for a buckoff aboard UTZ BesTex Smokestack (Blake Sharp/Chris Utz/Carey Brothers) believing the bull fouled himself. Upon review by PBR’s officials, they discovered no foul, keeping the no score in place and leaving Carolina without a challenge for the remainder of the game. In the bottom of the fourth, Luciano De Castro (Guzolandia, Brazil) rose to the occasion for Arizona, in his rematch with Bubba G (Dakota Rodeo/Brian & Ashley Pintar/Clay Struve/Chad Berger). Castro may have bucked off the bull at the season-launch event in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but on Friday night inside T-Mobile Arena he reached the whistle, scored 87.25 points to give Arizona back the lead by 78.25 points. In the top of the fifth, seven-time PRCA champion Sage Steele Kimzey (Strong City, Oklahoma) was in a must-ride situation for Carolina as the team’s final rider to nod his head. Delivering under the bright lights in Sin City, Kimzey delivered a near picture-perfect ride aboard Black Ice (BMC Bucking Bulls/Jenkins Cattle Co.), awarded 88.25 points to put Carolina back in the lead by 10 points. The game then came down to Arizona’s closer Keyshawn Whitehorse (McCracken Spring, Utah) tasked with Twisted Feather (Blake Sharp/Michael Floyd/Cain Kobert). Erupting from the chutes, Whitehorse appeared to have reached the requisite 8 as his team celebrated atop the bucking chutes, however the team’s challenge flag quickly was thrown with the in-arena clock having stopped prior to 8 seconds for an apparent slap. Upon review, PBR’s officials found no slap, awarding Whitehorse an 88.5-point score and delivering Arizona the walk-off win in the first round of the post season tournament. When the dust settled the final scoreboard read a 78.5-point Ridge Rider victory, 344-265.5. Via the win, the Arizona Ridge Riders will take on the No. 2 Kansas City Outlaws when the PBR Teams Championship continues Saturday, October 21, while the loss sent the Carolina Cowboys to the first last chance game to keep their hopes of a team title alive.