There are certainly plenty of intriguing stories to follow as the 2012 Professional Bull Riders (PBR) World Finals returns to Las Vegas this week October 24-28. Can 2011 World Champion Silvano Alves make history by becoming the first bull rider to repeat as champion in back-to-back years? Will Bushwacker complete his comeback from injury earlier this season and repeat as World Champion Bull? Can two-time World Champion Chris Shivers give the fans one last great show in his final World Finals appearance before retirement?
All questions will be answered during the five performances at the Thomas & Mack Arena on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV). The top 39 bull riders in the world will compete for a share of $2.2 million. All championships will be awarded at the conclusion of the Championship Round on Sunday, October 28.
The race for the World Championship amongst the riders is shaping up to be one of the best in history. Only 505 points separated Alves from second ranked Valdiron de Oliveira as the two men will battle again as they did in 2011 at the World Finals for the title.
However, they will face tough competition as mathematically the top 14 riders all have a chance at the title. Three former World Finals champions lurk behind the top two with L.J. Jenkins (2006) only 1145.25 points behind Alves, 2008 PBR World Champ Guilherme Marchi (2005 Finals Champ) and J.B. Mauney (2009) are just about 1500 points back.
Although qualification to the World Finals is based on money earned during the season, world standings are calculated on a point system. All riders receive points equal to their scores for each ride along with bonus points for placing in go rounds and averages.
At the World Finals, a go round win is worth 400 points and the average win another 2,500 points. With six go rounds–five long rounds plus the Championship Round–plus round scores, there are 5,500 points available during the World Finals. Of course, that would require a rider score a perfect 100 on six straight rides, something that will not happen in the PBR today, but still leaves plenty of room for a rider to make up points and move up the standings.
By contrast, the World Champion Bull is a sudden death competition at the World Finals. The top 35 riders in the standings voted on the top five bulls with PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert choosing two more bulls to compete at the finals for the title. Each bull will make two trips during the first and last rounds in Las Vegas. The best combined score on the two outs will determine the champion.
Bushwacker leads the way for the second year despite missing the first eight events of the season due to injury. He has bucked off 33 straight riders in the Built Ford Tough series. the PBR’s elite level of competition. If he stays unridden at the 2012 World Finals, he will match the record of consecutive buck-offs currently held by Silver Wings. En route to his title a year ago, Bushwacker was marked 48.5 points (out of a possible 50) during his opening round.
Other World Champion Bull contenders are 2011 Reserve Champ Asteroid, Smackdown, Buckey, David’s Dream, Lightmaker.com’s Rango and Rock & Roll.
All races kick off with Round 1 on Wednesday, October 24 at 6 p.m. Pacific time. All perfomances begin at the same time with the exception of Sunday, October 28 which starts at 11:30 a.m. Television coverage is provided by CBS Sports Network (Rounds 1 and 2), NBC Sports Network (Rounds 3 and 4) and NBC (Round 5 and Championship Round).