LAS VEGAS – In the final game of the 2023 PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Camping World Team Series season, the Texas Rattlers went a near perfect 4-for-5 to upset the Austin Gamblers and be crowned the 2023 PBR Teams Champions. In one of the highest-scoring games of the progressive elimination tournament, Texas and Austin combined to ride 70% of the bulls in the Championship Game.
As the game begun, the No. 3 Rattlers were the underdog against the No. 1 Gamblers, defeated by their instate rivals in three of their four meetings this season. But the Rattlers entered the showdown with momentum on their side, amid a six-game win streak, which included a victory against the Gamblers during their early October homestand in Fort Worth, Texas. In the opening frame of the game, both teams looked to their stalwart openers, with veteran Joao Ricard Vieira (Itatinga, Brazil) out first for Texas, and 2019 PBR Rookie of the Year Dalton Kasel (Muleshoe, Texas) in the leadoff role for the Gamblers. Vieira set the tone early for the Rattlers, delivering his fourth ride in as many attempts atop Outlaw (Big Sky Bulls, LLC/McCoy Rodeo) to give Texas an early 88.75-point lead. The ride also clinched the PBR Teams Championship MVP event title and $10,000 bonus for Vieira, having gone a perfect 4-for-4 across the three-day tournament, to finish 3.25 points ahead of the Missouri Thunder’s Felipe Furlan (Sales Oliveira, Brazil).
As the Rattlers celebrated across the arena, Kasel nodded aboard Roc Wit It (K-C Bucking Bulls JoZ Bucking Bulls) but was denied a score, hitting the ground in 4.19 seconds. The Rattlers continued to ride red-hot in the second. Brady Fielder (Clermont, Queensland, Australia) burst from the chutes aboard Ah Hell (Cooper/Scruggs Bucking Bulls), matching him jump-for-jump en route to the 8-second whistle. Awarded an 87.25-point score, Fielder grew Texas’ lead to two scores and 176 points. Austin, however, wouldn’t remain shut out for long.
In the bottom of the frame, Rafael dos Santos (Quitman, Georgia) teamed with Mike’s Motive (Blake Sharp/High Voltage/Wetzel/Knott) for a commanding 89.5-point score, diminishing the Rattlers’ lead to 86.5 points. The Rattlers then looked to Brady Oleson (Blackfoot, Idaho) to add to their lead in the top of the third, tasked with Hunter (Dozier Cattle Co./Martinez Bucking Bulls) by Head Coach Cody Lambert. Oleson initially appeared centered, but was sent airborne in a hard-fought 5.48 seconds, opening the door for the Gamblers to overtake the lead in the bottom of the third. Austin made the whistle in the very next out, but Lucas Divino’s (Nova Crixas, Brazil) 86-point ride atop Skippy (Skippy & Linda Johnson/Hookin’ W Ranch) was not enough to surge to the top of the leaderboard. As the fourth frame began, Texas held a slim 0.5-point lead. Next out for the white-hot roster was Cody Jesus (Window Rock, Arizona). Less than 24 hours after a wreck in the Semifinals, Jesus rebounded in resilient form, topping Tijuana Two-Step (Blake Sharp/Michael Floyd) for a crucial 88.75 points to grow the Rattlers lead to 89.25 points.
In the bottom of the penultimate round of outs, Austin stumbled, failing to keep pace with their instate rivals when Ramon de Lima (Rio Branco, Brazil) was tossed by Short Circuit (D&H Cattle/McWhorter) in 3.53 seconds. Via the buckoff, the Rattlers had the chance to clinch the game win early in the top of the fifth. Should they cover, they would pull ahead by two ride scores, with the Gamblers having just one rider left. In the high-pressure scenario was closer Daniel Keeping (Montague, Texas). After careful preparation in the chutes atop Red River (Ty Rinaldo TZ Bucking Bulls), Keeping called for the gate. Remaining in perfect time with the powerful animal athlete, Keeping reached the requisite 8 with ease, immediately bursting into celebration following his dismount. The monstrous, and game-best 90.5-point score clinched the game win for Texas as they completed their upset victory against the Austin Gamblers to be crowned the 2023 PBR Teams Champions. While the game had been decided, Austin elected to attempt their final out – closer Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) atop Sugar Smack (Blake Sharp/Chris Utz/Carey Brothers). The Gamblers may have lost the year-end title, but Leme allowed the squad to conclude the season with a qualified ride as he made the whistle for 89.75 points. When the dust settled, the Rattlers won the 2023 PBR Teams Championship by 90 points, with the final scoreboard reading 355.25-265.25.
Press release and footage provided by @PBR
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