PUEBLO, Colo. – The Built Ford Tough Series regular season may be officially over, but the race to the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals is still very much unsettled.
The Top 35 in the world standings will not be finalized until after the BlueDEF Finals, and there are five PBR wild card positions for the World Finals up for grabs this coming weekend at South Point Arena in Las Vegas.
Fans can watch all of the action from the BlueDEF Finals exclusively on PBR LIVE.
Here is a breakdown of how the final five wild card positions for the World Finals will be determined, as well as how many points toward the world standings are up for grabs.
INTERNATIONAL INVITE (1): There are four international invites competing at the BlueDEF Finals: 2016 PBR Australia Champion Cody Heffernan, 2016 PBR Brazil Champion Dener Barbosa, PBR Mexico invite Juan Carlos Contreras and two-time Canadian Pro Rodeo Association bull riding champion Dakota Buttar.
Buttar is replacing 2016 PBR Canada Champion Ty Pozzobon, who is missing the BlueDEF Tour Finals because of a riding hand injury. Pozzobon expects to ride at the World Finals and is currently 30th in the world standings.
The international invite that finishes the highest at the BlueDEF Finals will receive an invitation to compete at the World Finals.
In the event that all international invites are bucked off at the BlueDEF Finals, the international invite who is ranked highest in the PBR World Standings, and not already qualified for the PBR World Finals as a Top 35 bull rider, will receive the wild card spot.
Buttar and Heffernan are also easily within striking distance of the Top 35. Buttar is 37th in the world standings and is 28.34 points behind No. 35 Fraser Babbington. Heffernan, 38th in the world standings, is 30.84 points behind Babbington.
If the top finishing international invite ends up ranked inside the Top 35 of the world standings, then the international wild card spot at the World Finals will be filled by the next highest-finishing international invite at the BlueDEF Finals.
BLUEDEF TOUR INVITES (4): Four riders from the BlueDEF Tour will receive an invitation to compete at the World Finals at the conclusion of the BlueDEF Finals.
The top two-ranked riders from the BlueDEF Tour standings, who are not already qualified for the PBR World Finals, will receive an invitation to compete at the World Finals.
For example, right now those two riders would be BlueDEF Tour leader Emilio Resende and Keyshawn Whitehorse, who is third in the BlueDEF Tour standings. Whitehorse would get the final bid because BlueDEF No. 2 Derek Kolbaba is already ranked inside the Top 35 of the world standings.
Once those two positions are filled, the final two Wild Card spots for the World Finals will come from the BlueDEF Tour Finals event results.
The top two finishing riders in the BlueDEF Finals, who are not already qualified for the World Finals, will receive an invitation to compete in the World Finals, provided that such rider(s) finished in the Top 5 in the BlueDEF Finals event results.
If the Top-5 finishers at the BlueDEF Finals have already qualified for the World Finals, then the remaining two positions will be filled based off the final BlueDEF Tour standings.
FORMAT/POINTS AVAILABLE: The BlueDEF Finals will consist of three long rounds and a 10-rider championship round.
World points earned within the event (not aggregate/average ride scores) will determine event place/winners, just like a Built Ford Tough Series event.
One rider can earn 520 world points if he were to sweep the competition by winning every round and the event average.
The Top 6 riders in each round earn points toward the world standings – 80, 50, 30, 20, 15, 10.
The Top 10 riders in the event average earn points toward the world standings – 200, 125, 75, 50, 40, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5.
SPECIAL INVITES AT THE BLUEDEF FINALS: There are seven additional invites this weekend.
The current PRCA bull riding champion: Sage Kimzey
The current College National Finals Rodeo bull riding champion: Cody Hudson
The current Indian National Finals Rodeo bull riding champion: Ryan Roberts
The 2016 Touring Pro Division champion: Cody Nance
PBR Executive Competition Committee Injury exemptions: Matt Triplett, J.W. Harris and Alexander Cardozo.
TOP 35 UPDATE: The Top 35 of the world standings has changed since the conclusion of the Built Ford Tough Series regular-season finale in Tucson, Arizona.
Ben Jones, who was previously 28th in the world standings, had his membership revoked by the PBR’s Executive Competition Committee this week.
Therefore, Jones has been removed from the world standings, moving Fraser Babbington up to No. 35 in the world standings.
Babbington is in the hunt to become the first New Zealand bull rider to qualify for the World Finals. He leads No. 36 Nathan Schaper by 7.5 points.
Both riders are competing at the BlueDEF Tour Finals.
In fact, there are 11 riders at the BlueDEF Finals within 200 points of Babbington.
There are also 11 of the Top 35 riders in the world riding at the South Point Arena, including No. 7 Fabiano Vieira and 2004 World Champion Mike Lee. Vieira is only 2,430.84 points behind world leader Kaique Pacheco.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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