Apr 16, 2023, 2:18 pm
By: Slade Long
A while back I posted a graphic which is pretty hard to understand, so here's an explanation.
At any event, the number of qualified rides you end up with is a product of how well matched the riders and the bulls at that event is. For most events the matchups are randomly drawn, so when you have a group of good riders and a group of rideable bulls, you get a lot of high percentage matchups. If you have weaker riders and stronger bulls, you get more low percentage matchups. This translates directly to more or fewer qualified rides.
In the graphic, I'm using matchups with 40% or greater chance of a qualified ride as "high quality" matchups, and I'm measuring how often these happen at different types of events or groups of events. The yellow highlighted column shows this.
One of the key features of PBR Teams competition is that the teams have the opportunity to set their own matchups, theoretically maximizing qualified rides for their team. Because the vast majority of other events are more or less random draw, this gives us a chance to measure the effectiveness of team strategies. and the overall effectiveness of cherry-picked matchups in producing qualified rides.
The data shows that in the PRCA, high quality matchups happen 9% to 10% of the time organically. At the NFR this jumps to 25.68% largely because of a higher quality pool of riders. Slightly lower in recent years at UTB events. Half the PBR Teams in 2022 were able to beat the NFR numbers, and most of them beat the UTB numbers. Teams competition overall beat the UTB 2022 numbers by creating more high percentage matchups and converting them into more qualified rides. But not by that much. The UTB riding percentage in 2022 was 32.3% and Teams got to 34.6%. From the perspective of Teams, there is room for improvement, and they have two avenues for that - signing better riders and optimizing matchups.
Outside of the Teams angle, what does this mean to the rest of the bull riding world? Well, there are many thinking about how to create better matchups at events and end up with more qualified rides without necessarily cherry-picking every matchup. This gives us a tool to keep track of that.