In June, Reno Rodeo kicked off the lucrative summer run, as well as a lot of NFR Playoff Series standings talk—10 NFR Playoff Rodeos took place between Reno and the end of the Fourth of July run. But what is the NFR Playoff Series and why is it important to ProRodeo competitors?
Here’s the 4-1-1 on all things NFR Playoff Series:
1. What is the NFR Playoff Series?
The NFR Playoff Series is the most recent incarnation of what was called the ProRodeo Tour in 2021, though it’s been known by multiple names in the past. Standings are kept throughout the season and there is a championship NFR Playoff event at the end of the season.
2. Which rodeos are in the Series?
The NFR Playoff Series encompasses the major events on ProRodeo’s schedule; rodeos like RodeoHouston, the Calgary Stampede, and the Ellensburg (Washington) Rodeo. In 2022, 53 rodeos are in the Series, 21 of which were scheduled between June’s Reno Rodeo and Cheyenne Frontier Days at the end of July.
3. How do contestants get into the standings?
The NFR Playoff Series standings are points based. There are three levels of points based upon the total purse money of a given rodeo.
- Top Tier — more than $650,000 total purse
- Middle Tier — between $649,999 and $325,000
- Bottom Tier — less than $324,999
Points are distributed to each rodeo down to 40th place based on the fastest time or highest score. For rodeos with multiple rounds, the points are calculated based on the average. Tournament rodeos are more complicated, but points are assigned based on how far each competitor advanced through the tournament.
4. What are the max points available at any given rodeo?
Top Tier awards 1,500 points to the top contestant. Middle Tier maxes out at 750 points, while the Bottom Tier gives 500 points to the champ.
5. What other rules apply?
Contestants are penalized for entering and not competing at NFR Playoff Series rodeos. A turnout results in a 50-point deduction from a competitor’s total Series points.
6. Is there a minimum number of required events?
In the past, contestants were required to compete in a minimum number of events to advance to the championship event, but that requirement was waived in 2022.
7. What’s the deal with the championship?
The NFR Playoff will be held in Puyallup, Washington, with the Washington State Fair & Rodeo on Sept. 8-11, 2022. Puyallup previously hosted the Justin Boots Playoffs—the championship for the former Tour—for several decades, the last time coming in 2019 before COVID-19 forced the cancellation in 2020, which forced the event to move to Rapid City in 2020 and Salinas in 2021.
8. Who qualifies for the NFR Playoff?
The top 23 in the NFR Playoff Series standings in each event, including the WPRA breakaway roping, will advance to compete in the NFR Playoff. The 24th position will go to the winners of each event at the 2022 NFR Open, the national championship event for the 2021 ProRodeo circuits, which was held on July 13–16 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
9. What’s at stake?
The NFR Playoff has announced a total payout of $1 million. Given that the event will happen two weeks prior to the end of the ProRodeo season on Sept. 30, it will have huge potential to impact which contestants finish inside the top 15 of their respective event standings and therefore qualify to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and Wrangler National Finals of Breakaway.
10. Who’s leading now?
As of the Sept. 1, 2022, update, Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira lead the team ropers with 10034.53 pts points each.