Oklahoma Freedom to play Austin Gamblers and Kansas City Outlaws in team’s inaugural preseason games in new PBR Team Series

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Oklahoma’s first-ever professional bull riding team, the Oklahoma Freedom, will begin their quest for the first PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Team Series Championship this weekend, as the preseason for the inaugural PBR Team Series season gets underway June 17-18 in Bismarck, North Dakota, with competition beginning nightly at 7:30 p.m. CT.

The Freedom are one of eight founding teams in the new PBR Team Series – playing five-on-five bull riding games to crown a team champion Nov. 4-6 in Las Vegas.

Ahead of the competition, below is a breakdown of the event format, daily matchups, starting roster and more.

NOTE: The league’s two preseason events in June do not affect the PBR Team Series Championship race and standings. These games are strictly exhibitions for the eight teams to prepare for the upcoming 10-event regular season which begins July 25 with neutral site games in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and culminates in the championship tournament in Las Vegas in November.


FORMAT: During the preseason event in Bismarck, each of the eight founding teams for the PBR Team Series will compete in a head-to-head, five-on-five bull riding game each day of competition. There are four games on Friday and four more on Saturday with each team selecting five riders to match up against the five bulls assigned to their team. The team with the highest aggregate score will be the game winner, and ties will be allowed. Following their initial game on Friday, the same process will be repeated on the second night of competition, with each team facing a new opponent.

Following the second round of games, the final day of the preseason events will feature a Bonus Round with each team selecting one rider attempting one more bull. This rider does not have to be one of the five riders who competed earlier in his team’s respective games and instead can be an alternate (bench) rider. The Bonus Round is independent of the results of that weekend’s previous games and only applies to the overall event standings in the case of a tie. Teams receive bonus points based on their rider’s placement in the Bonus Round: 1st (8 points), 2nd (7 points), 3rd (6 points), 4th (5 points), 5th (4 points), 6th (3 points), 7th (2 points), 8th (1 point). Teams will be placed via ride score and then buckoff time. 

The overall event-winning team at each preseason stop will be the team with the best overall win-loss record. In the event of a tie in the event standings, a team’s bonus points will be the first tiebreaker. If there is still a tie, the second tiebreaker will be the team’s total aggregate score from its two games. The next and final tiebreaker will be combined buckoff time from a team’s games.  


OPPONENT – JUNE 17: During the opening day of games for the PBR Team Series Preseason on June 17 in Bismarck, North Dakota, the Oklahoma Freedom will play the Austin Gamblers in Game 2.

OPPONENT – JUNE 18: Following their game against the Austin Gamblers on Friday, June 17, the Oklahoma Freedom will face off against the Kansas City Outlaws in Game 7 on Saturday, June 18. Teams have the ability to change their roster between games. The rosters for the Oklahoma Freedom vs. Kansas City Outlaws will be made available prior to the start of the game.

NOTE: For a complete list of all the game matchups scheduled for the Bismarck preseason event, click here.



(Note: Each rider and bull’s name are hyperlinked to their PBR.com bio page with additional competition stats and history.)


Head Coach Cord McCoy: Six-time PBR World Finals qualifier turned stock contractor Cord McCoy will lead the Oklahoma Freedom as Head Coach. During McCoy’s career, he finished inside the world’s Top 50 six times, registering 10 event wins and 10 90-point rides across all levels of competition. Following his retirement, in addition to making three appearances on The Amazing Race, McCoy grew his stock contracting business into one of bull riding’s most elite outfits. In 2022, Ridin Solo became McCoy’s first-ever World Champion Bucking Bull, joined inside the world’s Top 10 by fellow pen mate Cliffhanger.

Eli Vastbinder (Statesville, North Carolina) vs. Off Campus

Caden Bunch (Tahlequah, Oklahoma) vs. Drago

Kyle McDaniel (Fort Worth, Texas) vs. Skeeter Peter

Deklan Garland (Foster, Oklahoma) vs. Big Black Cat

Briggs Madsen (Tremonton, Utah) vs. Soup in a Group


PBR Insider Justin Felisko’s Rider to Watch: Oklahoma General Manager Brandon Bates has exceptionally high praise, as well as expectations, for Briggs Madsen, who is taking his first stab at the PBR. The Utah native overcame a career-threatening broken back his sophomore year of high school to win the 2018 Utah High School Rodeo Association Bull Riding championship as a senior. Madsen also took a two-year break from bull riding after his high school title to become a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Carolina. Madsen slowly got back into bull riding towards the end of 2020, but now he feels he is truly ready to ride full-time. How high is Bates on Madsen? Well, Bates compared Madsen to what he saw in an 18-year-old Jess Lockwood six years ago. For more from PBR Insider Justin Felisko, click here.



(Note: Each rider and bull’s name are hyperlinked to their PBR.com bio page with additional competition stats and history.)


Head Coach Michael Gaffney: PBR legend and Central Texas resident Michael Gaffney will lead the Austin Gamblers as Head Coach. The New Mexico native is one of the original founders of PBR in 1992. As an athlete, he won the 1997 PBR World Championship and was inducted into the PBR Ring of Honor in 2005.

Dakota Louis (Browning, Montana) vs. Bubba G

Conner Halverson (Gordon, Nebraska) vs. The Punisher

Alex Marcilio (Macaubal, Brazil) vs. Gambini

Blake Smith (Abbey, Saskatchewan, Canada) vs. Dagger

Griffin Smeltzer (Claresholm, Alberta, Canada vs. Born To Sin


PBR Insider Justin Felisko’s Rider to Watch: The Gamblers will showcase two Canadian riders – Griffin Smeltzer and Blake Smith – riding on Friday night before they head north to Canada to compete at the PBR Canada Cup Series event in Brandon, Manitoba, on Saturday night. The Gamblers will likely substitute Elijah Mora and Ezekiel Mitchell into their lineup for their game against Nashville on Saturday night. For more from PBR Insider Justin Felisko, click here.


HOW TO WATCH: RIDEPASS on PlutoTV will televise all the action from PBR Team Series Preseason Event in Bismarck, North Dakota, LIVE. Coverage on channel 720 will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET on both Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18.


ENGAGE WITH THE FREEDOM: For more information about Oklahoma Freedom, visit https://pbr.com/teams/freedom/, Oklahoma Freedom on Facebook, @OK_Freedom_ on Instagram, or @OKfreedom_ on Twitter.


ASSETS & INTERVIEWS: Following each game, photo and video assets of the Oklahoma Freedom will be made available. Remote interviews with team leadership, including Head Coach Cord McCoy, and competing riders will also be made available upon request.


About the Oklahoma Freedom:

The Oklahoma Freedom are based at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, joining team tenants including the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, and their G League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue, where the team will hold its inaugural Oklahoma Freedom Fest homestand September 16-18, 2022, the 8th regular season event of the 10-event PBR Team Series 2022 regular season. The Freedom are coached by Oklahoma native Cord McCoy, a former bull rider and four-time qualifier for PBR World Finals. Under the leadership of General Manager Brandon Bates, the team is operated by Prodigal, a full-service sports and entertainment agency based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The senior staff at Prodigal has more than 100 years of experience managing sport and entertainment events and teams. PBR and Prodigal have a longstanding relationship dating to 2007, partnering annually on Unleash The Beast events in the Sooner State.


About the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Team Series:

The PBR Team Series is an elite new league that will feature the world’s top bull riders competing on teams in five-on-five bull riding games during an 11-event season beginning in July and culminating in a team championship at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas November 4-6.  During the 2022 season, each of the eight teams representing teams in Austin, TX; Fort Worth, TX; Glendale, AZ; Kansas City, MO; Nashville, TN; Oklahoma City, OK; Ridgedale, MO; and Winston-Salem, NC will host a three-day homestand.  There will also be neutral site games in Cheyenne, WY and Anaheim, CA. To determine team rosters, the league held a rider draft on May 23 prior to start of the 2022 season among any bull riders who have declared for the draft during a league eligibility window. The PBR Team Series builds on the existing structure of professional bull riding with the same basic rules for judging and scoring qualified 8-second bull rides. Events will be staged in a tournament-style format with all teams competing in head-to-head matchups against a different opponent each day. Each game will feature five riders per team squaring off against another team. Full team rosters will be comprised of seven riders on the core roster and three practice squad members. The team with the highest aggregate score of qualified rides among its riders will be declared the winner of each game. The event winner will be the team with the most game wins across an event, with a special bonus round designed as a tie-breaker to determine final event standings. All PBR Team Series events will be carried on either the CBS Television Network, streaming live on Paramount+, CBS Sports Network, or RidePass on Pluto TV.