Playoff Impact: Fast Facts about the NFR Playoff Series

September's NFR Playoff Series finale in Puyallup, Washington, is an event that has huge potential to alter the Top 15 qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Photograph by Avid Visual Imagery/Phil Kitts

September's NFR Playoff Series finale in Puyallup, Washington, is an event that has huge potential to alter the Top 15 qualifiers to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Back in June, Reno Rodeo kicked off the lucrative summer run as well as more talk of NFR Playoff Series standings since 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?

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Here’s the 411 on all things NFR Playoff Series.

1. What is the NFR Playoff Series?

The NFR Playoff Series is the most recent incarnation of what has been known by various names in recent years but was called the ProRodeo Tour in 2021. Standings are kept throughout the season and there is a championship event at the end of the year.

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 there are 53 rodeos in the Series, 21 of which happen between the Reno Rodeo at the end of June 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?

Although in the past contestants were required to compete in a minimum number of events in order to advance to the championship event, that requirement has been 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 September 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 forced the cancellation in 2020, forcing 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, to be held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 13-16.

NFR Playoff Series leader Jordon Briggs and Famous Lil Jet make a winning run in Vernal, Utah, to add more points to their tally. Photograph by Michael Pintar Photography

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 September 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 Breakaway.

The $17,901 that Nellie Miller won at the 2021 NFR Playoff Series finale in Salinas punched her ticket to last year’s NFR. Ranked No. 34 in the WPRA World Standings as of August 9 with $35,379, Miller will likely be chasing a big check at this year’s NFR Playoff Series finale as well as all the money she can gather up in the final stretch of the regular season. Similarly, Margo Crowther is No. 15 in the NFR Playoff Series and No. 16 in the World, so a strong showing in Puyallup could be absolutely pivotal to her season.

10. Who’s leading now?

A pair of WPRA World Champions are leading the ladies’ events. World Champion Jordon Briggs has earned 5,505.9 points in the barrel racing while Erin Johnson has 4,555.92 in the breakaway roping.

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Editor’s Note: NFR Playoff standings last updated July 28, 2022 through Salinas. We will follow up and post current standings as soon as they become available.