WINSTON SALEM, N.C. ― To steal a famous line from Yogi Berra, at first glance you can't help to think "it's déjà vu all over again" when you see the current PBR world standings.
It's sort of expected to see two-time defending World Champion Silvano Alves atop the list.
His consistency since arriving in the United States - he has a career riding average of 66.93 percent on the Built Ford Tough Series - is enough to expect the 25-year-old to be the No. 1 ranked professional bull rider in the world.
However, beyond that, there is so much different this year.
And it's going to change this coming Tuesday.
Tuesdays are an important day when it comes to looking at the world standings. Yes, the points are updated at the end of every BFTS event, but Tuesday is when the standings reflect 25 percent of the points riders earned at Touring Pro Division events over the previous seven-day period.
This coming Tuesday afternoon fans will see a familiar newcomer ascend up the standings - Joseph McConnel.
Wednesday night, in Denver, Colo., the 18-year-old won the TPD event.
The youngster maintained his poise and held off three former World Champions - Mike Lee, Kody Lostroh and Guilherme Marchi - to win the event and position himself to likely be in the Top 35 of the world standings in two weeks from now when the BFTS draw is set by the current standings.
He scored 89 points on Western Show in the Championship Round to edge out Lee by one point on a 3-for-3 effort and cashed in a $24,000 check. He scored 86.5 points in both Rounds 1 and 2.
McConnel is no stranger to the PBR.
His older brother Ryan, who is in Winston-Salem, N.C., this weekend for the BFTS event, first qualified for the World Finals in 2008 and Joseph began regularly coming along with him to BFTS events in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Back then there was a lot of talk about how strong he was - a fact that Austin Meier confirmed - and good he was. Ryan confirmed that by proudly sharing one video after another the same way a first-time father shows photos of his newborn son.
First, he was 14 and you couldn't help but think four years is an awful long time in the future. Then he was still coming around and still showing videos when he was 15 and 16, but he still had another two years before he could turn pro.
Last summer he turned 18.
As it stands he'll make his BFTS debut before he even turns 19 on May 11.
One of the great advantages he'll have is that event at 14, 15, 16 and 17 he seemed comfortable standing on the back of the bucking chutes alongside the top riders in the world. Granted, it'll be a different deal when you're competing against them week-in and week-out, but if his performance in Denver is any indication, the younger McConnel isn't intimidated by the presence of former World Champions, much less the rest of the Top 35.
He's a young kid, who has been featured and profiled on www.pbr.com, that has showed promise and potential throughout his amateur career and, at least to this point, it's carried over into his professional career.
Another more noticeable change (once you really look at the standings) is the overall point totals.
For instance, coming into this weekend's BFTS event in Winston-Salem, Alves has scored 1,709.91 points and holds a 437.29 point advantage over Douglas Duncan, who is second with 1,272.62 points.
Some might wonder how the awkward totals are possible - I know I did when I first saw them - if scores are still awarded by quarter points.
The easiest explanation is this: let's say a rider makes the whistle one time at a TPD event and scores 80.25 points. If those are the only points he scores at the event he will have 25 percent of that (or 20.06 points) added to his world standings total.
It's simple. It makes sense. But it's different.
More importantly, the new system of calculating the standings better reflects an accurate list from top to bottom-which is why the riders universally supported the change.
Despite any changes on thing is certain, Alves will again be among the top contenders.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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