8-team PBL 3 to kick off Dec 22

CHENNAI: Confirming news put out by SportzPower , the third edition of the Vodafone Premier Badminton League will be an eight-team affair with the addition of two franchises from Ahmedabad and Guwahati.

The Ahmedabad team, owned by Padmanabh Sports Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Padmanabh Industries Ltd, will be known as the Ahmedabad Smash Masters while the Guwahati team has been baptized as the Guwahati Eastern Warriors, the organisers said here Wednesday at an event announcing the third season of the popular league.

Organised under the aegis of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) by Sportzlive and Entertainment Pvt Ltd, the official license holders of the league, the new season will begin on December 22, and conclude on January 14, 2018.  

PBL 3 will be played in four cities across India in a rolling format with Chennai hosting the semis and finals: the remaining four expected to play host next season.

Expressing his delight at the expansion, BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “I welcome Ahmedabad and Guwahati into the PBL Season 3 fold. It is a true reflection of the popularity of the league and the sport in the country.”

Biswas declared that more and more people were keen on associating themselves with the sport. “There is tremendous enthusiasm for badminton across the country. The sport is growing and we believe it will only get bigger and better going forward. I would like to thank the new owners and wish them the very best. I would also like to congratulate SportzLive for their efforts. I believe that together we can take badminton to unprecedented heights.”

It needs noting that of the eight franchises, for two teams - Mumbai Rockets and Guwahati Eastern Warriors - the owners are still to be confirmed.

The 2017 edition of the league had seen the owners of the Mumbai Rockets - Medhave Sports - pull out just ahead of the season opener “due to environmental and financial challenges”. It was reported at the time that the owners pulled out due to the financial strain caused by demonetisation. 

Whatever be the reasons, the late pullout forced Sportzlive to take charge of running the franchise for the 2017 seasson. 

Queried on the matter, Pande told SportzPower that an announcement on the Mumbai and Guwahati franchise owners would be made within the next one month. 

As for the other six teams, Delhi Acers is owned by Infinite Tech Venture Private Limited, Awadhe Warriors (Lucknow) by Sahara Adventure Sports Limited, Hyderabad Hunters by Agile Security Force Pvt Ltd, Chennai Smashers is owned by Vijay Prabhakaran, son of DMDK founder Vijaykanth, while Bengaluru Blasters lists Sachin Tendulkar and N Prasad as owners. 

The third edition of the PBL will see the 11-point format make way for the 15-point format and there will be one tie a day. It is expected to lift the quality of play with the players getting enough rest while also increasing footfalls at the stadium and viewership on TV.

“This Season we have two additional teams and a longer window and we are confident that badminton fans in Chennai will be up for an exciting time. We will also be hosting the final in Chennai and are confident that the way the sport has seen response PBL Season 3 will only grow bigger and better," said Atul Pande, executive director of  SportzLive.

PBL 2 attracted over 60 players, including eight Olympic medalists led by Rio Olympic Gold medalist Carolina Marin and a pool of young and talented Indian players. This year it is expected to draw even more top players, giving Indians the opportunity to get better.

With Star Sports Networks as the Official Broadcaster, the League had over 33 million viewers watching the matches Live. It was followed globally on Hotstar. Gate revenue itself was well over Rs10 million, making it one of the success stories in the sport last year.

PBL Facts:

Teams: 8

Cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Guwahati

Venues: New Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai

Dates: December 22 - January 14 2018

Broadcast Partner: Star Sports - HD 1 & 3 and SS1 & 3 and Hotstar

Prize money: Rs60 million – winners; Rs30 million – Runners-up; Rs15 million - 3rd; 4th place finish Rs7.5 million each 

Format: Best of 3 sets with 15 points a set

No of matches in each tie: 5