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Grand Prix Badminton League launched with Sindhu, Srikanth, Prannoy as mentors

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Bengaluru, June 4 (Ajit Weekly News) Top Indian shuttlers like two-time Olympic medallist P.V. Sindhu, former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth, World championship bronze medallist B. Sai Praneeth, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponappa, Chirag Shetty, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and H.S. Prannoy will act as mentors of the eight franchises that will clash for honours in the inaugural edition of Grand Prix Badminton League (GPBL) which will be held from July 1-10.

The Grand Prix Badminton League, Karnataka’s own Premier League, played under the aegis of the Karnataka Badminton Association, was officially launched at a function held here on Saturday.

Sindhu, who is the co-owner of the City team Bengaluru Lions, said she was excited to be a part of GPBL. “We all know what these kinds of leagues have done to games other than cricket. I think this is a platform to unearth talent while taking the game to the masses. I am super thrilled to be a part of GPBL,” said Sindhu after unveiling the Trophy.

Besides Bengaluru Lions, the seven other teams in the fray are Mangalore Sharks, Mandya Bulls, Mysore Panthers, Malnad Falcons, Bandipur Tuskers, KGF Wolves, and Kodagu Tigers.

Each team comprises 10 players each, of which, a minimum of five players will have to be from the State and a minimum of three women players, the organisers informed in a release on Saturday.

The total prize purse will be Rs 60 lakh with the winning team walking away with a cheque of Rs 24 lakh while the runners-up will pocket Rs 12 lakh. The semifinalists will be richer by Rs 6 lakh apiece while the 5th placed team will receive Rs 4 lakh. The last three placed teams will earn Rs 3 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh respectively. Apart from the team honours, various individual performances in every game and the overall season will be awarded.

“After co-owning a team in the Premier Badminton League and having seen the potential the game has to offer, we thought about introducing a unique league. Also, it has been two years since the last edition of PBL and hence we wanted to keep the momentum going,” said Prashanth Reddy, the League Commissioner and CEO of Bitsport along with his childhood friend and former National champion Arvind Bhat.

“Our main aim is to give a platform to players to play league matches at this level and earn some very important match practice. Along with that, the players will also have the chance to earn good salaries for their effort which could help the players support their career,” said Arvind Bhat who is the League Director.

“It is a matter of pride not only for the Karnataka Badminton Association but for the entire State of Karnataka itself for hosting a tournament of this stature. We are happy to work with Prashanth and Arvind and wish them all the success,” said Manoj Kumar, President of KBA, in a release on Saturday.

The teams will be mentored by their respective superstars. Malnad Falcons will be mentored by Chirag Shetty while Bandipur Tuskers will have the expertise of Jwala Gutta, who is also the co-owner of the team. Mysore Panthers will be guided by Satwiksairaj Rankireddy while the Kodava Tigers will be guided by Ashwini Ponnappa. The Mandya Bulls will have the support of Sai Praneeth and KGF Wolves will be mentored by HS Prannoy. The Mangalore Sharks will have Srikanth Kidambi as their ambassador while the Bengaluru Lions will be tutored by Sindhu.

Unique format

The League will be played in a round-robin format until the top four teams qualify for the double-elimination stage (semifinals). Each encounter will consist of five matches — men’s singles, women’s singles, mixed doubles, men’s doubles and a ‘Super Match’ format where players can tag in teammates into the match at intervals of seven points.

In this format, the match begins with two singles players for the first seven points, transforms into a doubles match for the next seven points and becomes triples for the last seven points. The first team to score 21 points wins the tie.

As an additional innovation, the organisers have introduced a ‘golden point’ which would be worth two points if the server wins the point after announcing it to the opponent before serving. In case the player loses the point, the opponent will get two points. The golden point has to be mandatorily used in every game by both the players.

As many as 400 players from across the country have registered for the League for which the auction will be held next week.

–Ajit Weekly News

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