This year's PKL will be better, grander!
Kabaddi mania will once again begin, in the country, with the return of fifth season of the Pro Kabaddi League. The tournament will kick-start on 28th July in Hyderabad. With addition of four new teams, the league now comprises of 12 teams, and will have 132 league matches this season. Let us have a look at what to expect during 3-month long Kabaddi extravaganza.
Two zones of six teams each
With the addition of four new teams, the format of the league has changed this time. The 12 teams have been divided in two zones- Zone A and Zone B. Each team will play 15 intra-zonal and seven inter-zonal matches, with the top three teams from each zone qualifying for the play-offs. The final match of the tournament will be held on 28th October.
Which are the four new teams?
Apart from the eight established teams of the tournament, Gujarat Fortunegiants, UP Yoddha, Tamil Thaliavas and Haryana Steelers are the four new teams playing this year.
With big league comes big money
Chinese mobile maker Vivo Electronics Corp has acquired the title rights of the Pro Kabaddi League for five years, starting from 2017. This is VIVO's second sponsorship in Indian market, after signing a multi-million deal with Indian Premier League. The deal between VIVO and Mashal Sports, the company behind PKL, is valued at around Rs. 300 crore.
The prize money
The prize money of the tournament, this season, is Rs 3 crore for the winner, and an award of Rs 2 crore and Rs 1 crore for the first and the second runners-up respectively.
250 players from over the world to participate
The popularity of Kabaddi has increased around the world, with players from different countries looking to participate in the PKL. With 10 international players being mandatory for a team, the league will feature at least 120 international players. This will increase the competition and will also attract more viewers, not only from India but also from other countries.
What does it mean for Kabaddi?
The growing popularity of PKL has led to corporates and celebrities showing interest in the league, giving a lift to league's profile. This has increased the paychecks of the players participating in the league. Team owners like Abhishek Bachchan (Jaipur), Kishore Biyani (Kolkata), Ronnie Screwvala (Mumbai) and Sachin Tendulkar (Chennai) also help in popularising the sport and increasing its viewership.