Grand Prix Badminton League Launched With PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy as Mentors

Top Indian shuttles such as two-time Olympic medalist PV Sindhu, former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth, World Championship bronze medalist B. Sai Praneeth, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponappa, Chirag Shetty, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and HS Prannoy will act as mentors to the eight franchises who will be battling for honor at the inaugural edition of the Grand Prix Badminton League (GPBL) taking place from July 1st to 10th.

The Grand Prix Badminton League, Karnataka’s own premier league played under the aegis of the Karnataka Badminton Association, was officially launched at an event on Saturday.

Sindhu, the co-owner of city team Bengaluru Lions, said she is thrilled to be part of GPBL. “We all know what these kinds of leagues have done to games other than cricket. I think this is a platform for discovering talent while bringing the game to the masses. I’m very excited to be a part of GPBL,” said Sindhu after the trophy’s unveiling.

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

Each team consists of 10 players, of which at least five must be state players and at least three must be women, organizers said in a press release on Saturday.

The total prize pool is Rs 60,000 with the winning team walking away with a check for Rs 24,000 while the runners-up pocket Rs 12,000. The semi-finalists will be richer by Rs. 6,000 each while the 5th placed team will receive Rs. 4,000. The bottom three teams will receive Rs 3 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh respectively. In addition to the team ranking, various individual performances are awarded in each game and throughout the season.

“Having co-owned a team in the Premier Badminton League and seeing the game’s potential, we thought about creating a unique league. Also, it has been two years since the last edition of PBL so 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 goal is to give players a platform to play league games at this level and get some very important match practice. At the same time, players also have the opportunity to earn good salaries for their efforts, which could help players to support their careers,” said Arvind Bhat, the head of the league.

“Not only the Karnataka Badminton Association, but the entire state of Karnataka itself is proud to host a tournament of this magnitude. We are delighted to be working with Prashanth and Arvind and wish them every success,” said Manoj Kumar, President of KBA, in a press release on Saturday.

The teams are mentored by their respective superstars. Malnad Falcons is managed by Chirag Shetty, while Bandipur Tuskers has the expertise of Jwala Gutta, who also co-owns the team. The Mysore Panthers are managed by Satwiksairaj Rankireddy while the Kodava Tigers are managed by Ashwini Ponnappa. The Mandya Bulls are assisted by Sai Praneeth and the KGF Wolves are managed 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 is played in a round-robin format until the top four teams qualify for the double-elimination (semifinals) stage. Each encounter consists of five games – men’s singles, women’s singles, mixed doubles, men’s doubles and a ‘super match’ format where players can substitute teammates into the game at seven point intervals.

In this format, the game starts with two singles players for the first seven points, turns into a doubles game for the next seven points, and becomes a treble for the last seven points. The first team to score 21 points wins the tie.

As an additional innovation, the organizers introduced a “golden point” which would be worth two points if the server wins the point after announcing it to the opponent before serving. If the player loses the point, the opponent gets two points. The golden point must be used by both players in every game.

No less than 400 players from across the country have registered for the league, for which the auction will take place next week.

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