By James Pendleton
The inaugural Grand Prix Badminton League (GPBL) kicks off on August 12th, with eight teams of over 60 players battling it out for a chance to win the showpiece event in Bengaluru. Eurosport India will host the ten-day event.
The eight teams will be divided into two groups, with each team playing the other once before the top four teams in each group compete against one another for a spot in the championship game.
The eight teams competing for the Championship trophy are Bengaluru Lions, KGF Wolves, Kodagu Tigers, Malnad Falcons, Mandya Bulls, Mangalore Sharks, and Mysore Panthers and Bandipur Tuskers - with each team overseen by one of the sport’s familiar names.
Former two-time Olympic medalist PV Sindhu, former World No.1 Kidambi Shrikanth, Commonwealth Games gold medalists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa, World Championship bronze medalist B Sai Praneeth, and Thomas Cup-winning duo Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will be mentoring these eight teams.
Some standout male players are also taking part in the league, including former India No.1 Daniel S Farid for Bandipur Tuskers, current top 75 doubles player Sai Pratheek at Mandya Bulls and Mithun Manjunath at Malnad Falcons, who currently resides just outside the top 30 on the World Tour ranking.
Every team must have at least two female players, with Janani Ananthakumar turning out for Bengaluru Lions and Mysore Panthers having top 100 World Ranking Tanya Hemanth to call upon.
Farid’s Bandipur Tuskers will get us underway on 12th August as they face off against Pratheek’s Mandya Bulls, while KGF Wolves will close off the group stage when they take on Ananthakumar’s Bengaluru Lions on 17th August.
But this isn’t like badminton as we’ve seen it before; partnered by the likes of Puma, Simply Sport and Zuno, the GPBL is bidding to become the most exciting way to watch the sport through its unique use of fan engagement, NFTs and - most importantly - match types.
With now confirmed rosters, teams will play through a host of different match experiences - ensuring no bout feels the same as the tournament hots up.
During the league stage, each team will play three ties, split between men and women singles, men and mixed doubles and a ‘Super Match’ - an enthralling triples encounter.
Super Matches will see the opening seven points of the match contested between singles before ‘tagging in’ a partner each to battle for seven points, before doing the same again for the final seven, to take the game up to three players per side.
Every match must have one tie, designated as a ‘Trump Match’ before the opening serve, whether it be doubles, singles or the Super Match.
A win in the Super Match would grant a team three points, whereas regular matches award one point, and Trump Matches score two points when won (or four if it’s also a Super Match), but losing a Trump Match will knock a point off of that team’s score.
During either singles or doubles matches, players can choose to play - when receiving or serving - a ‘Golden Point’, which grants the winner of that particular serve an additional point, whether they play it as Golden or their opponent does.
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