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Premier Badminton League

Premier Badminton League Logo

Badminton is a popular sport in India. One of the biggest events for this sport is the Premier Badminton League with players from around the world playing for the participating franchises. So, let's take a look at what the PBL entails.

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    Hoary origins of badminton

    You will be pleasantly surprised to know that badminton originated in India! According to sports historians, this game developed in Pune, and was initially called "Poona". It was the British soldiers who birthed this sport in India more than a century ago. Since then, Poona or Badminton has spread to all the corners of the world.

    India became a major Badminton power in the early 80s, when Prakash Padukone won the prestigious All England Championship. Since then, India has produced many world champions, such as Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu.

    Riding on badminton's unprecedented popularity in India, the Badminton Association of India introduced the Premier Badminton League in early 2010s.

    Inaugural season of PBL

    The first PBL season was delayed by three years, primarily due to the busy schedule of the players, as well as delays in getting sponsorship.

    In this season, the Indian Badminton League got renamed to the Premier Badminton League. This season started on 2nd January and concluded 15 days later on 17th January 2016. Four teams advanced to the semifinals. These were Delhi Dashers, Awadhe Warriors, Mumbai Rockets, and Chennai Smashers. Mumbai beat Awadhe and Delhi trounced Chennai to advance to the finals, where the Dashers beat Mumbai 4-3.

    Noted film actor Akshay Kumar was the brand ambassador of Premier Badminton League’s Season 1. Star Sports sponsored this league.

    Premier Badminton League structure

    A league-based badminton tournament, the Premier Badminton League is an important property of the Badminton Association of India. The inaugural season of PBL was held in January 2016. Though new in thought and execution, the Premier Badminton League has attracted players of the likes of P.V. Sindhu and Carolina Merin. So far, all the matches of PBL have taken place in Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, and Guwahati. To date, Bengaluru Raptors are the only team that has won the PB title twice.

    Operated by Sportzlive, this tournament has a glorious future ahead. Read on to find out more about PBL in this article.

    Every team in the PBL plays its matches in a round-robin format. Each team has to play six ties in the league stage; a tie consists of five matches. These matches comprise:

    • Men's Singles
    • Women's Singles
    • Men's Doubles
    • Women's Doubles
    • Mixed Doubles

    The best three matches are chosen from each category. Every team gets one point from a win. In addition, each team must choose a Trump match where a win brings two points. A loss means reducing one point from that team's overall score.

    Once the league stage is over, the top four teams advance to the knockout stage. The winners in the semis go to the finals where the winner gets the PBL title.

    Player auctions 

    Players are auctioned at the end of every year in preparation for the forthcoming season. This auction has helped many PBL players double their earnings. In 2020, each franchise had a purse of INR 2 crores, and the maximum it could spend per player was INR 70 lacs.

    Current franchises

    At present, the following franchisees form the Premier Badminton League.

    • Hyderabad Hunters
    • Bengaluru Raptors
    • Awadhe Warriors
    • Chennai Smashers
    • Mumbai Rockets
    • Pune7 Aces
    • Northeastern Warriors

    Now let’s look at the respective owners of these franchises.

    • Tapsee Pannu owns the Pune 7 Aces franchise.
    • Sahara India Pariwar is the owner of Awadhe Warriors
    • Bengaluru Raptors are owned by Matrix Badminton Pvt. Ltd.
    • Hyderabad Hunters are owned byAgile Security Force
    • Devyani Leisures owns Mumbai Rockets
    • R.Sivakumar and Aditya Meesala own the Chennai franchisee
    • The Eastern Warriors Pvt. Ltd own Northeastern Warriors

    PBL and its seasons

    Now that we have understood PBL and its format, let’s track its various milestones.

    Technically speaking, the PBL started in 2013. The name of this tournament was the Indian Badminton League, and Sportzlive secured the rights to operate the league and the individual players. This tournament started on 14th August and was completed on the 31st August, the same year. Hyderabad Hotshots won the title by beating Awadhe Warriors in the final. All the matches of this league were played in six cities, which were Lucknow, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Delhi. 

    Season 1

    This exciting first season was the one to kickstart it all. We have covered this exciting event earlier in the article as this was the inaugural season. 

    Season 2

    The format of this season was similar to the earlier one. Season 2 of Premier Badminton League started on 1st January 2017 and finished on 14th January the same year. Four teams qualified for the semis; these were Awadhe Warriors, Mumbai Rockets, Chennai Smashers and Hyderabad Hunters. Awadhe Warriors yet again failed to reach the finals. Chennai Smashers beat Awadhe 4-1 in the semis. In the other semi-final match, Hyderabad lost to Mumbai. Chennai went home with the title after beating Mumbai 4-3.

    Season 3

    Premier Badminton League’s third season had a longer duration. It started on 23rd December 2017 and concluded on 14th January 2018. Thus, this season spanned 22 days. Hyderabad Hunters won the PBL title after it beat Bengaluru Raptors 4-13 in the finals.

    Season 4 & 5

    The fourth season of the Premier Badminton League was won by Bengaluru Raptors. This was Raptor's first title in this elite badminton league. Season 4 started on 22 December 2018 and finished on 13 January 2019.

    In the fifth season, Delhi and Ahmedabad Smash Masters did not participate in the PBL. The final match was contested between Bengaluru Raptors and Northeastern Warriors. The Raptors won the PBL title after beating Warriors 4-2. This was Bengaluru’s second PBL title. The total prize money for Season 5 was a whopping INR 5 crores.

    Over the years, the number of teams participating in the PBL has varied from one season to another. There were six teams in the first two seasons, eight in the third one, and nine and seven in Seasons 4 and 5, respectively.

    The first two finals were played in the Delhi Badminton and Squash Stadium, New Delhi. Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru played host to seasons 3 and 4, respectively. The final match of Season 5 was played at the Gachibowli Stadium, Hyderabad.

      Team performances

      If you look at the team-wise performances, Bengaluru Raptors has attained the first spot twice. This team has sported several names in the past, such as Bengaluru Blasters, and Bengaluru Top Guns. The other teams that have clinched the top spot are Chennai Smashers (Chennai Superstarz), Hyderabad Blasters, and Delhi Dashers or Delhi Acers. There are only three teams that came as runners-up. These are Mumbai Rockets (thrice), Bengaluru Raptors and Northeastern Warriors, once each.

      The teams that have reached the semis are:

      • Awadhe Warriors — thrice
      • Hyderabad Hunters — twice
      • Chennai Superstarz — twice
      • Pune7 Aces — once
      • Delhi Dashers — once
      • Ahmedabad Smash Masters — once.

          Top players

          Some of the best international players have played in the Premier Badminton League. For instance, Shin Baek-cheol has won several World, and Asian titles in badminton. 

          Tai Tzu-ying is an accomplished badminton player and became the World No. 1 at the age of 22. 

          Vladimir Ivanov Sindhu needs no introduction. She has won an Olympic Silver and Bronze in Women’s Singles and also won multiple world championships. Liew Daren from Malaysia reached his career-high of becoming World No. 10 a few years ago. Vladimir Ivanov made history by becoming the first Russian to win the Men’s Doubles title in the AllEngland Championship. His partner was Ivan Sozonov. 

          Hendra Setiawan from Indonesia has won medals in all the major international badminton events. He has been an Olympics champion, plus he has also won the World and Asian titles. Setiawan is also a two-time All England champion. 

          All these players, and more, have played in the PBL.

          Interesting facts about PBL

          The Premier Badminton League is one of the richest badminton tournaments in the world. The prize money of PBL is INR 7.5 crores (USD 1 million), and this makes the PBL a happy hunting ground for the top badminton players. A few years ago, Caroline Merin became the most valuable PBL player after she was acquired for INR 61.5 lakhs by her franchise.

          The second season got delayed because of a bitter feud between the Badminton Association of India and the event’s organizer Sportzlive. It took three years for this dispute to be resolved.

          Also, this was the first time that a badminton tournament had 11 points, and not the usual 21. We have already read about the unique Trump rule of the PBLA.

          Summary

          There is no doubt that the Premier Badminton League has become a prestigious event. Many world champions have come and contested in this league-based event. Some of them are P.V. Sindhu, Caroline Merin and Hendra Setiawan. The success of this league can be ascribed to two reasons. The first reason is that badminton is a hugely popular sport in India and the rest of the world. Many Indian players, such as Kidambi Srikanth and Sindhu have made India a super-power in this sport. This has encouraged many foreign players to come and show their skills in this tournament. Prize money also has played a huge role in the PBL’s success. As seen earlier, the Premier Badminton League is one of the richest tournaments in the world and subsequently, has a bright future ahead.


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          Gian Chacko

          Sports enthusiast with love for cricket, football and sports in general. Holds 10+ years of following and writing about sports and lately also betting.