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Pro Kabaddi League

Pro Kabaddi League Logo

India's Pro Kabaddi League started in 2014. This premier sporting event was inspired by the success of kabaddi in the 2006 Asian Games. Pro Kabaddi League has a franchisee model, and each team owner has paid roughly INR 1.5 crore to join the league. Pro Kabaddi's Season 8 was postponed due to the pandemic and was advanced to December 2021. Currently, all the matches of this kabaddi event are telecast by Star Sports, the sporting arm of Fox News.

In the early days of this league, many wondered whether Pro Kabaddi would be successful at all. The reason behind this apprehension was that this league was emulating the Indian Premier League in its business model, and there were hardly any national kabaddi players of repute. However, the first season attracted more than 43 crore viewers. This number was second to the IPL viewership figures. Further, the first season's final match attracted a whopping 8.64 crore viewers. Clearly, Pro Kabaddi League was a top hit in its founding year. Buoyed by these figures, Star Sports acquired the majority ownership in Pro Kabaddi's organizing body, Mashal Sports.

In 2017, and 2018-19, Pro Kabaddi added four more teams to the league and divided all its teams into two “zones”. In the later season, however, this league went back to its round-robin format. Stick to this article as it takes you past the various milestones of the Pro Kabaddi League. '

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    Inaugural Season

    20th May 2014 saw the first auction of the kabaddi players for the Pro Kabaddi League. India's Rakesh Kumar was the most expensive player; he was purchased for INR 12.80 lakhs by the Pirates. The next most expensive kabaddi player was Sport Authority of India's, Dipak Nivas. He was acquired by Telugu Titans for INR 12.60 lacs. The Patna franchise bought the most expensive foreign player (Tae Deo Eom) for INR 7 lacs.

    Season 1 lasted from 26th July 2014 to 31st August 2014. Eight teams participated in this season, and there were 60 matches to be played. This season was broken up into double round robin matches, two semi-finals, a match for the third place and the final match. The first round had 56 matches, while the play-off stage comprised four games.

    The first game ever of the Pro Kabaddi League was played between U Mumbai and Jaipur Pink Panthers. These two teams clashed again in the finals, where Panthers beat Mumbai 35-24 and won the Pro Kabaddi title.

    Pro Kabaddi League format

    All the rules of this league are the same as those of indoor kabaddi. However, there are some additional rules in Pro Kabaddi to make it more interesting. For instance, two empty raids trigger a “do-or-die” attempt where the attacking party must score a point, or it will be declared out.

    There is a Super Tackle rule that comes into play when the defending team has three or fewer players. In this rule, the defending team receives two points instead of just one.

    All the seasons so far

    Season 2

    The second season of Pro Kabaddi League ran from 18th July until 23rd August 2015. This season had 60 matches, and they were divided in the same manner as in the first season. Mumbai won the Season 2 title after defeating Bengaluru Bulls 36-30 in the finals. Titans stood in third place in Pro Kabaddi League Season 2.

    Season 3

    Before the start of Pro Kabaddi League Season 3, Sanjay Gupta, COO of Star Sports said there should be two legs of this league. The first leg would run in January-February 2016, and the second leg in June-July2016. Gupta's argument was that Pro Kabaddi should run for 10 weeks and not 5, and should be spread out in a year.

    Patna Pirates won the Season 3 by beating Mumbai in the finals by 3 points. Puneri Paltan came in third place. Delhi played host to the final match.

    Season 4

    Pro Kabaddi's Season 4 was interesting for another reason. This was the year when Mashal Sports launched the Women's Kabaddi League. Three women's teams participated in this event- Ice Divas, Storm Queens and Fire Birds.

    In the men's section, Patna Pirates became the winners yet again by beating the Pink Panthers in the finals. Finally, Hyderabad played host to the Pro Kabaddi Season 4 finals. 

    Season 5

    This season would be remembered by Kabaddi sports lovers for many reasons. First, Mashal expanded the league by bringing in four new teams — Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Tamil Nadu.

    The Gujarat franchise was bought by Gautam Adani, while Haryana went over to JSW.GMR acquired the Uttar Pradesh franchise, while Sachin Tendulkar bought over the Tamil Nadu Thalaivas.

    Next, were some more big payouts. Nitin Tomar was the most expensive player in this season. UP Yoddhas picked him for INR 93 lakhs. Rohit Kumar of Bengaluru Bulls was the second-most expensive player; his price tag was INR 81 lakhs. Finally, Lee Jang-kun of Bengal was the priciest overseas player, after being retained for INR 80.3 lakhs.

    Patna Pirates scored a hat-trick by winning this season's title. In the finals, they beat Gujarat Fortune 55-38. Pardeep Narwal of Patna was the Man of the Match for his 19 raid points.

    Pro-Kabaddi League's Season 5 is the biggest tournament so far. It had 138 matches played during 13 weeks and across 11 states. Mashal also launched its first Junior Kabaddi League this season.

    Season 6

    Played in 2018, season 6 of Pro Kabaddi saw some of the most expensive player auctions. Monu Goyal became the most expensive player after he was acquired by Haryana Steelers for INR 1.5 crores. The most expensive foreign player was Fazel Atrachali of Iran; he was picked up by U Mumbai for an impressive INR 1 crore.

    Bengaluru won the finals after beating Gujarat Fortune Giants 38-33. Pavan Sehrawat scored 22 raid points against Gujarat and became the Man of the Tournament. This was the second time Gujarat had lost out in the finals.

    Season 7

    In this season, Pro Kabaddi reverted to the round-robin format. All the 12 teams had to play against all the other clubs twice. While the top 6 teams qualified for the play-offs, the two top clubs headed to the semis. In this manner, Dabang Delhi and Bengal Warriors entered the finals, where Bengal beat its opponent 39-34 and won the Pro Kabaddi title.

    This season saw several new records being made. Pardeep Narwal became the first player to score 1,000 points in all the Pro Kabaddi matches. On the other hand, Naveen Kumar scored 21 Super 10s in this tournament, and 22 overall. Neeraj Kumar scored the most points (11) against any team in the defender category and equaled the record of Mohit Chillar.

    Season 6 also saw some crazy Kabaddi betting for players. Siddharth Sirish Desai became the most expensive Indian player after being picked up by Telugu Titans for INR 1.45 crores. On the other hand, Iranian Mohammad Ismaeil went on to become the priciest foreign player. Bengal Warriors acquired him for INR 77.75 lakhs.

    As pointed earlier, Season 8 of the Pro Kabaddi League was postponed due to the pandemic.

    Current teams

    At the time of writing this article, the following teams make up the Pro Kabaddi League.

    • Bengal Warriors are based in Kolkata. They are based at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
    • Bengaluru Bulls are from Bengaluru. This team is based at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
    • Dabangg Delhi are stationed at the Thyagaraja Stadium, Delhi.
    • Jaipur Pink Panthers, twice runners-up, represent Rajasthan and are based in the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur.
    • Patna Pirates from Patna can be located at the Pataliputra Sports Complex, Patna. This team has won the Pro title thrice.
    • Puneri Paltan, Pune: Shri Chhatrapati Sports Complex.
    • Haryana Steelers — Sonipat, Haryana. It is based at Motilal Nehru Sports Complex.
    • Tamil Thalaiva s- Chennai. Located at Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex.
    • UP Yoddha — Greater Noida. This team is based at Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex.
    • Telugu Titans — Gachibowli Stadium, Hyderabad.
    • U Mumba i- Mumbai, National Sports Club of India.

    Player stats

    The top five players of the Pro Kabaddi League are Indians.

    • Pardeep Narwal — 107 matches, 1169 total points
    • Rahul Chaudhary — 114 matches and 1014 points
    • Dipak Hooda — 123 matches and 943 points
    • Ajay Thakur — 115 matches, 811 points
    • Maninder Singh — 740 points from 79 matches

    The raiders with the most points are:

    • Pardeep Narwal — 1160
    • Rahul Chaudhari — 955
    • Dipak Hooda — 856
    • Ajay Thakur — 790
    • Maninder Singh — 731

      Summary

      There is no doubt that Pro Kabaddi League has become a major sporting event in India. There are several reasons behind the rising popularity of this tournament. Hard-nosed businessmen, such as Gautam Adani have sponsored various teams of Pro Kabaddi. These businessmen have stuck on to this tournament for many years now. Secondly, millions of viewers follow this annual tournament, and this is proof enough that the Pro Kabaddi League has a bright future ahead. Readers would be delighted to know that mobile phone maker Vivo is the proud sponsor of this event.


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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.