How Pro Kabaddi League Became a Successful Sports Event?
In 2014, when a kabaddi league was introduced in India, it sent every kabaddi fan out there in a frenzy. While the critics were skeptical about the acceptance of the league among the masses, many were doubtful over the league’s survival against the likes of IPL and ISL. However, the Pro Kabaddi League proved a huge success and emerged as the most followed league in India after the Indian Premier League.
The fast-paced game of kabaddi and shorter time format proved to be the most significant reasons behind the astounding success of the league. The game of kabaddi provided the fans and viewer the thrill and adrenaline rush which boosted the popularity of the league exponentially.
Kabaddi is primarily considered as a rural game and is played in rural parts of Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Punjab, and Bihar. With Pro Kabaddi League – Season 7 starting from July 19th, 2019, Kabaddi lovers around the globe are excited for the 80 days of Euphoria.
Let’s us take you on the ride through the history of Vivo Pro Kabaddi League since it raided the Kabaddi fans in 2014.
Pro Kabaddi League Introduction
In 2014, Mashal Sports Pvt. Ltd and Star India Pvt. Ltd. together took a groundbreaking initiative and introduced the Pro Kabaddi League to the world. Since then, Pro Kabaddi League has revolutionized the sport in an unprecedented manner with stunning innovations. The league has gained massive popularity and ever-increasing fan following over the past seasons.
Since its inception, Pro Kabaddi League has grown leaps and bound gaining the popularity on the global level. Moreover, the game has not only made its way to the heart of numerous sports lovers in the nation, but many kabaddi players have now become the household names.
Pro Kabaddi League has the backing from the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), and support from the participating members of the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) and the Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF).
The League began with the participation of 8 city-based franchises, but later 4 new franchises were introduced in the fifth season of the league. The addition of the new franchises made VIVO Pro Kabaddi India’s most prominent sports league in terms of numbers of team participating and geographical representation. The addition of the new teams to the league made the competition more intense than ever before and the Pro Kabaddi League all the more exciting.
This season once again your favorite kabaddi superstars will face each other promising some intense battle and high-octane Panga on the mat.
Pro Kabaddi League Teams
The Kolkata-based franchise has yet to show the spark and lift the title of Pro Kabaddi League. In 2017, Bengal Warriors played to their potential where they finished at the 3rd position in the points table before slipping to 5th in PKL season 6. Bengal Warriors are yet to make it to the final of the Pro Kabaddi Leauge.
Winners of Pro Kabaddi League Season 6, Bengaluru Bulls have blown hot and cold in the league. Before lifting the PKL trophy for the first time in their history, Bengaluru Bulls came closest to winning the title in season 2 where they finished as the runners up before crashing to the 7th position in the very next season of the league.
The Dabangg from Delhi has been perennial under-achievers in the Pro Kabaddi League. Every season fans hope to see their team to surprise everyone with better performances but to disappointment. Since the beginning of the league, it hasn’t been a great journey for the Dabangs as they have finished at 6th position or below in the five seasons out of 6. However, Delhi gave their best performance in season 6 where they qualified for the playoffs for the first time.
Two-time runner-up and the winners of Season 2, U Mumba is one of the most consistent performers of the league. They made it to the finals for the three times consecutively in the first 3 seasons of the league. However, they have not been able to maintain their form in the past few seasons, but they still are one of the strongest units in the league.
True to their name Pink Panthers from Jaipur hunted down every opponent in the first season of the league. Jaipur Pink Panthers were deservingly crowned as the champions in the inaugural season of the league. However, since then their form took a turn for the worse where they finished 5th and 6th in the next two seasons. They once again reached the finals of the league in season 4 before another 2 disappointing seasons.
Truly the most successful league in the Pro Kabaddi League, Patna Pirates have been the biggest pirates in the league. They have dominated the league with a hat-trick of the championships where they won the league in the season 3 and successfully defended the title in season 4 and season 5.
Telugu Titans started slow finishing at the 5th position in the very first season of the league. However, they eventually picked up the pace and managed to reach the playoffs in season 3. Since then, they have lost the steam and never made it to the playoffs again. Titans are a team which looks good every season but somehow manages to falter just before crossing the final line.
It was not a start Puneri Paltan looking for when they finished at the bottom of the table in the first two seasons of the league. However, the Paltan made an impressive comeback with qualifying for the playoffs 3 times consecutively. Puneri Paltan then again reached to the oblivion in the season 5 where they finished at the 4th position in their zone.
Thalaivas haven’t been able to justify their name at all in the two seasons they have played in the league. The newcomers have finished at the bottom of the table in their zone in both the season they have played so far.
Riding with confidence, Gujarat Fortune Giants have already emerged as a giant in the league. In their first two seasons, giants from Gujarat have made it to the final on both the occasions and have been unlucky to not to win the title.
Haryana Steelers had a good start in the Pro Kabaddi league. In their very first season, they showed the steel by making it to the playoffs. However, they could not repeat the feat and crashed to the 6th position at the table in their zone.
UP Yoddhas made a stellar debut in the Pro Kabaddi League by qualifying for the playoffs in their very first season. The Yoddhas from UP showed the world that their performance in the season 5 was no fluke as they qualified for the playoffs once again in the season 5.
The Story So Far | Pro Kabaddi League Past Seasons
In the year 2014, The Pro Kabaddi journey began with much enthusiasm and anticipation. The first season of the league featured eight teams battling it out for the prestigious Pro Kabaddi title over a five-week period. Kabaddi fans from all over the world witnessed some mouth-watering ‘pangas,’ and the league exceeded the expectations. It had the second-highest viewership among the sports leagues in India after the IPL. In the end, Jaipur Pink Panthers crowned the champions after they beat U Mumba in the final of the league.
Top Raider: Rahul Chaudhari from Telugu Titans
Top Defender: Manjeet Chiller from Bengaluru Bulls
MVP: Anup Kumar from U Mumba
The second season of the Pro Kabaddi League kicked off in July 2015. The squads were bigger this time with the strength going from 14 to 25. It gave the world a glimpse of the new and exciting kabaddi talent in India and across the globe. This season, U Mumba went one step ahead from the last season as they emerged as the deserving champions beating Bengaluru Bulls in an electrifying contest in the final.
Top Raider: Kashiling Adake from Dabang Delhi K.C.
Top Defender: Ravinder Pahal from Dabang Delhi K.C.
MVP: Manjeet Chillar from Bengaluru Bulls
With its ever-increasing popularity, Season 3 of the Pro Kabaddi League came after just five months from the conclusion of the second season. This time teams found their stride and got the hang of the competition. With the perfect balance of attack and defense, teams battled in more closely contested games. In the final, Patna Pirates ousted defending champions U Mumba and lifted the coveted PKL title for the first time.
Top Raider: Rishank Devadiga from U Mumba
Top Defender: Sandeep Narwal from Patna Pirates
MVP: Rohit Kumar from Patna Pirates
In June 2016, Season 4 returned once again following closely on the heels of the season 3 of the league. For the first time in Pro Kabaddi League, two consecutive seasons were played in the same calendar year. This season also saw the increased international participation with 24 players from 12 countries joining the battle. Patna Pirates defended their title successfully by trumping the champions of the inaugural season Jaipur Pink Panthers in the final.
Top Raider: Rahul Chaudhari from Telegu Titans
Top Defender: Fazel Atrachali from Patna Pirates
MVP: Pradeep Narwal from Patna Pirates
With the introduction of 4 new teams, the fifth edition of VIVO Pro Kabaddi was the longest in the history of the league. In the season 5, 138 matches were played in a period of 13 weeks. A number of records were broken in the season, including most points in a single game, the most Raid Points in a season, most consecutive High 5s in a season, most Tackle Points in a season among others. Patna Pirates created the history by sailing over the line once again and became the first team to score a hat-trick Pro Kabaddi League titles.
Top Raider: Pradeep Narwal from Patna Pirates
Top Defender: Surender Nada from Haryana Steelers
MVP: Pradeep Narwal from Patna Pirates
Season 6 of Pro Kabaddi League once again saw many records tumbling. For the first time in the history of the league 5 raiders went past the 200-raid point mark. While 3 defenders too scored over 80 tackle points in the league and Nitesh Kumar becoming the first player to score 100 tackle points in a single season. In the end, Bulls from Bangalore captured their maiden Pro Kabaddi League title ending their title drought.
Top Raider: Pradeep Narwal from Patna Pirates
Top Defender: Nitesh Kumar from U.P. Yoddha
MVP: Pawan Kumar Sehrawat from Bengaluru Bulls
Best Players of Pro Kabaddi League
The ‘poster boy’ of Indian Kabaddi Rahul Chaudhari is the player with the most number of points scored in the history of Pro Kabaddi League. With 876 points against his name Rahul Chaudhari is leading point scorer in the league followed by his counterpart Pradeep Narwal with 865 points and all-rounder Deepak Niwas Hooda with 785 points.
In the Raiding department, Pradeep Narwal trumps Rahul Chaudhari with 858 points against his name whereas Rahul has scored 825 raiding points over the course of his PKL career. Indian veteran Ajay Thakur occupies the third spot in the list with a haul of 732 raiding points in the league.
Indian Kabaddi Legend Manjeet Chillar has been the best defender in league with 302 tackle points across six seasons of the league. He is closely followed by ‘the hawk’ Ravinder Pahal with 263 tackle points, and Sandeep Narwal is at third position with 254 tackle points against his name.
Pro Kabaddi League Rules
The Pro Kabaddi League follows similar rules to that of the indoor team version of Kabaddi. However, the league also has introduced additional rules to encourage more scoring and making the game attractive. The first rule is playing two “empty” raids in a row will trigger a “do-or-die raid”; in this raid, the raider must score a point, or he will be declared out. The second rule is when a defensive side has three or fewer players remaining, and tackles are termed as a “Super Tackle.” The super tackle is awarded two points instead of one.
Pro Kabaddi League Format
Pro Kabaddi League is played in the groups and playoffs format where 12 teams are divided into 2 zones with 6 teams in each zone. At the group stage, every team will play 22 matches each including 15 Intra-Zone matches, 6 Inter-Zone matches, and 1 wild card match.
In Intra-Zone, each team will play every other team of their zone 3 times making it a total of 15 matches. In Inter-Zone, Each team will play every team of the other zone one time making a total of 6 matches. Wild card match will be played Inter-Zone with one team of the other zone to be selected with a random draw. Based on the standings in the points table, top 3 teams from both zones will qualify for the playoffs.
At the playoffs stage, Top teams from both the zones will meet in the qualifier 1 where the winner directly will reach to the finals, and the loser of the match will get another chance in qualifier 2.
After that, in a series of eliminators, no. 2 teams from zone A will meet no. 3 from zone B and no. 3 team in zone A will meet no. 2 team in zone B. The winners of both the eliminators will go face to face where the winner will advance to the qualifier 2. Then the winner of qualifier 2 will lock horns with the winner of qualifier 1 for the one last time in the final and biggest ‘Panga’ of the season.
Pro Kabaddi League Sponsorship
Chinese handset maker Vivo Electronics Corp. is the title sponsors for the Pro Kabaddi League for a period of five years, starting 2017. The mega-deal was valued at Rs 300 crore in which VIVO acquired the title sponsorship rights of the league. Earlier the league was known as ‘Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League’ which now is called as ‘Vivo Pro Kabaddi League.’
Pro Kabaddi League Prize Money
The winning team of the Pro Kabaddi League 2018, took home Rs 3 crore as prize money. The runners-up of the league were also awarded a massive sum of Rs 1.80 crore. The most valuable player of the league got the prize money of Rs 15 lakh, and best defender and raider took away Rs 10 lakh each.
Pro Kabaddi League Upcoming Season
The Pro Kabaddi League Auction 2019 recently was held in Mumbai on 9th April. The fierce 2-day event saw the team owners and coaches engaged in bidding wars to assemble the best possible team for the Vivo Pro Kabaddi League season 7. Each team entered the auction with a large purse amounting ₹4.4 Crore which they shelled out to acquire the services of the kabaddi superstars of their choice.
12 teams bought over 120 players and they also had the option of retaining few players from their existing squad ahead of the auction. Puneri Paltan went all-out with a clean slate in the auction after not choosing to retain any player. The teams spent over 50 Crore in the auction and this time the players from the New Young Players Initiative were in focus, as well as the Overseas Players, were also sought after by the franchises.
Siddharth Desai, last season’s best debutant, emerged as the highlight of the auction as he was the most significant buy of the auction. Telugu Titans bagged him for a whopping amount of Rs. 1.45 Crore.
All the teams came into the auction with a definite plan to assemble the right squad. With auctions done and dusted now, Pro Kabaddi League is all set to emerge as one of the most significant sporting events in the country. All the teams are looking well equipped and this season may very well turn out to be the closest one yet.