After a big fanfare in 2013, the Indian Badminton League program ran into legal hurdles in 2014 and 2015. It is now coming back for the 2016 season, rechristened as the Premier Badminton League. Based almost on the Sudirman Cup format, the 2016 PBL Season is slated to kick-off from January 02, 2016 at Mumbai with the finals at Delhi on January 17. There will be six franchises from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Lucknow although many names have been changed. While the Mumbai team is now Mumbai Rockets, the other three are; Delhi Acers, Bengaluru TopGuns, Hyderabad Hunters. Of the remaining two, Lucknow has retained its old name as Awadhe Warriors while 2013 Pune Pistons have been replaced by Chennai Smashers for the 2016 edition.
The player auction took place on December 07, 2015 in Delhi’s Hotel Grand and India’s Saina Nehwal and Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei walked off with the highest price tag of US $ 100,000 each. While Saina was taken by Awadhe Warriors, Lee was grabbed by Hyderabad Hunters. Of the other players, PV Sindhu was bought by Chennai Smashers for $ 95,000; K Srikanth went to Bengaluru TopGuns for $ 80,000; Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto was taken by Delhi Acres for $ 74,000; Mumbai Rockets paid $ 47,000 for India’s HS Prannoy; Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboosuk fetched $ 41,000 from Awadhe Warriors; Mumbai bought Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov for $ 42,000; England’s Rajiv Ouseph was taken for $ 36,000 by Delhi Acers; Jwala Gutta went to Hyderabad Hunters for $ 30,000 and Jwala’s usual doubles partner Ashwini Ponnappa was taken by Bengaluru TopGuns also for $ 30,000. Other Indian shuttlers couldn’t command too high a price as Parupalli Kashyap went to Hyderabad for $35,000 same as Ajay Jayaram, who went to Delhi Acers. Indian men’s doubles players B Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Attri went for their base price of $25,000 to Bengaluru and Mumbai respectively.
With the auctions completed and PBL schedule drawn up, the six teams have emerged with their final constitutions. Mumbai Rockets have; HS Prannoy, RMV Gurusaidutt, Ruthvika Gadde, Han Li, Liu Zi Die, Manu Attri, Chayut Triyachart, Vladimir Ivanov, Mathias Boe and Kamilla Juhl. Delhi Acres constitutes of Ajay Jayaram, Rajiv Ouseph, Tommy Sugiarto, PC Thulasi, Shikha Gautam, Akshay Dewalkar, Koo Keat Kien, Tan Boon Heong, Aparna Balan and Gaby Adcock. Awadhe Warriors will have Saina Nehwal, Christinna Pedersen, G Vrushali, K Maneesha, Sai Praneeth, Sourabh Verma, Tanongsak Saensomboosuk, Cai Yun, Hendra Gunawan and Bodi Issara. Bengaluru TopGuns are constituted of K Srikanth, Sameer Verma, Anand Pawar, Suo Di, B Sumeeth Reddy, Khim Wah Lim, Hoon Thien How, Joachim Fischer Nielsen, Robert Blair and Ashwini Ponnappa. In Hyderabad Hunters, there will be; Lee Chong Wei, Siril Verma, Parupalli Kashyap, Supanida, Katethong, K Nandagopal, Satwik Sai Raj, Markis Kido, Carsten Mogensen, Jwala Gutta and Meghana Jakkampudi. Chennai Smashers team is constituted of PV Sindhu, Srik Krishna Priya, Pranaav Jerry Chopra, Chris Adcock, Toby NG, Brice Leverdez, Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Simon Santoso, Sikki Reddy and Pia Zebaidah.
In the league stage, each team will play 5 ties with 5 other teams with each tie comprising of 5 matches in men and women’s singles, men and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. The best four teams will proceed to the semifinals to be played at Hyderabad and Bengaluru and then the final at Delhi. All matches will be best of three games and they end at 15 points with a sudden death at 14-all. The list of players will be decided beforehand and no one is generally allowed to play back-to-back matches. But in unavoidable circumstances, a 5-minute gap shall be created should a player needs to play again. A Trump Match has been introduced in the tournament format and one match out of 5 will be the trump match as per the choice of the team captain. A win in a normal match will count 1 point and a loss 0 point. In Trump Matches, win will add 2 points but the loss will take away one point from the team. Trump matches are allowed in both league and knockout stages and a team cannot put the same player in more than two times in league stage and more than once in knock out stage.
The tournament gets underway at Mumbai with Saina Nehwal’s team Awadhe Warriors taking on Mumbai Rockets in the opening match of PBL on January 02, 2016. Mumbai will host two more matches on January 03, when Hyderabad Hunters take on Bengaluru TopGuns and Mumbai Rockets play against Chennai Smashers. After Mumbai, the league-phase will move to Lucknow, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The two semifinals will be played at Hyderabad and Bengaluru and the final will be played at Delhi. No PBL matches will be held in Chennai due to the recent flood, which delayed the preparation for the event. Chennai Smashers’ home matches have been shifted to Lucknow and Hyderabad.