The Premier Badminton League (PBL) has grown bigger and better with each season and with a star-studded line-up that has nine Olympic medalists, hefty prize money and two new teams, Season 3 is expected to be even bigger. The participation of World No. 1s Viktor Axelsen and Tai Tzu Ying is the prize-catch this edition, which has an increased prize money of Rs. 6 crore.
The addition of the teams Ahmedabad Smash Masters and North Eastern Warriors is another highlight in Season 3, which will travel to new cities like Chennai and Guwahati, which are regions flooded with sporting talent.
But over the years, what has clicked for the league, which has been claimed to be one of the richest in the world, is its unique rules and format that has helped grow the event’s popularity across the globe.
As we brace up for the inaugural match of Season 3 in Guwahati this evening, we look at the PBL rules, format and modifications made this year.
Number of players in a squad
Each of the teams—Ahmedabad Smash Masters, North Eastern Warriors, Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Blasters, Mumbai Rockets, Chennai Smashers, Hyderabad Hunters and Delhi Dashers—have a maximum of 10 players that include a minimum of four Indians.
A maximum of five foreign players are allowed in each team and the presence of three female shuttlers is a must. Besides, each of the squad has to have atleast one icon player and a maximum of two.
From this season onwards, each of the teams has one player from the U-17 category. Also, the rule says, no player plays back-to-back matches. In unavoidable circumstances, a 5-minute gap will be allowed between the consecutive matches if the same player is playing.
Five ties for each team
Each of the eight teams will play five ties against other teams and hence it makes 20 league games followed by the two semi-finals and final, a substantial increase in no. of days from 14 to 23. Each tie will comprise of five matches--men's singles, men's doubles, women's singles, mixed doubles and men's singles. After the end of the league, the top four teams with maximum points will proceed to the semi-finals, which will be decided by a draw of lots.
In the case of two teams ending up with the same points after the league stage, the team with more head to head wins (more points, not wins) will advance. In case of a 3-way tie after league stage, then the team with more net games won will get the preference.
15-point game from 11-point game
An alteration since last year which saw the matches being played best of three games with the team racing to 11 points winning. Instead of following the regular 21-point game, organisers chose to make it 15-point game. Also in place of two ties, played last year, this year there will be a single tie in a day, a modification made to drive more crowd and TV viewership.
Believed to be the game changer, this rule was introduced in the last edition in order to add more excitement and spice to the league. According to the 'Trump match' rules, both teams need to specify which will be their respective Trump Match along with the list of players at least one hour before the start of the tie with the referee. Both the teams are allowed to have their Trumps in the same game.
In a Trump match, the team that has called for gets 2 points for a win and -1 point for a loss. However, the other team will play it as a normal match (they get a point for a win). If both the teams place the trump on the same match, then for both of them +2 or -1 scoring will apply for win or loss respectively.
Also, a team cannot put the same player in the trump matches proposed by them more than twice in the league stage and once in the knock out stage.
Challenges and breaks
Each player is allowed 1 unsuccessful challenge per match. In addition, each team is allowed 1 challenge (successful or unsuccessful) across the course of the 5 matches in a tie.
During the games, there will be a maximum 1-minute break whenever the lead scorer reaches 8 points. In between the games, there will be a minimum of 1-minute break and a maximum of a 5-minute break between matches.