The PKL (Pro Kabaddi League) began in 2014 intending to popularise the ancient sport of Kabaddi and provide a platform for players in the competition to make a name for themselves in a franchise-based competition. The PKL has helped the sport gain popularity by leaps and bounds, as is evident in the PKL becoming India's second-most-watched sporting competition after the IPL (Indian Premier League).
In its five-year history, seven seasons of the PKL have been held, with the success and viewership of the competition soaring every season. The PKL has helped Kabaddi players display their skills and earn national call-ups and other future opportunities .
Patna Pirates is the most successful team in PKL history, winning three titles in a row. The first four seasons of the PKL witnessed eight sides in the competition and featured over 60 matches per season. PKL Season 5 saw the addition of four new teams, making the PKL the most diverse sporting league in India in terms of the various regions in the country it now represents.
Five different teams have won the PKL. With the eighth season of the PKL set to commence soon, let us look at the teams who have won the title in the competition's history.
A look at the winners in all seven PKL seasons
PKL Season 1 - Jaipur Pink Panthers (2014)
PKL began in 2014, where eight teams clashed for over five weeks in a double round-robin format to finish in the top-4. The Abhishek Bachchan-owned Jaipur Pink Panthers won the inaugural season of PKL, defeating U Mumba by a 35-24 scoreline in the summit clash.
Earlier, Jaipur had won 10 of their 14 group-stage encounters and finished top of the table, while U Mumba occuied the second position with eight wins. In the semifinals, Jaipur defeated Patna Pirates 31-18 while the Anup Kumar-led U Mumba defeated Bengaluru Bulls 27-23 to advance to the final.
Mumba's skipper Anup Kumar scored the most raid points (155) and got adjudged the 'Most Valuable Player' of PKL Season 1. Rahul Chaudhari, with 151 raid points for Telugu Titans, won the 'Best Raider' award, while Manjeet Chhillar from Bengaluru Bulls finished as the top defender with 51 tackle points.
PKL Season 2 - U Mumba (2015)
After missing out in the final of the inaugural season of the PKL, U Mumba bounced back in the second season of the competition as Anup Kumar starred in a fabulous win. Shabeer Bappu's 3-pointer raid in the dying minutes of the PKL Season 2 final helped U Mumba script a comeback and beat Bengaluru Bulls 36-30.
The two teams had advanced to the final in contrasting fashion. While Bengaluru Bulls had a nail-biting 39-38 victory over Telugu Titans, U Mumba, who had lost only two games in the league stage, thrashed Patna Pirates 35-18.
For the second PKL season in a row, Anup Kumar led the raiding charts, winning the most raid points (74), while right corner Mohit Chhillar gained 42 tackle points for the champions.
Bengaluru Bulls' skipper Manjeet Chhillar won the 'Most Valuable Player' of the PKL Season 2 for his all-round efforts. Kashiling Adake (114 raid points) and Ravinder Pahal (60 tackle points) finished as the best raider and defender, respectively. Anup Kumar's brilliant captaincy, combined with a star-studded playing 7, took U Mumba to greater heights as they emerged as the last team standing in PKL Season 2.
PKL Season 3 - Patna Pirates (January-March 2016)
PKL Season 3 marked the beginning of Patna Pirates' dominance as they won their first title in the competition under the captaincy of Manpreet Singh.
Following the success of the first two PKL seasons, the third PKL season kicked off just five months after the completion of Season 2 as the response from fans and live viewers was exceptional.
In PKL Season 3, both U Mumba and Patna Pirates lost two of their 14 league stage games while Puneri Paltan and Bengal Warriors made it to the semi-finals for the first time. The competition was much intense as all teams were balanced, and most of the matches had close finishes.
U Mumba appeared in their third-straight PKL final by defeating Bengal Warriors 41-29. On the other hand, Patna Pirates advanced to the title match courtesy of the Pardeep Narwal-Rohit Kumar raiding duo as they beat Puneri Paltan 40-21.
U Mumba, however, failed to defend their title as PKL Season 3's MVP Rohit Kumar scored eight raid points to help Pirates become the PKL champions for the first time in a closely-fought contest that ended 31-28 in their favour.
The best defender of PKL Season 3 was Sandeep Narwal with 55 tackle points, who scored a High-5 in the summit clash as well. Runners-up U Mumba's Rishank Devadiga finished as the best raider in PKL Season 3 with 106 raid points to his name.
PKL Season 4 - Patna Pirates (June-July 2016)
Patna Pirates continued to assert their dominance in the fourth season of PKL, becoming the only team in the competition to successfully defend their title.
It was the first and only time thus far that a PKL season took place in the same calendar year. In the final, the Pirates thumped the inaugural PKL champions Jaipur Pink Panthers 37-29 to claim their second title in the competition.
Earlier, Patna Pirates finished at the top of the league table with ten wins to their name, followed by Telugu Titans, Jaipur Pink Panthers and Puneri Paltan. It was the first time U Mumba didn't make it to the playoffs.
In the semifinals, Pirates beat Puneri Paltan 37-33 for the second season in a row while the Pink Panthers ended the dream run of Telugu Titans 34-24.
Pardeep Narwal, the MVP of PKL Season 4, scored 16 raid points in the final to guide Pirates to their second titlein the competition . Pink Panthers retained their lead from the start, despite Dharmaraj Cheralathan-led Pirates scoring a fabulous High-5 courtesy Hadi Oshtorak.
Rahul Chaudhari scored 146 raid points in PKL Season 4 to emerge as the top raider while Iranian Fazel Atrachali scored a half-century of tackle points (52) to finish as the top-scoring defender in the season.
PKL Season 5 - Patna Pirates (2017)
The fifth edition of the PKL saw the number of teams increase from eight to 12, while the league duration now spanned 13 weeks.
Gujarat Fortune Giants, UP Yoddha, Haryana Steelers and Tamil Thalaivas were the four new teams introduced in the PKL Season 4. Despite the increased competition with more challenging fixtures, Patna Pirates, led by the heroics of Pardeep Narwal, completed a hat-trick of title wins in PKL Season 5.
PKL Season 5 saw the teams divided into Zones A and B based on their geographical locations. Newcomers, Gujarat Fortune Giants, topped the table in Zone A while Patna Pirates finished in second position in Zone B behind Bengal Warriors.
Pardeep Narwal's epic performance in the Eliminator 2 against Haryana Steelers, that included an 8-pointer raid, helped his team secure a 69-30. In Eliminator 3, Patna beat Puneri Paltan yet again (42-32), and then defeated Bengal Warriors 47-44 in Qualifier 2 to secure a place in the final.
Gujarat secured a direct berth in the final with a 42-17 win over Bengal Warriors in Qualifier 1.
The MVP for a second-consecutive PKL season was Pardeep Narwal. His 19 raid points in the final helped Pirates defeat Gujarat Fortune Giants 55-38.
Pardeep Narwal scored the most raid points (369) in a single season of the PKL while Surender Nada finished as the top defender in the season with 80 tackle points. Patna's Monu Goyat gained the fourth-highest raid points (191), which was a notable contribution in Pirates' third consecutive title victory.
PKL Season 6 - Bengaluru Bulls (2018)
PKL Season 6 saw the continuation of the competition's zonal format as 12 teams squaring off against each other for 13 weeks.
Two-time defending champions Patna Pirates' dream run came to an end as they failed to qualify for the PKL knockouts for the first time. Instead, Pawan Sehrawat's heroics shone through as Bengaluru Bulls landed their first PKL title.
The season witnessed more than five raiders scoring more than 200 raid points. Nitesh Kumar from UP Yoddha etched his name in the competition's record books by becoming the only PKL defender to score a century of tackle points.
The two finalists of PKL Season 6 - Gujarat Fortune Giants (Zone A) and Bengaluru Bulls (Zone B) - gained the top spot in their respective zones with 17 and 13 wins respectively.
Bengaluru Bulls directly qualified for the final by beating Gujarat 41-29 in Qualifier 1. Gujarat clawed their way back into the summit clash by beating UP Yoddha 38-31 in Qualifier 2.
In the PKL Season 6 final, Pawan Sehrawat wreaked havoc as his 22 raid points breached the sturdy cover defence of Sunil Kumar and Parvesh Bhainswal, helping the Bulls win 38-33.
Pawan Sehrawat ended as the season's MVP with 271 raid points as Pardeep Narwal's 233 raid points went in vain for the Pirates.
PKL Season 7 - Bengal Warriors (2019)
The Season 7 of the PKL saw two first-time finalists, Bengal Warriors and Dabang Delhi KC contesting for the title, with the Warriors emerging as the latest team to win the competition.
The season saw no zonal format as each team played all other teams twice in a double round-robin format. U Mumba, Haryana Steelers, Bengaluru Bulls and UP Yoddha were the other four teams that made into the PKL Season 7 playoffs.
Riding on Naveen Kumar's brilliance, who registered a tally of 21 consecutive Super-10s (22 in total), Dabang Delhi KC topped the league table. Led by their sensational captain Maninder Singh with well-balanced offence and defence, Bengal Warriors registered 14 wins to take second spot.
In the semifinals, Dabang Delhi defeated Bengaluru Bulls 44-38 while Bengal Warriors took care of U Mumba 37-35 to set up a PKL final between two first-time finalists.
Mohammad Nabibakhsh led Bengal Warriors in the final as captain Maninder Singh had injured himself in a league-stage fixture against Delhi. The Iranian all-rounder scored nine raid points with a solo tackle and led from the front as the Warriors beat Delhi 39-34 to win their first PKL title.
Naveen Kumar, who became the youngest player to score more than 300 raid points, bagged the Most Valuable Player award in PKL Season 7.
Pawan Sehrawat of Bengaluru Bulls was phenomenal with his career-best 346 raid points earning him the PKL best raider award of the season. U Mumba's skipper Fazel Atrachali made history by clinching the PKL best defender award for the second time by scoring 82 tackle points.
In an exciting season of the PKL, three raiders crossed the 300-raid point mark, while an overseas captain won a PKL title for the first time in the competition's history.