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Pro Volleyball League 2019: 5 Takeaways from Season 1

Chennai Spartans emerged as the winners of the inaugural edition of RuPay PVL
Chennai Spartans emerged as the winners of the inaugural edition of RuPay PVL

The inaugural edition of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019 came to an end after a spell of thrilling volleyball action over a course of twenty days from 2nd to 22nd February 2019. The league was the brainchild from the joint initiative or the Volleyball Federation of India and Baseline Ventures.

Chennai Spartans emerged as the champions of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League 2019, overcoming the Calicut Heroes in a dominating victory in front of their home crowd in Chennai. The Spartans won 3-0 (15-11, 15-12, 16-14) crushing the undefeated Calicut Heroes in a strong all-around performance.

The league followed the lines of other successful leagues in India like Pro Kabaddi League, Indian Premier League, Premier Badminton League and others. We take a look at five takeaways after the conclusion of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League below:

#5 PVL Innovations can revolutionise volleyball

The RuPay Pro Volleyball League tweaked the rules of volleyball to make it more interesting for the fans and it most definitely worked.

Every set in the inaugural edition of the league was of 15 points, unlike the conventional 25-point set in international volleyball. This made the sets smaller, switching the game into a faster gear and making it exciting to watch.

The league also introduced concepts like Super Point and Super Serve to help the teams win more points at critical junctures. Each ace served was awarded two points to the serving team, called as Super Serve. The teams also got a chance to win two points in one by calling in a Super Point in every set.

4. India to be the next destination of foreign players

David Lee proved to be one of the crowd favourites in Kochi 
David Lee proved to be one of the crowd favourites in Kochi

Every franchise drafted two foreign players who came in with experience gathered from playing for their national sides as well as clubs around the world. David Lee, one of the most popular volleyball players in the world was the marquee signing for the Kochi Blue Spikers.

The way the league got kickstarted and gained huge popularity within the country, the foreign signees further validated the popular opinion, having shared that they have received positive responses from their friends back home. With the aid of social media and the digital domain, the league reached to the corners of the world, leading to wide interests from volleyball players and fans from different countries.

Paul Lotman of Calicut Heroes said, "I have spoken to some of my friends from the national team and they are all very interested. I can’t name anyone. But depending on what plans the league has for the next year, some of them might come down. The response has been great back home and one of the reasons is the kind of coverage the league is getting on TV."

Joy Bhattacharjya, CEO of the RuPay Pro Volleyball League added to it and said, "Around 100-150 players from abroad have enquired about how to get into the league."

While the plans for the second season of the league have already started floating around, it will not be a big surprise if we get to see more foreign players in action.

#3 India have players to become a major force in Asian Volleyball

It’s safe to say that the Indian national volleyball team has not made a lasting impact in the international or Asian stage until now. At the 2018 Asian Games, the Indian team lost at the pre-quarterfinals stage. However, with the platform being provided by the league, Indian players have managed to get noticed through their performances.

With match-winning performances and topping the charts in certain statistics, the Indian players have showcased that they are ready to take Indian volleyball to new heights.

Ajith Lal C finished the league as the Most Valuable Player of the RuPay PVL 2019
Ajith Lal C finished the league as the Most Valuable Player

Jerome Vinith and Ajith Lal C finished as the second and third highest points scorers of the inaugural edition with 86 and 84 points respectively. Ajith was also the second-ranked in the most spike points, with a total of 74 points to his name.

Naveen Raja Jacob topped the serve points table with 17 points, followed by Karthik A (16 points) and Jerome Vinith (12 points).

These performances have definitely put India on the global map of volleyball.

#2 Kerala derby can be the next big sporting rivalry

Regional derbies have always attracted fans into stadiums and kept them glued to their television boxes at home. Be it Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal F.C. (Kolkata Derby) in the I-League, Mumbai City FC vs Pune City FC (Maharashtra Derby) in the ISL, or Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Chennai Super Kings (South-India derby) in the IPL, these matches have seen large numbers of fans.

Kochi Blue Spikers vs Calicut Heroes
Kochi Blue Spikers vs Calicut Heroes

Similarly, in the RuPay Pro Volleyball League, the match between Calicut Heroes and Kochi Blue Spikers got the most attention of the fans. The two teams from Kerala, which is one of the states with most volleyball associated fan following in India, found fans cheering for them throughout the course of the league.

The tickets for match 8, which was contested between the two teams, were sold out even before the league started and the stadium was filled with fans wearing blue and red jerseys to show their support for their favourite teams. Seeing the response to the inaugural season of the league, it won't be long before we see yet another rivalry spring up in Indian sports.

#1 India loves its volleyball

It was no surprise that the Indian fans turned up in huge numbers to the stadiums to watch games. Tickets were sold out for most of the games in Kochi, testament to the popularity of the game in the city.

People came in big numbers in all the RuPay PVL matches
People came in big numbers in all the RuPay PVL matches

While this was the case with spectators coming in physically to watch matches, it was no different with respect to television ratings.

The first week of the league saw about 14.3 million viewers tune in to the RuPay Pro Volleyball League on television, while the digital platform had almost 1 million viewers. The average match impressions for every match were about 237,000, while the first 12 matches were viewed by one million users on Sony LIV, the digital platform of Sony Pictures Networks India.

On the back of these solid numbers in the first season of the league itself, it is not hard to say that the sport has established a fan following across the country.

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Edited by Rishikesh
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