The second season of the Grand Prix Badminton League (GPBL) will be held in a new avatar in August this year.
The first season saw the top players from Karnataka with the teams mentored by the who-is-who of Indian badminton including PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Ashwini Ponappa, Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, HS Prannoy, Chirag Shetty and Jwala Gutta, will now add an international flavor along with top-ranked Indian players in the second edition.
Announcing the development, League Commissioner Prashanth Reddy said that the success of GPBL Season-1 was instrumental in elevating it to the National level.
“In the wake of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) not being conducted over the past three years, GPBL is being elevated to a National level event. We were preparing for the second season of GPBL and at the insistence of players and the team owners, we are going ahead with GPBL as a National event,” said Prashanth who is also the co-owner of Bengaluru Raptors, the defending champions of PBL while adding, “We are amplifying the efforts of BAI in helping the players to earn their livelihood from the sport. GPBL follows a completely different format and is more a made-for-television event in an attempt to popularise the game of badminton in India while giving an opportunity for the aspiring players to earn decent monies.”
GPBL intends to increase the number of teams from eight to 10 and will have a pool of over 150 players including about 25 international players who will go under the hammer. “The idea is to give players from across India a chance to rub shoulders with the best players and build a platform for these players to acclimatize to the tougher competitions abroad,” said Prashanth.
Some of the top players to feel that such leagues go a long way in shaping the career of badminton players. “I feel that leagues such as GPBL not only give the players a platform to showcase their skills on an international forum but also help financially. We are in dire need of tournament exposure, especially for those on the threshold of making their international debut,” said India’s star shuttler PV Sindhu.
“The GPBL was a different experience for me. Even though it was a state league, the competition was intense. The live television coverage and the aura created around the event were huge and it really felt like it was an international event. The prize money was substantial which we don’t get to see in domestic events,” said Mithun Manjunath who is ranked No.43 in the BWF rankings.
Sai Praneeth, who was the only participant in the men’s singles during the last Olympics, feels that players should be allowed to choose the tournaments they wish to play. “I think it is every player’s right to choose the tournaments they participate in. Leagues help a player in funding their training and self-sustenance,” said the 30-year-old who had risen to world No.10 in 2019.
The GPBL which is likely to be held between the first and second week of August will also play as a warm-up event before the World Championship to be held in Denmark from Aug 21-27.