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Pro Kabaddi League
Pro Kabaddi League

The Pro Kabaddi League, currently known as Vivo Pro Kabaddi League for sponsorship purpose, is a professional-level Kabaddi league in India. It was launched in 2014 and is broadcast on Star Sports.

The leagues inception was influenced by the popularity of the Kabaddi tournament at the 2006 Asian Games. The format of the competition was influenced by Indian Premier League. The Pro Kabaddi League uses a franchise-based model and its first season was held in 2014 with eight teams each of which having paid fees of up to US$250,000 to join.

There were doubts over whether the PKL would be successful, noting that there were many leagues attempting to emulate the IPL's business model and success, and that unlike cricket, there were relatively fewer well-known players in Kabaddi. However, it was also noted that kabaddi was widely played in grassroots community settings, and could thus attract a wide variety of rural and metropolitan viewers for advertisers to target if the league gained significant traction.

The inaugural season was seen by 435 million viewers, second to the 2014 Indian Premier League's 552 million, while the first season final between Jaipur Pink Panthers and U-Mumba was watched by 86.4 million. Star Sports, the PKL's broadcaster, subsequently announced in 2015 that it would acquire a 74% stake in the league's parent company Mashal Sports.

For the 2017 a

nd 2018-19 season, the PKL added four new teams, and changed its format to split the teams into two divisions known as "zones". Soon the league returned to its regular double round-robin format for the 2019 season.

Seasons

Season 1

The first signing and auction of players for the 8 teams was held on 20 May 2014 in Mumbai. India's national kabaddi captain Rakesh Kumar was the priciest among the players bought for ₹12.80 lakh by the Patna Pirates.Sports Authority of India's Deepak Niwas Hooda was bought by Telugu Titans franchise for ₹12.60 lakh.Tae Deok Eom was the highest paid overseas player bought for ₹7 lakh by Patna franchise.

The duration of the season was from 26 July 2014 to 31 August 2014. There were double round robin matches along with two semifinals, third place and final games. 56 games were to be played in first round and 4 in play off stage making total of 60 games. 8 teams took part in first edition. First game was played on July 26 between U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers and the final was played on August 31 at Mumbai. Jaipur Pink Panthers beat U Mumba by 35-24 to win the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League.

Season 2

Star Sports Pro Kabaddi season 2 was from 18 July 2015 to 23 August 2015. There were 60 matches played with two semifinals, a third place play-off and a final. First game was played on July 18 between U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers and the final was played on August 23 at Mumbai between U Mumba and Bengaluru Bulls. U Mumba beat Bengaluru Bulls by 36-30 to win the 2015 season of Pro Kabaddi League. U Mumba stood first, Bengaluru Bulls stood second and Telugu Titans stood on third position in the league.

Season 3

Star Sports Pro Kabaddi Season 3 will have two editions. The CEO of Star India, Sanjay Gupta, confirmed that Star Sports Pro Kabaddi wants to make Pro Kabaddi, a 5-week event, happen 10 weeks a year by having two editions a year. The idea is to play the tournament once in January–February 2016 and once in June–July 2016. It also had 8 teams. Patna Pirates beat U Mumba by 3 points in the final in Delhi to take home the trophy. Puneri Paltan came third this season.

Season 4

The fourth season took place from June 25 to July 31, 2016, with the existing eight teams participating. Patna Pirates beat Jaipur Pink Panthers in the men's final. Season 4 also saw the launch of first professional woman kabaddi league, Women's Kabaddi Challenge (WKC). First season saw 3 teams namely Ice Divas, Fire Birds and Storm Queens battle it out to be the first ever WKC champions. The final, scheduled along with the men's final in Hyderabad, the Storm Queens defeated the Fire Birds.

Season 5

The 2017 season was the fifth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League, and it featured 12 teams, including new teams from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat. The team from Haryana is known as Haryana Steelers owned by JSW Sports.Sachin Tendulkar co-owns the Tamil Nadu team named Tamil Thalaivas. The Uttar Pradesh team is named as UP Yoddha owned by GMR group and Gujarat team is named as Gujarat Fortune Giants owned by Gautam Adani.

Auctions for the new season were held in May, before which the existing teams were allowed to retain one player each. The auction saw over 400 players go under the hammer and Rs 46.99 crores spent by the 12 teams.

The Pro Kabaddi League Season 5 started on July 28, 2017.

The most expensive pick of the auction was raider Nitin Tomar, who was bought by the Uttar Pradesh team for a sum of Rs 93 lakh. Following in second place was Rohit Kumar after the Bengaluru Bulls picked him for a Rs 81 lakhs price. The most expensive foreign player was South Korea's Lee Jang-kun after he was retained by the Bengal Warriors for Rs 80.3 lakhs.

The new season was slated to be the biggest league tournament of its kind in the history of Indian sports in terms of geographical coverage and duration. It featured 138 matches spread across a time period of 13 weeks across 11 states.

A children's Kabaddi tournament, known as KBD Juniors, was also organised between schools of the cities in which the matches were held.

Patna Pirates beat Gujarat Fortune Giants by 55-38 in the final with the Man of the Tournament Pardeep Narwal stealing the show with 19 raid points against a hopeless Fortune Giant defense for the first time in the tournament.

The award ceremony of the finale was hosted by Pooja Bhamrah. Pardeep Narwal was adjudged the man of the finale.

Season 6

The 2018 season is the sixth edition of the Pro Kabaddi League, and it features 12 teams. Auctions for the new season were held in which Haryana Steelers paid INR 1.51 Crores for Monu Goyat who became the highest paid player in the history of ProKabaddi league.

The most expensive foreign player this season is Fazel Atrachali from Iran. He was bought by U Mumba for INR 1 crore.

Zone B toppers, Bengaluru Bulls Beat The Zone A Toppers, Gujarat Fortune Giants by 38-33 in the final with the Man of the Tournament Pawan Kumar Sehrawat stealing the show with a record 22 raid points against the young Fortune Giants defence. For a consecutive second time Gujarat Fortunegiants have lost in the finals. The coach of Bengaluru Bulls, Randhir Singh was happy as his team finally won the tournament after underwhelming finishes in the previous couple of seasons. On the other hand, Manpreet Singh, the coach of the Gujarat Fortunegiants rued the opportunity to win the tournament after losing two successive finals.

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