Pro Kabaddi League (known as Vivo Pro Kabbadi for sponsorship reasons) or abbreviated to PKL is a men's professional Kabaddi league of India. It was launched in 2014 and is broadcast on Star Sports. However, Season 8 was postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the same season is scheduled to commence on 22 December 2021.
The league's inception was influenced by the popularity of the Kabaddi tournament at the 2006 Asian Games. The format of the competition was influenced by the 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 has paid fees of up to US$250,000 to join.
There were doubts over whether the Pro Kabaddi League would be successful, noting that many leagues were 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 attraction.
For the 2017 and 2018–19 season, the Pro Kabaddi League 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
The Pro Kabaddi League's rules are similar to that of the indoor team version of Kabaddi, but with additional rules to encourage more scoring. Kabaddi is a contact team sport, played between two teams of seven players.
The objective of the game is for a single player on offence, referred to as a "raider", to run into the opposing team's half of a court, touch out as many of their defenders as possible, and return to their own half of the court, all without being tackled by the defenders, and in a single breath. Points are scored for each player tagged by the raider, while the opposing team earns a point for stopping the raider. Players are taken out of the game if they are touched or tackled, but are brought back in for each point scored by their team from a tags or tackle.
Playing two "empty" raids in a row will trigger a "Do or Die", where the raider must score a point or they will be declared out.
When a defensive side has three or fewer players remaining, tackles scored are termed as "Super Tackle", which is worth two points instead of one.
The first signing and auction of players for the 8 teams were 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 the Telugu Titans franchise for ₹12.60 lakh. Tae Deok Eom was the highest paid overseas player bought for ₹7 lakh by the 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 the first round and 4 in the playoff stage, making a total of 60 games. 8 teams took part in the first edition. The first game was played on 26 July between U Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers and the final was played on 31 August at Mumbai. Jaipur Pink Panthers beat U Mumba by 35–24 to win the inaugural Pro Kabaddi League.
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.
The fourth season took place from 25 June to 31 July 2016, with the existing eight teams participating. Patna Pirates beat Jaipur Pink Panthers in the final. Season 4 also saw the launch of the first professional women's kabaddi league, Women's Kabaddi Challenge (WKC). The first season saw 3 teams namely Ice Divas, Fire Birds and Storm Queens battle out to be the first ever WKC champions. In the finale, scheduled along with the men's final in Hyderabad, the Storm Queens defeated the Fire Sourav Tomar play hard with u Mumba and got a new young player(NYP) Trophy.
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 ₹46.99 crores spent by the 12 teams.
The Pro Kabaddi League season 5 started on 28 July 2017.
The most expensive pick of the auction was raider Nitin Tomar, who was bought by the Uttar Pradesh team for a sum of ₹93 lakh. Following in second place was Rohit Kumar after the Bengaluru Bulls picked him for a ₹81 lakhs price. The most expensive foreign player was South Korea's Lee Jang-kun after he was retained by the Bengal Warriors for ₹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.
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 ₹1.51 crores for Monu Goyat who became the highest paid player in the history of Pro Kabaddi league.
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 Fortune Giants 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 Fortune Giants rued the opportunity to win the tournament after losing two successive finals.
The 2019 season is the seventh edition of the Pro Kabaddi League, and it features 12 teams. Auctions for the new season were held in Mumbai on 8 and 9 April. The franchises splashed out over 50 crores to acquire 200 players. Siddharth Sirish Desai became the most expensive buy of the season after Telugu Titans got the winning bid of him at ₹1.45 crore.
The most expensive foreign player of this season was Iranian Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh who was bought by Bengal Warriors for ₹77.75 lakh.
As termed by the organisers 'Most Toughest Season', the zonal system present in the previous season is removed, and each team will play against all the other teams twice. Top 6 teams will qualify for the playoffs. The top two teams will automatically make the semi-finals while the remaining four will battle it out in eliminators.Dabang Delhi and Bengal Warriors emerged as the winners in the semi finals and qualified to the final for the first time. In the final, Bengal Warriors outplayed Dabang Delhi by a margin of 39–34 and clinched their maiden Pro Kabaddi League title.
The season witnessed several records. Pardeep Narwal became the first ever player to reach 1000 points in the Pro Kabaddi League. Naveen Kumar scored 21 consecutive Super 10s and overall 22. While Pawan Sehrawat registered most individual points in a match (39) against Haryana Steelers. In this season, for the first time three raiders crossed the 300-raid points mark. Among the defenders, Neeraj Kumar of Patna Pirates scored most tackle points (11) in a match and equalled the record of Mohit Chillar (11).
The 2021 -22 Vivo Pro Kabaddi League(PKL) is the eighth season of Pro Kabaddi League. The season began on 22 December 2021. The usual travelling caravan format was changed to a single venue hosting all the matches of the season. Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, Bangalore was initially announced as the venue, but was later changed to the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Convention Center located in Whitefield, Bangalore.
As per the available data of the opening two weeks, Star Sports Pro Kabaddi viewership on TV increased by nearly 56% from the 2014 year's viewership. During the inaugural season, viewership was 43.5 crore (435 million) viewers, which was the second in India after the 56 crore (560 million) of IPL viewership. The online viewership also increased 1.3 crore unique visitors, which is 18.5 times than of last year's 7 lakh unique visitors. The third season which was flagged off on 30 January, recorded a surge in viewership with the opening week ratings 36 per cent higher than the week one viewership for its last season.
Prize money for the winner of season 6 was ₹3 crore. The first and second runners-up were awarded ₹1.83
crore and ₹1.2 crore respectively.
The consolidated prize money for season 7 is ₹8 crore. The champions of season 7 will bag ₹3 crore while the runners-up will receive ₹1.8 crore. The losing semifinalists will receive ₹90 lakh each and, the fifth and the sixth-placed teams will earn ₹45 lakh.