It is safe to say that the Indian Premier League has changed the face of Indian Sports. Since the IPL’s success, a number of sports have tried to emulate the same formula with a franchise based league of their own. And one league which has definitely found success is the Pro Kabaddi League! Launched in 2014, the competition’s seventh season is set to start on 20th July. The league also added four new teams in 2017, taking the tally to 12 teams in total. Looking at the fan following, there is no doubt that the upcoming season will be a huge success as well. So before the season starts, let us get to know a little bit about the previous winners. Here is the list of Pro Kabaddi winners in the first six seasons:
1Jaipur Pink Panthers (2014):
Following IPL’s footsteps, Pro Kabaddi League also had an inaugural champion from the city of Jaipur. Abhishek Bachchan’s Jaipur Pink Panthers won the first season of the Pro Kabaddi League, defeating U Mumba in the final.
Eight teams competed in the double round robin format in the fight to finish in the top four. Bengaluru Bulls and Patna Pirates were the other two semi-finalists along with Jaipur and Mumbai based franchise.
U Mumba defeated the Bulls 27-23 while Jaipur crushed Patna Pirates 38-18 to set up the first ever Pro Kabaddi League final. In the final, played in Mumbai, the Panthers defeated Mumbai 35-24 to win the first ever PKL Championship. U Mumba’s captain Anup Kumar was named the Player of the Season. He was the best raider of the tournament, winning 155 points for his team.
Also Read | Learn the Basic Skills of Kabaddi
2U Mumba (2015):
After missing out on the title in the first season, U Mumba finally got their hands on the trophy next year. The Mumbai-based team was dominant throughout the season and finished the group stages at the top of the table.
Telugu Titans, Bengaluru Bulls, and Patna Pirates also qualified for the semi-finals as the 2014 Champions Jaipur Pink Panthers missed out. The Bulls defeated Titans 39-38 in the closely fought contest while U Mumba made it to the second consecutive final with a 35-18 win against Pirates.
Led by one of India’s top raider Anup Kumar, U Mumba won the title in the second season, defeating Bengaluru Bulls 36-30 in the final. Manjeet Chhillar of the Bulls was named the Player of the Season for his all-round performance throughout the tournament.
3Patna Pirates (January 2016):
In the first season of the Pro Kabaddi League, people tuned in due to curiosity and stayed for the second season because they liked it. The response in stadiums and TV ratings was exceptional. As a result, the organizers decided to make PKL a bi-annual affair, in January and July.
And although the format remained the same with double round robin for eight teams, the competition now became a caravan, playing matches in every city for three days.-- Advertisement --
U Mumba and Patna Pirates qualified for the semi-finals for the third consecutive time while Puneri Paltan and Bengal Warriors made it to the last four the first time. The Pirates defeated Pune 40-21 in the semi-final to enter the final of the tournament for the first time in three attempts. On the other hand, U Mumba defeated Bengal 41-29 to complete the hat-trick of finals.
But the Mumbai based team could not defend the title as Patna Pirates won the final 31-28, bagging a trophy and ₹1 crore in the process. Rohit Kumar of the Pirates was awarded Man of the Series for winning 102 raid points throughout the tournament.
4Patna Pirates (July 2016):
The third season of the Pro Kabaddi League was the start of the dominance for Patna Pirates. After suffering defeats in the semi-finals of the first two seasons, the Pirates were hungry to make up for it.
In the fourth season, being played just 6 months after the previous one, the Pirates dominated the group stage, finishing ahead of Telugu Titans, Jaipur Pink Panthers, and Puneri Paltan. U Mumba missed out on the top four for the first time after finishing fifth due to inferior score different to Pune.
The Pirates defeated Pune in the repeat of January semi-final while the Panthers won 34-24 against Telugu Titans to return to the final after two years. Patna became the first team to successfully defend the title after beating Jaipur 37-29 in the final.
5Patna Pirates (2017):
After trying a bi-annual league in 2016, the organizers returned to their July-only schedule for the fifth season of the Pro Kabaddi League. Four more teams were added, UP Yoddha, Tamil Thalaivas, Haryana Steelers and Gujarat Fortune Giants, taking the tally to 12 teams in total but no one could stop Patna Pirates from completing the hat-trick.
12 teams were divided into two zones of six teams each. With three games each against the opponents from the same zone, one each against teams from the other zone, and one wild card inter-zone match, all 12 teams played 22 games in total. Newbies Gujarat Fortune Giants finished at the top of Zone A while Bengal Warriors topped Zone B.
Along with the Zone toppers, teams ranked second and third from each zone were involved in a six-way Play-off. Gujarat made it to the final in their first-ever season where they faced two times champions Patna Pirates. The title holders won the final 55-38 to complete the hat-trick of championships.
The fifth season was a big expansion of the league as the total number of matches went up to 138 from 60 in the first four seasons.
6Bengaluru Bulls (2018):
The same zonal format continued for the sixth season of Pro Kabaddi League, with 12 teams in total. Gujarat once again topped the Zone A while Bengaluru Bulls finished first in Zone B.
Three-time champions, Patna Pirates failed to even make it to the playoffs, finishing fourth in Zone B. U Mumba returned to the playoffs after missing out in the previous two seasons. Dabang Delhi and UP Yoddha also entered the playoff race for the first time in the competition.
The Bulls defeated Gujarat in the first qualifier to enter the final for the second time after 2015. But Gujarat also qualified for the second consecutive final, defeating UP Yoddha 38-31 in the qualifier 2.
Bengaluru Bulls, the 2014 semi-finalists and 2015 finalists, finally got their hands on the trophy, after winning the final 38-33. Gujrat, on the other hands, Gujarat suffered second consecutive defeat in the final.
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