Ultimate Table Tennis: From free entry into stadiums to the new format, all you need to know
Here's your ultimate guide to the Ultimate Table Tennis League, which begins from Thursday. From fixtures, to key players, we decode it for you:
Come Thursday, table tennis will become the latest sport to have a franchise-based league in India with the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) League, which will be the first-ever professional table tennis league in the country.
UTT, which will conclude on 30 July, will be played across three cities. Chennai will host the first leg of the league (13 July to 20 July) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium, followed by Delhi's Thyagaraj Stadium (21 July to 25 July). The final leg, including the semi-final and finals, will be played at The National Sports Club of India (NSCI) in Mumbai between 26 July to 30 July.
The three-week UTT will be a great opportunity for young players, especially upcoming players from India, to train, learn and play with and against top paddlers from across the globe.
"This is the best thing to have happened to table tennis over the last fifty years. This league will give players the opportunity to play with the best in the world. We want to take table tennis to the next level and want India to win a medal in the 2024 Olympic Games," said Niraj Bajaj, 11Even Sports' co-promoter and former national men's singles champion.
The league is unique in the fact that it will allow spectators the opportunity to experience live action from the stadium at no cost. Only an online registration is required to get an entry pass. Registration for the Chennai and Delhi legs is currently underway on bookmyshow.com. A maximum of six tickets can be booked in a transaction.
Teams and owners:
The league is scheduled to be conducted for 10 years with each team paying Rs 2.6 crore every year as franchisee fees. The salary of the players ranges between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh, depending on their ranking. The winner of the competition will receive Rs 1 crore from a total purse of Rs 3 crore.
Another aspect which distinguishes it from other sports leagues around the country is that UTT will have six clubs, instead of city-based franchises. Here’s a look at the six franchises and their owners.
Dabang Smashers T.T.C. is owned by Radha Kapoor Khanna of DolT Sports
RP-SG Mavericks is co-owned by Sanjiv Goenka of RP-SG Group and Utsav Parekh
DHFL Maharashtra United is owned by The Rajesh Wadhawan Group
Falcons T.T.C. is owned by a consortium comprising of the owners of I-League club “Chennai City Football Club” Rohit Ramesh (Shareholder Director of the The Hindu Group) and Krishnakumar R (Chartered Accountant and Entrepreneur) and Raju Poosapati and Krishna from Transend Sports League Private Limited.
Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas is owned by Kapil Garg, Chairman and Managing Director, Oilmax Energy and Vivek Kohli of Stag International
Shazé Challengers is owned by Vivek Bhargava, CEO, DAN Performance Group
The tournament follows a round-robin format, i.e. each team plays the other once, with the top four making it into the semi-finals. The event will be played in an interesting format where each team will play nine matches. Each match will have three 11-point games. In the event when the scores are level at 10-all then the 11th point will be a 'golden point' and shall decide the winner. Consequently, each tie comprises of a total 27 games i.e. nine matches multiplied by three games. The team that wins 14 or more Games out of the 27 Games shall be the Winner of that respective tie.
— Ultimate TableTennis (@UltTableTennis) July 8, 2017
Players to watch out for:
A total of 48 players — 24 Indian and 24 foreign — will feature in the inaugural edition of UTT, who were slated into six franchises in the players' draft that happened last month on 9 June. Each team will have some of the world’s best male and female paddlers.
With a mix of top international as well as national paddlers from across the world participating in the league, the main attraction of UTT is the World No 7 Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong, among the men, who will represent Maharashtra United. Among the women, World No 9 Han Ying of Germany will be a part of Shazé Challengers.
World No 11 Wu Yang is the only Chinese paddler in the competition and will be a part of Falcons TTC outfit. The face of Indian table tennis, World No 44 Sharath Kamal, was bagged by RP-SG Mavericks and the 22-year-old Manika Batra, who represented India at Rio 2016 will be playing for Oilmax Stag Yoddhas.
Along with the players, a total of 12 coaches — an equal mix of Indian and foreign — were also a part of the draft system.
Sponsors: UTT is owned and developed by 11Even Sports Private Limited (ESPL), a Mumbai-based company exclusively formed for the promotion and development of the game of table tennis in India. ESPL said in a release that their aim "is that in 2024, Indian players should be on the Olympic podium. UTT is one of very important international exposure."
CEAT will be the title sponsor while Star India bagged the broadcasting rights of the tournament.
The league will be broadcast live on Star Sports Select 2 HD, Star Sports Select 2, Hotstar and JioTV from 7.30 PM onwards daily from 13 to 30 July.
Complete Squad List:
Falcons T.T.C. – Wu Yang (China), Lee Ho Ching (Hong Kong), Par Gerell (Sweden), Sanil Shetty, Liam Pitchford (England), Suthirtha Mukherjee, Arjun Ghosh, Priyadarshini Das
Coaches – Soumyadeep Roy and Francisco Santos
DHFL Maharashtra United – Wong Chun Ting (Hong Kong), Liu Jia (Austria), Yu Fu (Portugal), Harmeet Desai, Joao Monteiro(Portugal), Krittwika Sinha Roy, Pooja Sahasrabudhe, Ronit Bhanja.
Coaches – Arup Basak and Ferenc Karsai
Shazé Challengers – Han Ying (Germany), Petrissa Solja (Germany), Soumyajit Ghosh, Andrej Gacina (Croatia), Mouma Das, Manav Thakkar, Moumita Dutta, Li Ping (Qatar).
Coaches – A. Murlidhara Rao and Elena Timina
Dabangg Smashers T.T.C. – Marcos Freitas (Portugal), Hu Melek (Turkey), Kou Lei (Ukraine), Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Amalraj Anthony, Madhurika Patkar, Mousumi Paul, Tetyana Bilenko (Ukraine).
Coaches – N.Ravichandran and Ilija Lupulesku
Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas – Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong), Gionis Panagiotis (Greece), Aruna Quadri (Nigeria), Manika Batra, Polina Mikhailova (Russia), Jubin Kumar, Abhishek Yadav, Selena Selvakumar.
Coaches – Sandeep Gupta and Vesna Ojstersek
RP-SG Maverics – Stefan Fegerl (Austria), Sharath Kamal, Tiago Apolonia (Portugal), Sofia Polcanova (Austria), Sabine Winter (Germany), Archana Kamath, Birdie Boro, Amruta Pushpak.
Coaches – Sachin Shetty and Peter Engel
13 July: RP-SG Mavericks vs Falcons TTC
14 July: Shaze Challengers vs Dabang Smashers TTC
15 July: Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas vs Maharashtra United
16 July: Dabang Smashers vs TTC Falcons
17 July: Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas vs Shaze Challengers
18 July: Maharashtra United vs RP-SG Mavericks
19 July: Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas vs Falcons TTC
20 July: Dabang Smashers TTC vs RP-SG Mavericks
21 July: Shaze Challengers vs Falcons TTC
22 July: Maharashtra United vs Dabang Smashers TTC
23 July: Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas vs RP-SG Mavericks
24 July: Maharashtra United vs Shaze Challengers
25 July: Oilmax-Stag Yoddhas vs Dabang Smashers TTC
26 July: Maharashtra United vs Falcons TTC
27 July: Shaze Challengers vs RP-SG Mavericks
28 July: Semi-final 1: Team 1 vs Team 4
29 July: Semi-final 1: Team 2 vs Team 3