UTT 2019: With new teams, revitalised format, tournament aims to be more entertaining and engaging in latest edition

The third edition of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) gets underway on 25 July with defending champions Dabang Delhi taking on Puneri Paltan at the Thyagraj Stadium in New Delhi. The stadium will witness three straight weeks of intense table tennis by players from across the world in a revitalised format.

With G Sathiyan, Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai the headline stars from India, the third edition will be played in a single city and the matches are slated to be shorter.

Each team will play five ties — compared to seven last year — with a match decided over three games. If the scores are tied at 10-all, a golden point shall decide the winner. The order of play will be women’s singles, men’s singles, mixed doubles, men’s singles and women’s singles.

The idea behind a snappier format, says Kamlesh Mehta - a former India paddler now selector and part of the organising committee in the league - is to keep the attending fans and those watching at home on TV entertained. With attention spans reducing and numerous sports innovating without degrading the quality of the sport, UTT has gone that way as well.

 UTT 2019: With new teams, revitalised format, tournament aims to be more entertaining and engaging in latest edition

(L-R) Benedikt Duda, Harmeet Desai, Sharath Kamal, Bernadette Szocs, Manav Thakkar, Alvaro Robles at the pre-event press conference of Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) Season 3.

"Major changes in this edition of UTT is that earlier it was 21 games to be played in the league stage. In the knockouts, the team which won the 11th point would win. Now we have shortened to five matches of three games so maximum of 15 games. In the league stage all 15 have to be played but in the knockouts the team with the eighth point is the winner. The idea is very simple - make it more compact and attractive. People want to watch and enjoy - it is not only about table tennis but there is an element of entertainment attached as well," he said on the sidelines of the ceremony announcing the league.

"Another change is that earlier we had a fixed format in terms of who will play whom. This time it is completely open. So you could see an Indian playing an Indian. It all comes down to the draw before the match. It becomes difficult to predict who the winner will be," he added.

The league has moved around in its three years. First edition was played in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai and second in Pune, Delhi and Kolkata. This time around, it has been made even more compact with just Delhi hosting the matches.

"Last year we did it in three cities but this time we're conducting the league in just one city. This is basis the feedback from players and coaches that they had to move to three cities. We decided let us try to have everything in one city if it is more comfortable for the players."

"We're not just looking at the game but also the holistic development of the game and relationship with the players. So if players are comfortable then they spread good word about the country. They are basically taking the image of India outside. Through UTT we're also looking at making the image of the country. Then people will know us not by UTT but more by India. So we're ensuring good hotels, good food, good transportation, good arrangements. It is ultimately going to help brand India," he clarified on the decision.

In a shift from club-based structure and team naming, the third edition will adopt the city-based league culture as witnessed by all other popular leagues in the country. Puneri Paltan TT, Chennai Lions and U Mumba TT are the three debutants while Goa Challengers have been rechristened.

"We're sticking with the six team format. The Indian component remains the same but with the matches getting shorter, the foreign component has reduced. There are three components - senior men's player, senior women's player and youth. With the youth we're trying that the aspiration is set and the young players get the exposure. It also enhances their vision, confidence and the fear goes away after 21 days of matches, practice alongside the seniors. Sure some juniors might lose badly to the seniors but that's sport - as the saying goes 'you win some and you learn some'. There's no 'losing'," he concluded.

All you need to know about Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) 2019 - third edition

Dates: 25th July to 11th August

Semi Finals: August 9 and 10

Final: 11th August

Venue: Thyagraj Stadium, New Delhi

Prize Money: Total Rs 2 crore (winners: Rs 75 lakh, Runners-up: Rs 50 lakh, Loser of each semi-final: Rs 25 lakh, other individual award winner (Total Purse): Rs 25 lakh)

SQUADS:

Dabang Delhi: Sathiyan G. (India), Bernadette Szocs (Romania), Jon Persson (Sweden), Parth Virmani (India), Naina (India), Krittwika Sinha Roy (India)

Puneri Paltan: Chuang Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei), Harmeet Desai (India), Ayhika Mukherjee (India), Selena Selvakumar (India), Ronit Bhanja (India), Sabine Winter (Germany)

Chennai Lions: Sharath Kamal (India), Petrissa Solja (Germany), Tiago Apolonia (Portugal), Madhurika Patkar (India), Yashini Sivasankar (India), Anirban Ghosh (India)

Mavericks Kolkata: Manika Batra (India), Benedikt Duda (Germany), Matilda Ekholm (Sweden), Manush Shah (India), Prapti Sen (India), Sanil Shetty (India)

U Mumba: Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong), Manav Thakkar (India), Sutirtha Mukherjee (India), Kirill Gerassimenko (Kazakhstan), Jeet Chandra (India), Moumita Dutta (India)

Goa Challengers: Cheng I-Ching (Chinese Taipei), Archana Kamath (India), Amalraj Anthony (India), Siddhesh Pande (India), Shruti Amrute (India), Alvaro Robles (Spain).

Schedule:

25 July: Dabang Delhi vs Puneri Paltan

26 July: Chennai Lions vs U Mumba

27 July: Mavericks Kolkata vs Goa Challengers

28 July: Chennai Lions vs Puneri Paltan

29 July: Dabang Delhi vs U Mumba

30 July: Mavericks Kolkata vs Puneri Paltan

31 July: Chennai Lions vs Goa Challengers

1 August: Mavericks Kolkata vs U Mumba

2 August: Dabang Delhi vs Goa Challengers

3 August: Puneri Paltan vs U Mumba

4 August: Dabang Delhi vs Mavericks Kolkata

5 August: U Mumba vs Goa Challengers

6 August: Chennai Lions vs Mavericks Kolkata

7 August: Puneri Paltan vs Goa Challengers

8 August: Chennai Lions vs Dabang Delhi

9 August: Semifinal

10 August: Semifinal

11 August: Final.

TV Broadcast: The matches will be telecast live on Star Sports Network and streamed on JioTV and Hotstar.

Updated Date: Jul 24, 2019 19:54:11 IST