World champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and numero uno Chinese Taipei shuttler Tai Tzu Ying will be up for grabs when the high-profile Players' Auction for the lucrative Premier Badminton League (PBL) gets underway here tomorrow. Axelsen, the newly crowned World No. 1 after he clinched his maiden World Championship gold at Glasgow, and reigning All England champion Tai Tzu, who also won titles at Malaysia, Singapore, have confirmed their participation at the PBL, to be organised by Sportzlive under the aegis of Badminton Association of India (BAI). Rio Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain and India's World No. 2 P V Sindhu, World Championship bronze medallist, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth are expected to be the top draws during the auction, which allows each franchise to spend Rs 2.12 crore on their team. A total of 133 players will go under the hammer. As many as 10 Olympic medallists (including 3 multiple medal winners) and eight medallists from the recently- concluded World Championships have confirmed their presence for the Rs 6 crore League, which gets under way in December. Interestingly, China will also be well represented this time, with their World No. 11 men's singles player Tian Houwei putting his hat in the ring. PBL 3 will be a strong eight -team league, with the addition of two more franchises.
It will begin on December 22 and conclude on January 14 and will enthral fans at Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Chennai and Guwahati. Each team can splurge a maximum of Rs 72 lakh on one player out of their total purse of Rs 2.12 crore. Axelsen, Son Wan Ho of Korea and Srikanth among men and Tai Tzu, Marin, Sindhu, Saina, Sung Ji Hyun of Korea and Tzu Wei Wang of Taiwan among women have been granted icon status. Players from as many as 11 countries, including China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Germany and Hong Kong will be up for grabs in the mega auction. All the available players will go through the auction process, with the six existing teams allowed to invoke their 'Right to Match' (RTM) option. This will not only make the bidding process more intriguing but will also test the strategic acumen of each team. BAI president and chairman of PBL, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, "We are glad to be back with the third season and promise our fans and the players that we will leave no stone unturned to make it bigger and better with each passing year and deliver a world class League." The 24-day league will see eight teams -- Delhi Acers, Mumbai Rockets, Bengaluru Blasters, Chennai Smashers, Hyderabad Hunters, North Eastern Warriors, Ahmedabad Smash Masters and Awadhe Warriors -- in action.
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