In the seven seasons played so far, vivo Pro Kabaddi has seen it all from dramatic upsets to season-dominating team performances.
Every team has had a unique journey in the league. In our first feature chronicling these journeys, here’s a look at some of the most memorable campaigns over the years.
Led by stalwarts like Jasvir Singh and Navneet Gautam in the first season, Jaipur Pink Panthers justified their popularity by lifting the PKL title in the inaugural season. A young Maninder Singh led the charge for them by scoring a match-winning Super 10.
The team managed to reach the final again in Season 4 but were unable to get over the line. The team has featured many kabaddi veterans over the years from Manjeet Chhillar to Anup Kumar. Their most recent campaign in Season 7 saw them being led by the Indian Men’s Kabaddi team captain Deepak Niwas Hooda.
The inaugural champions will come into Season 8 eager to prove that they are still as hungry as they were in the first season.
2) U Mumba
A team that reached the Playoffs in five of the seven seasons they have played so far, U Mumba has been a powerhouse of talent. After losing out to Jaipur Pink Panthers in the first PKL season, they came back to lift the vivo Pro Kabaddi trophy in Season 2. They also made it to the final in the subsequent season but lost out to Patna Pirates by just 3 points.
The team has been consistent but they will hope that in Season 8 they can keep up the intensity of the league-stage matches in the Playoffs and bring their home city of Mumbai glory once again.
Three time champions, the only team to successfully defend a vivo Pro Kabaddi title, the team with the most number of total points, raid points, and all-outs inflicted in PKL history.
Two successful title defences later, they had a hat-trick of vivo Pro Kabaddi titles and became the most successful team in the league. Team’s talisman Pardeep Narwal broke record after record while helping the team scale new heights of success.
Season 8 will see Patna Pirates hunting for their former glory once again after missing out on even a Playoffs spot in Season 6 and 7.
Bengaluru Bulls had their first chance to win the PKL title when they clashed with U Mumba in the vivo Pro Kabaddi Season 2 final. However, Anup Kumar’s men managed to take the title home, leaving Bengaluru Bulls still hunting for their maiden title.
The wait ended in Season 6 when a young talent named Pawan Sehrawat emerged almost out of the blue to take the team to their maiden title. Earning the title of Hi-Flyer after his exploits in Season 6, Sehrawat has remained one of the most feared raiders in the league.
Sehrawat’s dominance wasn’t enough to take the team past the Eliminator stage in Season 7 though. But Season 8 will give them a chance to put the past behind and take back the title.
After placing at the bottom of the points table in the first two vivo Pro Kabaddi Seasons, Puneri Paltan finished third and fourth in Seasons 3 and 4 respectively. They kept this momentum in Season 5 as well, before being eliminated in the Playoffs by eventual champions Patna Pirates.
The team boasts of a strong defensive setup every season and they have the third-highest number of tackle points across seasons and the third-most number of Super Tackles inflicted across seasons as well to show for this.
Season 7 saw the team take on the services of veteran Anup Kumar as the coach. Young names headlined the team’s raiding roster with Pankaj Mohite and Manjeet leading the charge. However, the team couldn’t make it beyond the league stage.
They will undoubtedly come back in Season 8 with an aim to cement their place among the top teams with a title.
After a slew of ordinary outings in the first five seasons of the league, Dabang Delhi K.C. found new hope through their star raider Naveen Kumar. The youngster dominated the vivo Pro Kabaddi stage and took the team to their first Playoffs berth in Season 6.
The Joginder Narwal-led side did one better in the following season with a spot in the final and the tag of favourites to their name. However, Naveen Kumar’s Super 10 in the final got eclipsed by Bengal Warriors’ all-round performance and the team had to settle for second place.
Keeping their rise going, the team will aim for glory when they take the mat in Season 8.
After multiple Playoffs appearances in Seasons 3, 5, and 6, Bengal Warriors finally got their due in Season 7 courtesy some exceptional kabaddi across the board. Maninder Singh and Iranian Mohammad Esmail Nabibakhsh were the stars for the team throughout the season with the latter scoring a match-winning Super 10 in the final.
Their recent performances have proved that Bengal Warriors have what it takes to challenge the opposition till the end. Their success shows the importance of team cohesion to succeed in PKL.
A successful title defence is on the cards for Bengal Warriors as they gear up for Season 8.
After picking up talisman Rahul Chaudhari in the first-ever vivo Pro Kabaddi Player Auction, Telugu Titans looked set for big things. However, after finishing second in Season 4, the team lost a bit of their momentum – failing to make it to the Playoffs in the following seasons.
Season 7 saw Baahubali Siddharth Desai partner with brother Suraj Desai to lead the raiding department. Iranian coach Gholamreza Mazandarani was also brought into the fold. But even this couldn’t turn the team’s fortunes around.
The team has the third-highest raid points and fourth-highest total points scored across seasons but they haven’t been able to convert those successes into a title. Season 8 will give the team from the south another chance to do just that and come out victorious.