The second edition of the CEAT UTT will be held in Pune, Delhi and Kolkata, in line with the TTFI and 11Sports’ vision to take the sport of table tennis to different cities every year and steadily popularise it across the country.
The 18-day long popular event that attracts some of the world’s best players has upped the stakes by offering a total purse of ₹3 crore, with the champions taking home ₹1 crore, the runners-up ₹75 lakh and the two losing semi-finalists ₹50 lakh each. The remaining ₹25 lakh will be given to the top individual performers, states a Press release.
The CEAT UTT will begin on June 14th at the Balewadi Indoor Stadium in Pune before moving to Delhi’s Thyagaraj Stadium on June 20 for the second leg; the bandwagon will then shift to Kolkata’s Netaji Indoor Stadium on June 26, where the grand finale will also be held on July 1. The inaugural edition had been held in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai.
Speaking on the new venues, Mr. MP Singh, Secretary General of TTFI, said, “We are excited to take CEAT UTT to new cities where the fans can enjoy the game at its highest level. The CEAT UTT received great response in the inaugural season and we are ready to kick off another edition of a world-class Table Tennis experience for the fans.”
Six teams will be in the fray, who have already picked their respective Indian and foreign coaches during the Coach Draft held earlier this month. The coaches, along with their management, have been given time to draw their plans to lineup a strong team for the upcoming Edition.
Each franchise can retain one Indian player (either male or female) before the player draft. Those who don’t opt for this will get the opportunity to pick their first player ahead of those who choose to retain a player.
Mr. Kamlesh Mehta, Director 11Sports, said, “We have reduced the number of matches in each tie from nine to seven for this edition, making each contest more compact and competitive. The retention policy adds an extra step of strategy and it will be interesting to see how the six franchisees tackle the player draft on March 28th in Mumbai. Unlike other major sporting leagues in India, the CEAT UTT is a club-based league, rather than city-based, which helps us take the sport to different cities to popularise the game.”
Eight-time National Champion Sharath Kamal and the highest ranked Indian player G. Sathiyan will be the hottest picks and RP-SG Mavericks and Dabang Smashers TTC will surely aim to retain them before that. The first edition’s champions, Falcons TTC, too will probably gold on to giant slayer Sanil Shetty, who won many important games on their way to the title.
In all, the CEAT UTT will have 15 league ties, with each tie played on a seven (as opposed to nine in the inaugural edition) individual match basis. Each individual match will consist of three games on a race to 11, with each game winner being awarded one point. Each league tie will thus have 21 points to play for; the four franchisees with the highest points in the league stage will advance to the semi-finals.