Road to PKL 6 Final
With a few days left in the Jaipur Pink Panthers’ home leg here in Panchkula followed by just the Bengal Warriors’ home leg in Calcutta, it’s perhaps the perfect time to assess the various permutations and combinations to see who could make the playoffs but also who could sit pretty at the top and understand why that positioning is so important yet again.
Who will play in the PKL6 Finals?
While both zones are interestingly poised for different reasons, let’s first look at the Road to the Finals itself to understand the overall landscape and WHY it is so essential to finish top of the table and how long or short that stretch to the Finals can be for some teams.
"What is most evident is the incredibly short route to the grand finale for either one of the table-toppers"
What is most evident from the above graphic is the incredibly short route to the grand finale for either one of the table-toppers but also a valuable 2nd opportunity for the losing side of that Qualifier 1 fixture, something that no other sides get. It is a just reward for a team’s consistency over 22 matches of the league phase to be given a second chance and I do see the Zone A team (either Mumba or Gujarat) winning this Qualifier 1 and going through straight to the Final!
Beyond that, the 2nd placed team of Zone A faces the 3rd placed team of Zone B in Eliminator 1 followed by the vice versa in Eliminator 2. The winners Eliminator 1 & 2 will then square off in Eliminator 3, following which the winner of Eliminator 3 faces of against the loser of Qualifier 1, who has had plenty of rest waiting for this opposition in Qualifier 2. The winner of Qualifier 2 eventually takes their place in the Grand Finale vs the winner of Qualifier 1.
Why it is important to top your zone in PKL?
To sum it all up, if a team finish top of either zone, winning the title is only a matter of winning two games back to back while a team that finishes second or third in their zone must win FOUR games back-to-back to get their hands on the title.
Having said that, let’s not forget that the Patna Pirates did it the hard way just last season where they stunned the Puneri Paltan in Eliminator 3 before beating Bengal in Qualifier 2 and then eventually beating the favourites, Gujarat Fortunegiants in the Final to clinch their 3rd Pro Kabaddi title.
Dabang Delhi qualifies for the first time for play-offs in PKL6
So, having now understood the Road to the Final, let’s dive into Zone A first up and chalk out where things stand at the moment with all three playoff spots already sealed by U Mumba, Gujarat Fortunegiants and Dabang Delhi, who have qualified for the first time in the history of PKL.
U Mumba currently at the top of Zone A but have only one game left (Wild Card Match vs UP Yodha) with a maximum of 5 points to get which could take them to 90 in total. Gujarat Fortunegiants therefore will have fate in their own hands given that if they win their remaining two fixtures versus Jaipur Pink Panthers & Patna Pirates, they will finish top of the zone with 93 points. Patna Pirates meanwhile are in a battle for the playoffs in Zone B too so that Wild Card Inter Zone match on 26th December could be an absolute scorcher. Dabang Delhi meanwhile have qualified for the first time in the franchise’s history and they will remain 3rd in Zone A no matter what happens around them.
Teams fight it out for second and third places in Zone B
When we turn our attention to Zone B however, things look very different! Straight away, you can see that only Bengaluru Bulls have qualified for the playoffs and spots are well and truly up for grabs. Bengaluru look like they should make the top 3 with ease given that they have four games in hand but where they will finish and who else could join them still remains the big question.
Bengaluru Bulls have 4 games in hand but each game comes with tremendous pressure against sides vying for a spot in the playoffs too. They face the Telugu Titans on Tuesday followed by matches vs Patna, Bengal and finally Jaipur so they would ideally like to win at least 2 out of four (preferably vs Patna & Bengal) to stay top of Zone B.
Patna Pirates lost a crucial encounter on Sunday to the UP Yodha squad and that puts them in a sticky situation given that their next 3 games are up again the Bengaluru Bulls, Bengal Warriors and finally the Gujarat Fortunegiants who themselves must win every game to finish top of Zone A. The Telugu Titans have been helped out by the poor run of the Patna Pirates and suddenly find themselves in with a shot too, with 3 matches left versus the Bulls, a struggling Puneri Paltan and finally the Bengal Warriors.
The UP Yodha squad meanwhile have clung on to a mathematical hope of making it but need an early Christmas miracle with several results needing to go their way to make it through but they also take on U Mumba in their last encounter which makes this mountain harder to scale!
The Bengal Warriors finally have their entire home leg to come but it comes with tremendous pressure knowing how much each game could change their fortunes but also the fortunes of several other teams in the Zone. They would realistically need at least 3 wins from their 6 home games to see themelves through but a VERY strong home leg could even see them fighting for top spot, which is far from secure for the Bengaluru Bulls!
So there you have it…Plenty of permutations and combinations that are about to unfold over the next few days at Pro Kabaddi and means that you want to stay glued to your TV screens and get down to the stadiums if you’re in Panchkula or Calcutta to watch every minute come alive and I can’t wait to get back into the commentary box for each of these gripping encounters.
Author: Suhail Chandhok
Suhail Chandhok has been the face & voice of Pro Kabaddi & the man better known as "The Oracle" who has been courtside since Match 1 of Season 1 as a Commentator & Sports Presenter. He is also a co-founder of Kabaddi Adda