Hyderabad Hunters will take on Chennai Smashers in the opening clash on January 1 followed by defending champions Delhi Acers facing Bengaluru Blasters. The tournament will move to Mumbai, Lucknow, and Bengaluru next for most of the league stage fixtures with Delhi hosting the semis and the final.
Technically this is the third edition of the tournament, although it was known as the Indian Badminton League when it started in 2013. Delhi Acers defeated Mumbai Rockets in the final 4-3 in the last edition to win the tournament in 2016, and they are the favorites for the title once again this time around.
The tournament will be played across five cities with the first leg of the event being hosted by Hyderabad from January 1 to January 2. Mumbai will host three matches between January 3 and January 4, while Lucknow will host a couple of games on January 5 and January 6. Interestingly, most of the league stage games have been given to Bengaluru where the tournament will be played between January 7-11.
Delhi will host the last group-stage fixture between Delhi Acers and Hyderabad Hunters on January 12, before hosting the two semi-finals on January 13, and the mega final on January 14.
Like the last season, six teams will be participating in the event - Awadhe Warriors, Bengaluru Blasters, Chennai Smashers, Delhi Acers, Hyderabad Hunters, and Mumbai Rockets. Saina Nehwal has been retained by the Awadhe Warriors for Rs 33 lakhs after remaining unsold in the first round of auction. Olympic gold medalist Carolina Marin received the highest fee of Rs 61.5 lakhs from the Hyderabad Hunters, while PV Sindhu, who lost to Marin in the final of the Olympics, being retained for Rs 39 lakhs by the Chennai Smashers. Among the Indians, Kidambi Srikanth fetched the highest fee of Rs 51 lakhs from the Awadhe Warriors.