The New Year celebrations are only just dying down – but already there’s a whole host of exciting badminton action for fans to sink their teeth into.
For the third season in succession, the calendar year has gotten underway in gusto with the Premier Badminton League in full swing, thrusting the world’s best players together for three action-packed weeks across India.
With eight franchises competing, there’s no shortage of top stars on display with each team bidding to follow in the footsteps of defending champions Chennai Smashers, proudly holding aloft the trophy last year.
And with the round-robin stage already soaring into action, here’s the best of what’s happened so far.
How it works
The eight teams will play five ties across the competition, each featuring five matches – men’s and women’s singles, men’s, women’s and mixed doubles.
Victory in a match will see the team earn a point, while they will also have the chance to nominate a trump match, where a win will see them accrue two points.
However, losing their chosen trump match will lead to a point being taken away from their tally, meaning a team can finish a tie with negative points.
At the end of the round-robin stage, the four teams with the most amount of points – based on regular and trump match victories – will go into the semi-finals.
Champion start for Boe and Bengaluru
The old master shows no signs of slowing down.
At 37, even Mathias Boe is in the twilight of his career but the old dog still has plenty of tricks to offer – as shown with his super start with the Bengaluru Blasters.
Victorious in their first two ties, the Blasters have been the team to look out for so far, with 2011 and 2015 YONEX All England champion Boe starring alongside Kim Sa-rang.
But the Norwegian is not the only superstar in the Bengaluru ranks, with Viktor Axelsen leading the charge.
The Dane had nothing short of a masterful 2017 after becoming world champion for the first time, embracing the challenge as world No.1 following a year to remember.
Home heroes make early running
Few fans get behind their team quite like the Indian support, so to have two of their leading names atop the standings will have them very pleased indeed.
That’s where both Saina Nehwal and Srikanth Kidambi find themselves, with their Awadhe Warriors making the early running with 12 points to their name.
A YONEX All England quarter-finalist in each of the past seven years, Nehwal is aptly leading the charge so far, with a big clash to come against the Mumbai Rockets on Thursday.
But the talent doesn’t stop there, with Hendra Setiawan – champion in Birmingham in 2014 – part of their ranks, as is Danish superstar and double Olympic medallist Christinna Pedersen.
Defending champions Chennai with work to do
They may be the current holders of the Premier Badminton League trophy, but the Chennai Smashers have some work to do if they are to repeat the trick 12 months later.
Only seven points have come their way so far in their bid for the next stage, though if there’s one thing we know about the Smashers, they have the squad to pull it out of the bag.
That is headlined by England’s Chris and Gabby Adcock, European champions and world bronze medallists in 2017, as well as YONEX All England semi-finalists.
But they’re not the only big names on the roster with PV Sindhu looking to star in front of her home support when it matters most for Chennai.
And there is also the small matter of Brice Leverdez, the man who stunned the badminton world in 2017 when defeating Lee Chong Wei in the TOTAL BWF World Championships.