Bengaluru, Aug 6: Bengaluru shuttler Mithun Manjunath, who stunned former World Champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore a few days back at the Australian Open, emerged as the top buy in the players’ auction for the Season 2 of Grand Prix Badminton League (GPBL) held here.
The 25-year-old was acquired by the Chennai Superstarz for a staggering 14.5 lakh after a bidding war with Bengaluru Tigers in the auction conducted late on Saturday evening. Mithun whose had a base price of Rs 8 lakh was in the icon category.
The much-anticipated season 2 of GPBL will be held from August 27 to September 9 in Bengaluru. As many as 15 international players were drafted after the teams were given the option of choosing not more than two international players.
Shin Baek Cheol was the second-highest buy with Bengaluru Tigers acquiring the Republic of Korea shuttler for an impressive 14 lakh. India’s BWF World Championships bronze medal winner Sai Praneeth was bought by Northeast Rhinos for Rs 10 lakh. The fifth highest buy was Polina Buhrova of Ukraine, who was drafted by Mumbai Wolves for Rs 9 lakh.
The draft saw 80 talented players selected out of a roster of 150 to represent eight franchises in the upcoming season. A total of over 500 players had registered for the auction.
Each of the eight teams -- Bengaluru Tigers, Hyderabad Hounds, Chennai Superstarz, Gujarat Lions, Kerala Tuskers, Mumbai Wolves, Pune Panthers, and Northeast Rhinos -- has a player purse of Rs 35 lakh to craft their dream teams. Each team consists of an icon player, a minimum of two Tier-1 players, a minimum of two Tier-2 players and a minimum of two women players with an option to choose not more than two international players.
"We adopted a ‘maximum of two international players per team’ rule because we wanted to give more Indian players to be a part of GPBL,” said Prashanth Reddy, Commissioner, GPBL.
“We are thrilled with the outcome of the player draft. The enthusiasm displayed by the teams and fans alike showcases badminton's immense popularity and growth as a sport. We look forward to witnessing incredible matches and fierce competition among the league's top talents," he was quoted as saying in a release on Sunday.
GPBL became the first league in the country to guarantee a minimum pay for the players included in the final auction roster, benefitting 70-odd players who missed out on getting picked by any of the teams.
“Considering the talent, the teams have strategically formed their quads. All the teams have a balanced side, however considering the explosive format that we have adopted for the League, any team can win on a given day,” opined Arvind Bhat, League Director.