Today marks an auspicious day in the history of Pickleball.
Today. Is. Draft. Day.
Major League Pickleball has set the stage for what could turn out to be one of the most entertaining annual events in the pickleball season.
The combination of celebrity team owners, a new league format, and some of the most talented athletes in the sport’s history is sure to excite the pickleball community. And it’s all televised live on The Tennis Channel.
But first, let’s look at the format of the draft.
MLP Draft Explained
In 2023, MLP will consist of two levels, Premier and Challenger. The televised draft will be for the Premier level, with the Challenger draft occurring the days after and draft picks announced on social media. It’s unclear now whether the Challenger draft has any additional rules.
Akin to fantasy football, the MLP draft will be a snake format. A snake draft means the 12 MLP teams will draft in order, randomly selected by the commissioner, with teams 1-12 drafting in consecutive order in the first and third rounds and teams 12-1 consecutively in rounds two and four.
Two women and two men will be chosen for each team’s roster.
Team Composition and Draft Strategy
The draft strategy will be interesting to watch and undoubtedly lead to many debates post-draft.
With no set order of when to draft a female or male team member, owners will need to consider things like available talent, talent level, style of play, partner history, team dynamics, and even leaving players undrafted for competitor teams to pick up.
In other words, it’s not necessarily about having the four best players, but having the four best players that can be a cohesive team.
Matches will consist of Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed formats, and individual scores will be combined to determine a team’s overall score.
2 Levels – 2 Seasons – 2 Drafts
Something very interesting about how MLP is establishing its league is that there will be two “MLP seasons” within one calendar year, with each session comprising three events.
Further, the deck will be shuffled when teams are redrafted in July for the second season of play. This will create an exciting dynamic as ascending players get more opportunities to advance quickly and play with stronger competition.
What does this mean for everyone who can’t get enough pickleball?
We will see both exciting individual and team play in a format unique to American sports. The two-tiered levels and multi-season years will allow various outcomes as we root for our favorite players, teams, and owners.
How To Watch The Draft
- Thursday, December 15th, 2022, at 9 p.m. EST
- The Tennis Channel – 9 p.m. ET
- Mandalay Bay Convention Center
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