- The number of teams increased from 12 to 24.
- The number of events increases from 3 to 6.
- $5 Million in prize money and payouts.
After merging with the Professional Pickleball Association’s VIBE league last month, Major League Pickleball is showing little sign of slowing down.
Expansion of the league is inevitable as interest and money continue to flow into the sport.
2023 will see a 2X in the league’s size, with the number of teams increasing to 24 (from 12) and the number of events increasing to 6 (from 3).
The year will also be split into 2 “seasons” and 2 “levels”.
In short, 12 teams (48 drafted players) will compete in the Premier Level, and 12 (additional 48 players) will compete in the Challenger Level. After the first “season” of 3 tournaments, the teams will flip levels and re-draft.
Then, in 2024, the 12 best teams from 2023 will start in the Premier Level, with the remaining 12 starting in the Challenger Level.
2023 Major League Pickleball Schedule
With six total tournament stops in 2023, Major League Pickleball will set up shop at some of the top pickleball facilities and resorts across the country.
Here are the tournament stops for 2023;
- January 26-29: Legacy Sports USA in Mesa, Arizona
- March 23-26: Pictona at Holy Hill in Daytona Beach, Florida
- June 15-18: Life Time in San Clemente, California – Championship match held Monday, June 19
Teams will then flip levels and re-draft.
- September 21-24: Life Time in Peachtree Corners, Georgia
- November 2-5: La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, California
- December 7-10: Life Time in San Clemente, California – Championship match held Monday, December 11.
2023 MLP Draft
Major League Pickleball has been recruiting top players to apply to the 2023 Draft, which will be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, on December 15th, 2022.
Airing on the Tennis Channel at 9 p.m. EST, fans and players alike can watch as team owners select Premier Players for the first season. Challenger Level selections will be announced in the following days on MLP social channels.
The second season draft will be held in early July, where the teams compete at the opposite MLP level.
Here’s a list of the pros officially announced as 2023 draft prospects;
- Sarah Ansboury
- Julian Arnold
- Dekel Bar
- Susannah Barr
- Maggie Brascia
- Mary Brascia
- Anna Bright
- Wesley Burrows
- Andrei Daescu
- Vivienne David
- Daniel De La Rosa
- Michelle Esquivel
- Regina Franco
- Megan Fudge
- Cierra Gaytan-Leach
- Rafa Hewett
- James Ignatowich
- Simone Jardim
- Hunter Johnson
- Jorja Johnson
- JW Johnson
- Jackie Kawamoto
- Jade Kawamoto
- AJ Koller
- Adrea Koop
- Callie Smith
- Erik Lange
- AJ Koller
- Olivia McMillan
- Rachel Rettger
- Zane Navratil
- Callan Dawson
- Ben Newell
- Rob Nunnery
- Lina Padegimaite
- Maggie Remynse
- Lea Jansen
- Travis Rettenmaier
- Lacy Schneemann
- Federico Staksrud
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Setting Things Up For 2024
The stakes are even higher for the players and teams in 2023, as the results across both 2023 seasons and at both MLP Levels will place the Top 12 performing teams into the higher tier for 2024.
A promotion and relegation system similar to soccer leagues will push teams up or down the MLP Levels based on that year’s performance.
MLP President and Commissioner, Brooks Wiley, says;
“The division into the MLP Premier Level and MLP Challenger Level will ensure the highest caliber of competition while providing a pathway and opportunities for the next generation of pro pickleball stars to break through. Next year will be an exciting year of team competition that will set MLP up for long-term success with this strategic format.”
Significant Increase In Prize Money & Player Payouts
This investment in the sport and its players is a fantastic sign of what’s still to come in the professional era of pickleball.
MLP Founder, Steve Kuhn, reiterated that point, stating;
“…we want to make sure the professional players also see growth in prize money. It’s important for these players to be able to make a living playing pickleball and we will support them in every way possible. From the amazing player services we offer at all our events, to promoting players and their platforms, to offering the highest prize money events in pro pickleball, MLP is committed to elevating the sport.”
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