The player auction for season 6 of the Pro Kabaddi League introduced a couple of interesting and important changes to the process. These changes are a) the ability to retain players even prior to the auction, and b) the ability to retain players after the bidding is done by paying the same amounts for them. Let’s understand these two in detail first.
Prior to the auction, the teams were given an option of retaining up to four ‘Elite Players’ from the previous season’s team and up to three New Young Players (NYPs) from the previous teams. The cost for retaining a player was a 10% increment on the player’s previous season’s auction amount. For example, Bengal Warriors had purchased Surjeet Singh for INR 73 lakhs in the previous auction. They chose to retain him for INR 80.3 lakhs (10% extra on 73 lakhs). For NYPs, the previous season auction amount was 6 lakhs. Hence, they could be retained at 6.6 lakhs. The idea of retaining players is important to franchise sports. This allows the teams to maintain a similar core of players across the seasons and lets the fans establish a connection with the teams through these players. The teams also have incentives in the process. They can continue to retain their cheap buys from the previous season at a cheap price (for e.g. the runners up Gujarat Fortunegiants retained Sachin for just INR 39.6 lakhs) and use the auction to build a squad around those players. Of course, there are branding and merchandising advantages as well.
Final Bid Match
Teams were allowed up to two Final Bid Match (FBM) cards for the auction. Teams which had retained 4 ‘Elite Players’ had 1 FBM card while teams retaining less than 4 elite players had 2 FBM cards. Each FBM card allowed the teams to wait till the bidding for a player (who was previously on their team) was complete and then buy him back at the final price. 1 FBM card would allow the teams to do that once. Just like retained players, the FBM allowed teams to retain their core players.
When should a team retain a player and when should they use the FBM?
Since a player auction is a battleground where all teams fight to create the best team within a limited budget, the answer to this question lies in assessing the economics of the situation. In deciding which players to retain, the teams should ask themselves two questions:
- Do I want this player in my team?
- Is the retained cost of this player significantly lower than the expected auction cost of this player?
If the answer to these two questions is yes, the team should try to retain that player. Of course, there is no sure way to come up with the expected auction cost of a player. But decent assumptions can be made to get to a range.
FBM should be used for a player who can fulfil one of the pending requirements for the team (at that stage of the auction) and if he’s available at a cost that is lower than the expected cost of a competing player in that role.
All in all, the idea is to get a good player at a bargain. Knowing that the use of the FBM on a player would imply that the team was happy with the player’s performance, let us assess some of the major Final Bid Match buys in this lens.
Mahender Singh (Bengaluru Bulls, Left Cover, INR 40 Lakhs)
Bengaluru Bulls had bought Mahender for INR 20 Lakhs last season. In the previous season, the 22 year old emerged as one of the best covers available in the game with an average 5.1 tackles and 2.7 points every game. One could easily expect him to be one of the costliest covers in the auction. They could have retained him for INR 22 Lakhs. They chose to retain only Rohit Kumar.
Surender Nada (Haryana Steelers, Left Corner, INR 75 Lakhs)
The Steelers retained Kuldeep Singh alone. They would have known that if Surender Nada was part of the auction pool, he would be the costliest Indian defender ever. They could have retained him for less than INR 57 Lakhs but they chose not to. They ended up buying him for INR 75 Lakhs
Darshan J (Tamil Thalaivas, Right Cover, INR 28 Lakhs)
The 20 year old had suddenly come to light last season through the weight of his performances. He averaged 2 points and 4.5 tackle every game. He could have been retained for 8.6 lakhs. Given that the Thalaivas retained Ajay Thakur, Amit Hooda and C Arun in their side, one can understand that they might have preferred an extra FBM card during the auction
Rahul Chaudhari (Telugu Titans, Raider, INR 1.29 Cr)
Retaining Rahul Chaudhari for ~INR 60 Lakhs would be a no-brainer. Just like Surender Nada was expected to be the highest earning defender, Rahul was expected to be the highest earning player (unless Pardeep was up for auction). But before classifying this as a bad move, let us analyse the situation in which the FBM card was used.
Telugu Titans would have decided to switch to a different main raider since Rahul had represented them for the first 5 seasons without much success. They tried to purchase a main raider for their team during the auction. Before Rahul went under the hammer, the Titans had placed jaw-dropping bids for Deepak Niwas Hooda, Nitin Tomar as well as Rishank Devadiga but were unable to land any of the players in their team. Only two “A” category raiders were left after Rahul. With Delhi and Haryana having a purse advantage over the Titans, Titans would not have wanted to let go of the opportunity to get a serious raider in their ranks. Hence, they used the FBM for Rahul. We say, smart situational move
Rishank Devadiga (UP Yoddha, Raider, INR 1.11 Cr)
Rishank had scored 8.1 points a game for the Yoddhas last season. Post that, he led the Maharashtra team to a victory in the Senior National Kabaddi Championships with a supreme performance. The Yoddhas could have retained him for ~INR 50 Lakhs. Not retaining him proved 60 Lakhs too costly to the team
Jang Kun Lee (Bengal Warriors, Raider, INR 33 Lakh)
Jang Kun Lee was a very smart buy. Had the Warriors decided to retain him, he would have taken almost INR 90 Lakhs from their purse. The used the FBM to get him back for just INR 33 Lakhs.
Farhad Milaghardan (Telugu Titans, Right Cover, INR 21.5 Lakhs)
Predicting the prices of overseas players is a tough task. Farhad could have been retained for INR 33 Lakhs. The Titans used the FBM to buy him back for INR 21.5 Lakhs. That’s another example of good business.
Ran Singh (Bengal Warriors, All-Rounder, INR 43 Lakhs)
Ran Singh is a 31 year old Left Corner who is also a handy right raider. The Warriors could have retained him for INR 52 Lakhs. They used the FBM card to buy him back at INR 43 Lakhs. That’s why we believe the Warriors had one of the best auctions of all teams.
There might have been other reasons (discipline issues, unwilling players, etc.) for not retaining players which we would not be aware of. But still, some of the moves were baffling choices
Article by our Head of Sports Analytics – Vibhor Agarwal