Global Poker League Coming into Greater Focus in China, India
The Global Poker League finished up its first season last year when the Montreal Nationals topped the Berlin Bears and collected a $100,000 prize.
Since then, the budding league has appeared to abruptly shift gears. Rather than roll over into the second year of the league and continue to try to build things up under the vision CEO Alex Dreyfus originally laid out — a worldwide esports clone played both live and online in front of thousands of fans — the GPL has appeared to focus on start-ups in untapped, potential-laden markets.
First, there came the announcement of GPL China, followed by the reveal of a similar concept in GPL India. In these less mature, massive markets, GPL decision-makers see a chance to target a rapidly growing poker scene at the grassroots level and connect with poker fans and esports fans who are already used to consuming content via streaming mediums like Twitch.
More news has continued to hit the wire about GPL China and GPL India in recent weeks. PokerNews delved into the recent developments to sum up how both leagues have continued to progress.
Back in early August, GPL China began coming into greater focus, transitioning from merely a concept into a reality as the rosters of four teams — Beijing Great Dragons, Tianjin Guardians, Shanghai Golden Tigers and Hangzhou Legends — were revealed. A fifth team, the Taiwan Black Bears, had also solidified its roster but the names of the players weren't immediately available.
Since then, teams have continued to qualify through the league's grassroots qualifying system. Players showed up to local events for satellites of sorts, and four more teams have battled their way into GPL China. The Xi'an Warriors, Chengdu Pandas, Kunming Phoenix, and Hong Kong Treasure Ships have all filled out their rosters.
Who exactly these players are remains an unanswered question.
In a recent release, the GPL claimed to be "in its home stretch" of the preseason and promised more info on rosters and pertinent league dates would be released "soon."
In the mean time, they've released this video featuring highlights of the most recent qualifying process:
GPL India remains a bit behind its Chinese sister league in terms of hard info, but some details have still begun emerging about the nascent enterprise.
Most interestingly, Dreyfus and Co. have brought on perhaps the world's most recognizable Indian poker player, Nipun Java, on board as an ambassador. Java has been absolutely on fire in the past year or so, putting up some monster results on the felt. He became India's first World Series of Poker bracelet winner this past summer in the $1,000 Tag Team but wasn't satisfied with one piece of gold as he added another in the $1,000 Online Championship.
Java then followed that up by conquering a massive field in the recent Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open to win the opening event for over $230,000. Overall, he's already banked nearly $500,000 this year.
Now, he's set to be an international ambassador and caster for the six-team league, Dreyfus recently announced on Twitter.
Here's a look at the franchises announced for the league's first season:
- Delhi Diehards
- Mumbai Jetsetters
- Bengaluru Hackers
- Chennai Sharks
- Kolkata Creators
- Ahmedabad Alphas
Muskan Sethi and Vidwath Shetty have been announced as managers of the Diehards and Hackers, respectively.
The league will apparently feature a similar qualifying system to GPL China, where live satellites give players in each region a chance to win their way onto GPL rosters. PokerGuru reported that GPL India has targeted a first quarter 2018 launch.
Future of GPL Still Murky
Interestingly, the GPL's release outlining information and goals of GPL India mentions future tie-ins to both GPL China and the worldwide GPL league that played out its first season in 2016.
"GPL India will not exist in a vacuum," the release states. "The winner’s of the league’s first season will be invited to compete against the toughest GPL teams from around the world in the GPL association’s overarching World Championships."
Does that mean Season 2 of the GPL is forthcoming as well?
Information has been quiet on that front, with little announced about Season 2 of the GPL since the close of Season 1. Under the original contracts players signed, they were on the hook for two seasons, but most of the Season 1 schedule had been played through by this time last year.
UPDATE: Dreyfus offered the following comment to PokerNews on Monday:
"After a draining Season 1, with 400 hours of broadcast, 180 matches to organize over nine months in two continents, we decided to revamp our GPL Season 2 approach. We learnt a lot in the first season and we are still learning from our China and India experience. We didn't want to come back after two months, with the exact same concept. We believe we need to change, adapt and embrace more innovation. It take time. GPL Is a long term project and we are not in a hurry to lose money. In order to prepare Season 2, we just finished our new TV studio in Malta and gonna start to release more and more information in the next few weeks."
Photo courtesy of GPL