The fifth season of the Pro Kabaddi League, which will be the longest ever, will have a change in format, with the 12 teams divided in two zones of six each.

The two zones have been created on the basis of geographical proximity of the 12 franchises, which are spread across 12 host cities and 11 states. This “gives rise to more frequent clashes between teams [from the same region] and creates exciting rivalries”, PKL said in a press release.

Zone A includes Dabang Delhi, Jaipur Pink Panthers, Puneri Paltan, U Mumba, Haryana Steelers and Gujarat Fortunegiants. Zone B has Telugu Titans, Bengaluru Bulls, Patna Pirates, Bengal Warriors, UP Yoddha, and Tamil Thalaivas.

Each team will place three times against the other teams in its zone, which is a total of 15 intra-zone matches. Each team will also play once against every team from the opposite zone, and one additional match selected by a random mid-season draw in the penultimate week. That makes it a total of 22 matches per team in the season, prior to the “Super Playoffs”.

The top three teams from each zone will qualify for the Super Playoffs. The top team from each zone will get an extra chance to qualify for the final, which is quite similar to the format of the Indian Premier League. There will be three qualifiers and two eliminators in the Super Playoffs, which will take place in Mumbai and Chennai.

The fifth season of PKL begins on July 28 in Hyderabad and will go on for 13 weeks, with the final scheduled for October 28 in Chennai.