The latest entrant to the increasing number of sports leagues in India is Cue Slam, the Indian Cue Masters League. Launched by the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India with Sportzlive Entertainment being the organisers, the league is aimed at popularising cue sports by bringing it to television.

The first edition of the Indian Cue Masters will feature 25 of the top players in the sports, both Indian and international, divided across five teams. The teams were picked during a players’ draft and announced on Tuesday. The league will be held in Ahmedabad from August 19-25 and the matches will be broadcast live on Sony ESPN during primetime in the evening.

In keeping with the city-based teams, the five franchises are called Delhi Dons, Chennai Strikers, Gujarat Kings, Bengaluru Buddies and Hyderabad Hustlers. So far only three owners have been mentioned: Padmanabh Sports for Gujarat Kings, VPVS Sports Pvt Ltd for Chennai Strikers and Axis Clinicals for Hyderabad Hustlers.

The Cue Slam logo. Image Credit: Facebook

Each team will have five players – one icon player, one female player, three male players, with a minimum of three Indians in each team.

The star attraction, for Indian audience at least, will be 16-time World Snooker and Billiard Champion Pankaj Advani. Vidya Pillai, the Asian Women’s Snooker Champion Bronze Medalist, will team up with Advani for the Chennai Strikers, making it a power-packed unit. Other top names include Welsh player Darren Morgen who will play for Hyderabad Hustlers, as well as Brijesh Damani, Sourav Kothari and Alok Kumar for Gujarat Kings.

The format for Cue Slam is also different from the traditional one. It will be played on a round robin cum knock-out format with each tie having five matches with three 6 Red snooker and two 9 Ball pool matches per tie.

Advani, the long-standing flag-bearer for Indian cue sports, backed the league to make the sport popular in India. “India has many highly talented players but they haven’t had the platform to showcase their skills till now. A format like this will excite the fans and I see it becoming a very popular sport very soon,” he said at the launch.

Teams and players

Gujarat Kings: Andrew Pigget (Icon), Daria Sirotina, Alok Kumar, Sourav Kothari, Brijesh Damani. Coach: Ashok Shandilya.

Chennai Strikers: Pankaj Advani (Icon), Vidya Pillai, Dharminder Lilly, Faisal Khan, E. Pandurangaiah. Coach: G. Kishore Khurana.

Hyderabad Hustlers: Amir Sarkhosh (Icon), Amee Kamani, Kamal Chawla, Lucky Vatnani, Anuj Uppal. Coach: Manoj Kothari.

Bengaluru Buddies: Darren Morgan (Icon), Anastasia Nechaeva, Sundeep Gulati, Varun Madan, Laxman Rawat. Coach: Derek Sippy.

Delhi Dons: Kelly Fisher (Icon), Laura Evans, Pushpender Singh, Manan Chandra, Malkeet Singh. Coach: Tanuj Kohli.