Major League Pickleball (MLP) is the premier team league and the standard-bearer for the fastest-growing sport in the United States. MLP is committed to perpetuating the sport's larger role in society and permeating every facet of pickleball’s business, marketing, and community relations. With iconic team owners, a co-ed team format, an innovative draft, easy to understand scoring, groundbreaking broadcast quality, and the highest prize money events in pro pickleball, MLP’s goal is to elevate and grow the sport in everything it does.
For the 2023 season, MLP is doubling down on our one-of-a-kind gameplay format by expanding the league to 24 teams and launching MLP Premier Level and MLP Challenger Level.
Premier Level is home to the top 48 players drafted while Challenger Level boasts the next crop of 48 draftees looking to make their ascension to the top of the league. The creation of 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.
The year will be divided into two “seasons” of three events – in the first season, 12 teams will compete in the MLP Premier Level (the first 48 drafted players) and 12 will compete in the MLP Challenger Level (the next 48 drafted players), with rosters consisting of two men and two women. The teams will then flip levels and re-draft players for the second season. With the expansion to 24 teams, MLP is offering up to $5 million in prize money and payouts to its players in 2023.
Results for the 2023 year across both seasons and Levels will place the Top 12 performing teams into the higher-tier MLP Premier Level and the Bottom 12 performing teams into the up-and-comer MLP Challenger Level for 2024, with a promotion and relegation system in place to allow for team mobility.
MLP Premier Level is home to the top 48 most in-demand team players in all of pro pickleball. Players with a dizzying track record of bombastic wins on the court and a DUPR Rating to match. These twelve coveted co-ed teams of four represent the gold standard for the sport and the pinnacle of competition. And while for Premier players it’s hard-fought to get here, it’s even harder fought to stay with the next crop of Challenger Level competitors cooking in the kitchen looking to take their place!
MLP Challenger Level is home to pro pickleball’s next wave of 48 up-and-coming top talents of tomorrow who get the chance to light up the courts and crush all expectations as they compete within this division of twelve teams. For some, this is their first chance to compete on the big MLP stage while for other seasoned courtside competitors this is their runway to level up to Premier. For the fans, this is an opportunity to thrill in the unpredictable and witness legends in the making!
Each MLP Team is made up of four (4) players consisting of two (2) women and two (2) men. Teams compete against each other in Group Stage Matches to start each tournament. A Match consists of four Games to 21 (win by 2) with rally scoring, starting with one women’s doubles Game, followed by one men’s doubles Game, and then two mixed doubles Games. If two teams are tied after these four games, an innovative tiebreaker known as the “DreamBreaker” is played, with a rotational system involving all four players. If after Mixed Doubles Game 1, the match score is 3-0, the Match is over, and the 4th Game will not be played. This applies to both group play and the single elimination bracket.
Players will change ends when one team reaches the score of 11. Rally scoring will be played until a team reaches 20, at which time the team reaching 20 is subject to a freeze on rally scoring and must score all future points while serving. If the trailing team reaches 18, that team too will be subject to a freeze on rally scoring and must score all future points while serving. If both teams are tied 19-19, then both teams are immediately frozen when it becomes 20-19. All Games must be won by 2 points.
After the round-robin Group Stage that consists of three groups of four teams, the top two teams from each group square off in a single-elimination format starting with the Quarterfinals, then to the Semifinals, and Finals.