Pickleball was the fastest-growing sport in the United States in 2021 and 2020, according to a recent report. The sport has 4.8 million players in the U.S. and has grown by 39.3% from 2020 to 2022. The rapid increase in interest in the sport has spawned several professional pickleball leagues. Two of the highest-profile leagues, the VIBE Pickleball League (owned by the Professional Pickleball Association) and Major League Pickleball, are now merging.


Reason for the Merger

The owners of the PPA and MLP cited several reasons for the merger. They believe that by bringing the two organizations together, they can create a stronger, more cohesive entity that is better equipped to promote and support the sport at the professional level.

They also hope that the merge will increase the visibility and accessibility of pickleball to fans and players around the world, leading to more opportunities for professional pickleball players and potentially helping to grow the sport at all levels.

The merge ends the restriction on PPA players competing in MLP tournaments. This is good news for both players and fans because now the top players can play in all of the events instead of having to choose between the two leagues.

Professional Pickleball Association

The PPA is one of two professional pickleball tours in the United States. The other is the Association of Pickleball Professionals. The PPA hosts the Professional Tour of Pickleball, which is one of the premier pickleball tours in the United States. The PPA boasts that its tour has the top professionals and offers the largest payouts in the sport.

The Professional Tour of Pickleball consists of multiple tournaments that take place in venues nationwide. The PPA broadcasts tournaments on its YouTube channel and has a deal with cable sports network ESPN to broadcast its Bubly Team Championships. The league also sometimes broadcasts events on network television and the Tennis Channel. In January 2022, Tom Dundon, the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes NHL team, purchased the PPA.

Major League Pickleball

MLP is another of the top professional pickleball leagues in the U.S. The stated mission of the league is to show the world how extraordinary pickleball is. MLP events are currently all team format competitions. The number of events the league offers will expand from three to six in 2023 and the league will be expanding from 12 to 16 teams, with several of the new teams having high-profile owners, such as Lebron James and Anheuser-Busch.

VIBE Pickleball League

Unlike MLP, most of the Professional Pickleball Association events are individual tournaments. The PPA said it would create the VIBE Pickleball League on October 28, 2022. The VIBE league was set to feature six co-ed teams, similar to the MLP, and begin play in 2023. Mark Cuban signed on to be the league’s first team owner.

The PPA Tour’s top five female and male players were to be part of the player pool for the VIBE tour. The six teams were to select players through a live draft process in December 2022. VIBE announced that it would televise matches utilizing the PPA’s relationships with ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, and Tennis Channel. There were to be four season events and two championships.

Merge Announcement

Major League Pickleball and the Professional Pickleball Association VIBE Pickleball League agreed to merge in November 2022. The new league will keep the Major League Pickleball name.

The owners of the two leagues called the move a strategic effort to unify the sport as a “global, co-ed, team-based league.” They claim the combined league will offer fans the best players, the largest events, and the most visionary owners.

The PPA will continue to operate as a separate tour from the new combined league and will have exclusive rights to singles play while MLP will have exclusive rights to the team format.

History of Team Pickleball

Team pickleball has a long and storied history within the sport. It dates back to the earliest days of pickleball, when players would form teams and compete against each other in organized tournaments and matches.

Over the years, team pickleball has evolved and grown in popularity, with more and more players and fans becoming involved in the sport.

How the Current MLP League Works

The team format makes how MLP works a bit different than the other major pickleball leagues.


Steve Kuhn, a billionaire former hedge fund manager, founded the league. He shares ownership of the league with the owners of all of the other teams in the league.


The 2022 season began with a snake draft. The owners of the 12 co-ed teams were all randomly assigned a draft order and then the draft began with the first team choosing a female player from the draft pool. That team would then get the 24th women’s pick and the eighth and ninth men’s picks.

The second team got the second and 23rd women’s picks and the seventh and 10th men’s picks and so on until all of the teams selected two women and two men each. The purpose of the snake draft was to ensure that all of the teams have an equal amount of talent so that the matches stay competitive.


The tournaments consist of a men’s and women’s doubles match and two mixed-doubles matches. If there is a tie at the end of these matches, they decide the winning team by playing a singles tiebreaker.

The tournaments work by randomly sorting the 12 teams into three pools with four teams each. Each team plays all of the other teams in its pool. The two teams with the best records from each pool move on to the next round and are seeded according to how many matches they won. The first and second seeds automatically advance to the semi-finals. The remaining seeds play single-elimination quarter-final matchups.

There were three tournaments in 2022. The first took place in Austin, Texas on June 3rd-5th. Team BLQK won that tournament.

The second event was in Newport Beach, California on August 5th-7th. The Ranchers won this tournament.

The final tournament of the season took place in Columbus, Ohio. BLQK also won this tournament.

How the New League Will Work

The new post-merge MLP will feature 24 teams. However, the league hasn’t announced whether there will be 24 teams at the start of the 2023 season or if the season will open with the previously announced 16 teams.

The 2023 season will feature six tournaments and a draft that will establish all new rosters for all of the teams. MLP has not announced the rest of the details about how the combined league will work, including

who the owners of the additional five teams will be or whether it will incorporate the planned Professional Pickleball Association VIBE tour events into the MLP schedule.

Insiders expect that the merger between the two leagues will result in a significant increase in available prize money for players and that the 2023 season will crown an overall winner, rather than just individual tournament champions. MLP had already announced a planned $2.4 million prize pool for 2023, which is more than double the amount awarded in 2022. However, with the significant resources the PPA brings to the table, the prize money could go even higher.

What the Merger Means for Pickleball Fans

The merge of the PPA and MLP has the potential to greatly impact the future of pickleball as a professional sport. By unifying under a single league, the PPA and MLP hope to increase the visibility and accessibility of pickleball to fans and players around the world. This could lead to more opportunities for professional pickleball players and potentially help to grow the sport at all levels.

For pickleball fans, this means that they will have access to more high-quality pickleball events and competitions, featuring the best players in the sport. It also means that they will be able to follow and support their favorite teams and players as they compete in the new combined league.

Overall, the merge of the PPA and MLP is a significant event for the sport of pickleball and has the potential to bring new opportunities and challenges for players and fans alike.

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