The 2014 Takraw Thailand League (TTL) will begin on the 15th of March, and with it we will be seeing a host of rule changes – most of which are specific to the TTL, however there is one change that may affect sepak takraw world-wide.
If you’ve been playing or following sepak takraw for a while, you’ll know that up until 2011 the game was scored to the best of three sets, with the first two sets being scored up to 21 and the final set being scored up to 15. Then, at the 2011 Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia, ISTAF introduced a new system where sets were out of 15 points each, and the best of five sets wins the match. The other big change was of course changing from a classic rally-point serving system, to the new three-serves-each rule. Well, as you may have seen at the recent South-East Asian Games in Myanmar, the scoring system has again been changed! The three-serve system remains, but after only two and a half years the five-set match is no more – we’re back to playing to the best of three sets, although this time all three sets are played up to 21 points (must win by two, to a ceiling of 25).
2) National Player Cap
Now as for the Takraw Thai League, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes! The big players in last year’s TTL were undoubtedly Bangkok Thonburi University, Kanchanaburi, and in only their second year, Ratchaburi Takraw Club. Given the ten year history of the TTL, it is pretty amazing that the new kid on the block, Ratchaburi TC, managed to sweep all the established clubs before them to take out the championship – Ratchaburi won 17 of their 18 matches, compared to 14 for Bangkok and 13 for Kanchanaburi. But then, it’s not hard to see how these teams came out on top. Of the 18 players on the Thai national squad that was selected for the 2013 King’s Cup and 2013 SEA Games, 5 played for Ratchaburi, 7 played for Bangkok, and, well only 2 played for Kanchanaburi but that includes Siriwat Sakha! So it seemed that the clubs that could entice national level players would inevitably dominate the competition again and again. So, the big change for the 2014 TTL season? We’re seeing a limit on the number of national players each team is allowed. Of the 12 players from the Thai national team that played at King’s Cup 2013, only two can play for any given team, and only one of those can be a server.
3) League Points
The other change we’re seeing is not as dramatic, but it’s still going to be important come the end of the season. TTL is run in the team event format, where the best of three regus determines the winner. Previously, the winning team would be awarded two championship points, and the losing team would go home empty handed. But as of now, for each regu victory the team earns a championship point – so for a 2-1 win, the winning team gets two points, the losing team one point. For a 3-0 win, the winning team gets three points, the losing team gets nothing. It will be interesting to see how teams will approach this new scoring change, since no longer do you just have to win two regus to get the championship points, each regu is just as important as the others. Will teams be spreading their talent across all three regus in an attempt to gain maximum points? Or will they hedge their bets and put their best players on together to make sure they win at least one?