The Global Champions League (GCL) is introducing “spectacular” team play-offs to end the 2018 season – with €10m (£8.96m) prize money on offer.
Riders will head to Czech capital Prague in December 2018 for four days of competition in what will be the first indoor event in the Longines GCL and Global Champions Tour (GCT) calendar.
A spokesman for the GCL said introducing the play-offs will mean “dramatically raising the stakes at every stage of the regular GCL team championship, with even more tension building at the season final in Doha in November”.
He added: “The introduction of the play-offs in 2018 will see a roller-coaster of eliminations, upsets and glory as teams battle through the quarter-final, semi-final and final stages with the winning team alone taking home €3 million.”
The best 16 teams from the 2018 season will qualify for the play-offs, while the top four will be “fast-tracked” to the play-off semi-finals.
GCL co-founder and GCT president Jan Tops said: “Our mission is to continue innovating and growing showjumping towards an ever more healthy and sustainable future like other sports in the modern era.
“That is what we have been about from the beginning to make sure the sport keeps moving ahead in the interests of riders, fans, owners, sponsors and media. Along with the strengths of the Longines Global Champions Tour and the regular GCL team circuit, the new league play-offs will be unique in showjumping and the exciting format will attract more fans and new audiences.”
The overall combined prize money for the GCT, the GCL and the new play-offs next season will be €35 million (£31.3m).
“GCL has seen more leading riders and star horses join teams in 2017,” the spokesman added. “Teams include under-25 riders as part of the strong focus on the development of young talent and future stars. The line-up for the third season of the GCL will also include the new home city Prague Lions team.
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“Team tactics and strategic changes to riders and horses during 2017 GCL competitions have already added fresh energy to the sport. The easy-to-follow new play-offs will produce more entertaining stats and graphics for fans with expert commentary for digital viewers and new technical innovations to enhance the fan experience.”
Further details will be announced soon, including information on the 2018 season.
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