The 2019 PBA Tour season starts this week with more optimism from more places than any season in recent memory.
Here are six reasons this may be the best season in PBA history:
1. FloBowling begins its first full season
With coverage of every round leading up to the TV shows, including pick-a-pair options whenever possible, PBA fans get the most complete coverage in history.
FloBowling took over the PBA’s live streaming on June 30 and 2019 will be its first crack at a full PBA Tour season.
2. FOX takes over the TV shows
This isn’t necessarily about FOX being better than ESPN, but the fact FOX is new to and, apparently, passionate about the PBA means they’re going to try new things.
They’ve “FOX-ified” every sport they’ve taken on and give life to all the sports they touch. Even the universally panned glowing puck from their NHL days shows they’re willing to innovate.
If you don’t have FOX or FS1, don’t worry: the telecasts will all be available in the FloBowling archives as well seven days after each shows air. Also, for those international bowling fans, FloBowling will stream all the finals live for those outside the United States.
3. PBA League will get younger
The PBA League is already one of the highlights of the PBA season, but it’ll be even better in 2019. There will be more roster turnover this year than any previous season. The big story last year was the snub of Andrew Anderson, who of course went on to win the PBA Player of the Year Award, and he will undoubtedly be drafted (probably first).
There will be snubs this year, too. That’s the nature of professional sports. However, the bigger story this year will most likely involve how much younger the PBA League is going to get. That is, younger players replacing older players. That, combined with other younger players replacing different younger players, will lead to PBA League rosters that look quite a bit different than the past few seasons.
4. PBA Playoffs adds more drama
The PBA has done playoff-like events before, occasionally even calling them playoffs, but it’s never been done this way: the top 24 players, based on all the events leading up to it, qualify for the PBA Playoffs, which will pit the players one-on-one, in a bracket format, until one player reigns victorious and earns the $100,000 top prize.
Without the burden of qualifying (it will all have taken place over the course of the first several events, so it feels like there’s no qualifying even if there technically is), we skip right to the excitement of head-to-head sporting competition. The players will care and the players will compete. Being in Portland, Maine, the fans will be rabid.
Plus, the players’ desire to qualify for the PBA Playoffs will enhance the quality of all the previous events as well. Driven to qualify for the prestige and the payday, competition in every event that goes toward playoff qualification is going to be elevated.
5. February might be epic
There’s no better time to be a bowling fan than February. Four consecutive weeks of nearly non-stop coverage on FloBowling, only resting to get from one venue to the next. Four consecutive weeks of live television. Four consecutive Sundays in which a player has a chance to earn a million dollars.
The Tournament of Champions, Players Championship, Indianapolis Open and Jonesboro Open should see some of the most spirited bowling by the entire field that we’ve seen in a long time.
After February, it’s only a quick break before we’re right back at it with the World Series of Bowling X and then the United States Bowling Congress Masters.
6. Summer Tour vastly improved
Each of the past few years, the PBA has run a summer tour exclusive to livestreaming, and in most of those years, there was a bonus prize fund to the players who performed the best over the entire summer tour.
This year, everything about it is better:
- The bonus prize fund, called the USBC Cup, is bigger at $40,000.
- The summer tour is run week after week, beginning July 26 and ending Aug. 31, with a total of eight PBA Tour titles on the line.
- The proximity and timing of the events, plus the prize money, may make it more enticing to players outside North America, who for the most part have not competed in the recent summer tours that have been predominantly scattered in location and timing. If people are crossing oceans to bowl, the competition is better and the events are better.
- Plus, the PBA recently announced the top eight players in the summer tour points list will qualify for the PBA China Tiger Cup.
For an entity that’s been around for 61 years and showcasing Don Johnson’s 299 for 48 of them, it’s not easy to predict any season can suddenly top all the others.
Regardless, for these six reasons and definitely more, 2019 is a legitimate contender to do just that.