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MLP Scoring Format

Since its debut in 2021, Major League Pickleball (MLP) has provided the pickleball world with exciting, never-done-before, team-based competition with unique (and ever-changing) scoring formats. Beginning in 2021 with a single event and 8 teams, MLP has grown to 22 teams (12 premier and 10 challenger) and 11 events in 2024.

To MLP’s credit, each year experimentation has been done as it relates to scoring format. While matches have always been comprised of one men’s doubles game, a women’s doubles game, two mixed doubles games and a tie-breaker game (Dreambreaker) if needed, the scoring format has been tweaked each year.

MLP Scoring Format Thru the Years

What began for MLP as a single game to 15 (win by 1) traditional, side-out scoring format for the two gender doubles games and two mixed doubles games in 2021 has evolved to rally scoring to 25 points in 2024 with no freezes. And in between, there were games played to 21 with freezes at 20 points and 18 points.

Let’s take a look how MLP has evolved over the years from a scoring format perspective:

MLP – 2021 Season

2021 was the first year for MLP.  Eight teams participated at Dreamland in Austin, TX, from November 5-8, 2021.

MLP Scoring Format (2021)
Each game in gender doubles and mixed doubles was played to 15 points (traditional, side-out scoring, win by 1).

MLP Dreambreaker Format (2021)
If two teams were tied 2-2 after the men’s and women’s doubles games and two mixed doubles games, a singles tiebreaker game to 15 (win by 1) with modified rally scoring was played with each team swapping out singles players after every four points. Although rally scoring was used, it was required to win the final point on the serve.

MLP – 2022 Season

This was the second year for MLP. Twelve teams participated in three events: Austin, TX (June 3-5), Newport Beach, CA (August 5-7) and Columbus, OH (October 14-16). PPA-contracted players were not allowed to participate.

MLP Scoring Format (2022)
Each game in gender doubles and mixed doubles was played in rally scoring format to 21 points (win by 2). However, once a team reached 20 points, they were frozen and were required to win the final point, or any potential subsequent points, on their serve.

MLP Dreambreaker Format (2022)
If two teams were tied 2-2 after the men’s and women’s doubles games and two mixed doubles games, a singles tiebreaker game to 21 (win by 2) with modified rally scoring was played with each team swapping out singles players after every four points. In this modified format, rally scoring was played until a team reached 20 points, at which time the team reaching 20 points was subject to a freeze on rally scoring and all future points must be scored while serving.

MLP – 2023 Season

This was the third year for MLP. 2023 was divided into two “seasons” – with each season consisting of three events. In the first season, 12 teams competed in the MLP Premier Level (the first 48 drafted players) and 12 teams competed in the MLP Challenger Level (the next 48 drafted players). The teams then flipped levels and re-drafted players for the second season. After sitting out 2022, PPA-contracted players were once again permitted to participate in 2023.

MLP Scoring Format (2023)
Each game in gender and mixed doubles was played in rally scoring format to 21 points (win by 2). However, once a team reached 20 points, they were frozen and were required to win the final point, or any potential subsequent points, on their serve. If the trailing team reached 18 points, that team, too, was subject to a freeze on rally scoring and were required to win all future points while serving. If both teams were tied 19-19, then both teams were immediately frozen when the score became 20-19.

MLP Dreambreaker Format (2023)
If two teams were tied 2-2 after the men’s and women’s doubles games and two mixed doubles games, a singles tiebreaker game to 21 (win by 2) with modified rally scoring was played with each team swapping out singles players after every four points. The same rally-scoring format as the gender and mixed doubles format with with freezes at 20 and 18 points.

MLP – 2024 Season

This is the fourth year for MLP. The 2024 MLP season consists of 11 events (8 regular season events) with 12 teams competing in the MLP Premier Level and 10 teams competing in the MLP Challenger Level.

MLP Scoring Format (2024)
Each game in gender and mixed doubles is a rally scoring game to 25 points (win by 2) with no freezes.

MLP Dreambreaker Format (2024)
If two teams are deadlocked at 2-2 after the men’s and women’s doubles games and two mixed doubles games, a singles tiebreaker game to 21 (win by 2) with rally scoring (and no freezes) is played with each team swapping out singles players after every four points.

Final Thoughts

Kudos to MLP for scoring format experimentationn over the years. Rally scoring (with and without freezes) is now mainstream with many other tournaments, leagues and open play sessions adopting a variation of MLP scoring. While we can certainly argue if rally scoring or freezes at 20 or 18 points favors the underdog or artificially makes matches close, one thing is certain – you won’t know, until you try.

See you on the courts.

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Coach Todd
About Todd

Todd is the talent behind PickleballMAX. He knows pickleball and demonstrates it on the court as a 4.5 – 5.0 player. In addition to creating content and running the PickleballMAX business, Todd is IPTPA Level II certified. As an instructor at the Ohio Pickleball Academy, he instructs students and runs adult and youth clinics. He also manages tournament desks throughout the tri state for tournaments ranging from 100-500 participants.

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