The new play offs will be staged in the magical Czech capital Prague, one of the world’s most beautiful cities and a UNESCO World Heritage site, promising unforgettable excitement for millions of equestrian fans worldwide.
The premiere of the thrilling new format for team show jumping will take place from Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th December 2018 at the dynamic O2 arena, which hosts major concerts and sports events, and will be the first indoor event on the Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League calendar.
Together with Title Partner and Official Timekeeper Longines, the Tour has continued to grow and innovate over its 12 year history, delivering world class show jumping in breathtaking destinations around the globe. The Global Champions League added a thrilling new dimension to the sport in 2016 with top riders from different countries teaming up for the first time.
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 – part of the historic prize purse for a single event in show jumping.
The pre-Christmas play offs will dramatically raise the stakes at every stage of the regular GCL team championship with even more tension building at the season final at prestigious AL SHAQAB in Doha in November. Only the 16 best teams from the 2018 season will qualify for a place at the play offs. The top four teams will automatically be fast tracked directly to the play off semi finals.
Next year the combined overall prize money for the Longines Global Champions Tour individual series, the Global Champions League regular season and the new play offs will be €35 million.
Jan Tops, Co-Founder of Global Champions League and President of Longines Global Champions Tour, said:
“Our mission is to continue innovating and growing show jumping 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 show jumping and the exciting format will attract more fans and new audiences.”
Prague, known as “the City of a hundred spires”, will stage the play offs over four days at the O2 arena with top-level sport and great entertainment for approximately 14,000 spectators. The event will take place in the run up to Christmas when the fairytale city will have a special festive atmosphere where visitors can enjoy the contrast of Prague’s historic Baroque architecture and the famous Castle and the cool modern neighbourhoods and art and design zones.
GCL has seen more leading riders and star horses join teams in 2017. 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.
Team tactics and strategic changes to riders and horses during the 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.