As the newly launched Handball Unified League H League kicks off, other teams are taking aim at Doosan, the ‘0 favorite’ to win the men’s title.
On the 1st, the media day for the Shinhan SOL Pay 2023-2024 Handball H League was held at Lotte Hotel World in Songpa-gu, Seoul.
The H-League replaces the former SK Korea League. The six men’s and eight women’s teams from the Korea League will continue to compete in the H League.
Doosan, who won eight consecutive Korea League titles until last season, is the favorite to become the inaugural men’s champion of the H League.
However, other club managers have been vocal about the end of Doosan’s dominance.
Hanam City Hall coach Paik Won-cheol said, “I hope the ‘Udu’ will stop now. We need a reversal,” he said, adding, “I hope that all teams will go up one step and Doosan will go down two steps.”
“It’s going to be difficult for Udu in the H-League,” said Cho Young-shin, managing director of Incheon City Corporation. I know that other teams have also prepared a lot to keep Doosan in check. This league will be full of excitement.”
“No team is always in first place,” said Jung Kang-wook, head coach of last season’s Korea League runner-up Incheon City Corporation, “and we will try to win the title.”
Doosan head coach Yoon Kyung-shin shrugged off his rivals’ comments.
“We will put down the title of eight consecutive champions, prepare for the H-League with a new mind and show a great game,” Yoon said.
In the women’s division, all eyes will be on Samcheok City Hall, which won its second consecutive Korea League title last season.
“We want to win the title in the new league,” said Lee Kye-cheong, head coach of Samcheok City Hall.
In the women’s division, there are also many competitors trying to stop Samcheok City Hall from reaching the top.
Coach Kang Jae-won of the Busan Facilities Corporation said, “We have built a young team through rebuilding. We will play with enthusiasm and make good use of foreign players to create opportunities to reach the quarterfinals and finals.”
Kim Kyung-jin, head coach of the SK Sugar Gliders, said, “(Last season) we had an injury at the end, which was disappointing, but this time we will manage the players well and challenge for the championship without any injuries until the end.”
The coach of last season’s last-place team, Daegu City Hall, said, “We lost a lot of players due to the transfer of main players,” but he also drew attention by saying, “We will play hard with one mind and become the ‘jingling opponent’ of other teams and try to do it to the end.”
The H League regular season will run for six months until April 21 next year, starting with the opening matches between SK and Busan Facilities Corporation in the women’s division and Chungnam Provincial Office and Sangmu in the men’s division on April 11.
This will be followed by the postseason from April 23 to May 2.
On the men’s side, the winners of the playoffs (PO) for the third and second place in the regular season will play for the championship against the first place.
The postseason will be the same as the men’s, with the fourth- and third-place semifinals determining who advances to the PO.
The women’s semifinals and PO are single-elimination, while the men’s PO is a best-of-two series with the second-place team having one game in hand.
The championship game will be a best-of-three series for both men and women.
The H-League will initially be organized as an “unemployment league” where corporate and local government teams compete like the existing Korea League, but the goal is to gradually transition to a full professional league.
Compared to the Korea League, there are many changes.
First of all, the total prize fund has increased significantly to 300 million won from 125 million won in the Korea League.
The top teams in the regular season will receive 50 million won each, and the winners of the championship game will receive 20 million won each.
The Korea Handball Federation, which runs the league, has established a subsidiary to manage the marketing of the 14 clubs, making fan services more colorful and unified.
The Handball Federation also plans to integrate and manage paid seat sales, merchandise sales such as uniforms for each club, and billboard operations.
It will also launch MAXPORTS, a TV channel specializing in handball and soccer, in conjunction with the Korea Professional Football Association, to broadcast all 169 matches this season. 슬롯