These key holdouts in the ongoing Tour Wars have now taken a side:
- JW Johnson
- Jorja Johnson
- Dylan Frazier
- Gabriel Tardio
- Milly Rane
And they've chosen...Major League Pickleball. So what does this mean?
On the men's side of the ball, it now means the MLP will have 7 of the top 10 players based on their doubles DUPR.
The biggest competition to the Johns brothers doubles game has been Riley Newman (with Matt Wright) and the Johnson/Frazier combo.
A stroll down memory lane
If you roll the clock back to November of last year, it was Johnson and Frazier who also moved the needle in the MLP/VIBE merger.
At the time, JW was the number one pick in Major League Pickleball. The PPA created the VIBE Pickleball League and quickly snatched up Johnson and Frazier from an already weakened MLP roster.
It felt like a fatal blow to MLP and led to the infamous announcement of a merger about 1 week later.
But now, the tables have turned. Caught in the middle of two goliaths, the Johnson clan again had the leverage. This time they landed with Steve Kuhn and Major League Pickleball.
JW's sister Jorja is not to be seen as a footnote in this story. She and JW were the only team to beat Ben and Anna Leigh this year.
She also becomes one of the top 3 women in the league. Still just in her teens, she has the most potential for growth and could become number 1. Johnson has had deep runs in MLP and is gaining experience in leading a team.
And oh yeah, Gabe Tardio and Milan Rane just took fourth at the PPA Kansas City Open. They were the 30-seed and nearly cracked the podium just last week. Their stock is only going up.
Is this the end?
The number of relevant names to sign at this point has dwindled. The Johnsons' (+ Frazier + Tardio + Rane) decision was a big win for the MLP.
But the direction of the PPA already appears to be focusing on big names from outside of the game that are crossing over.
Personally, I have not seen my fill of Jack Sock on the pickleball court. And who knows, maybe with dedicated training he can reach a point to challenge Ben and Collin.
Another big factor outside of the organizations' rosters is gambling. The PPA Tour was first to solve the pickleball sports betting problem. With the help of Genius sports they introduced gambling on professional pickleball at the Kansas City Open earlier this month.
So is this the end? Who knows? This thing could've tied up in litigation for years. But we are sure that another big announcement is coming down the pike real soon.