In the game of one-upmanship that Indian hockey has become, every single move will have a bearing on the final outcome. Organising a competition has thus become a competition in itself with the two rivals - the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Hockey India - showing unusual zest in conducting events.
Though the race to organise competitions at the domestic level has created more avenues for the players to showcase their talent, the two organisations involved are refusing to see eye-to-eye, resulting in the tournaments losing their sheen.
The players are not sure what future holds for them. It is in this scenario that Hockey India (HI) is set to make its foray into big league domestic competition by organising a national championship for senior men, the biggest domestic event for the sport in less than a year after the IHF organised their version of the event - the 63rd Rangaswamy Cup.
HI's first National Championship would ironically be inaugurated at the same venue - the Ashbagh stadium here.
It will be a big test, not just for the players, but also HI, which will be organising its first national championship at a crucial time for the senior men's team, which is hoping to qualify for the London Olympic after missing the previous edition four years back.
The nationals will also be the selection tournament for upcoming assignments leading up to the Olympic qualifiers in February next year in New Delhi.
In all 32 teams have confirmed their participation, the organisers claimed on Thursday. The competition will be held on league-cum-knock-out basis and the teams have been divided into eight pools.
The winner of each pool will qualify for the quarterfinals. The real action will start from the last-eight stage as top teams like Air India, Punjab, Railways and Services are expected to cruise through the preliminary league without breaking much sweat.