The LIV Golf Invitational Series is back for the second leg of its inaugural season on Thursday.

The first event of a series previously known as the 'Super Golf League' took place at the Centurion Club, near London, earlier this month, finally – briefly – turning the focus back to golf after months of claim, counter-claim and controversy.

Next up is a trip Stateside to Portland, where the interest in how LIV Golf fares is likely to be undimmed.

The largely unpopular but hugely lucrative breakaway from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour has the backing of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), attracting even more of the sport's best players since its England debut.

Yet this is a series many are still getting to grips with, so what is the deal with LIV Golf? How does it work? Who will be playing? And why has it caused such uproar?

Stats Perform attempts to answer the myriad questions around this contentious competition.

What is LIV Golf?

A Saudi-backed rival to the PGA Tour has been rumoured for years, taking on various names before finally launching as the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Greg Norman, a two-time Open champion and LIV Golf's CEO, has described this as the arrival of "free agency" in golf, with leading players skipping PGA Tour events to play in the new series.

That is exactly what the PGA Tour sought to avoid when it vowed to ban any players who joined a rival league – a promise that came to pass the moment 17 of its stars teed off at the Centurion Club.

"Our mission is to modernise and supercharge the game of professional golf through expanded opportunities for both players and fans alike," reads LIV Golf's website, adding its aim to provide "a cutting-edge entertainment product".

That does not only mean a new series and new events, but also a new format...

How does it work?

Gone is the long-established structure of 72 holes across four days with the field cut after two rounds.

Regular season LIV Golf events will last only 54 holes and three days, with no cuts, meaning – organisers point out – there is no danger of eye-catching names being absent for the end of the tournament.

There are also shotgun starts, "ensuring a faster and more exciting pace of play", and smaller fields with only 48 players.

This may all be unfamiliar, but it is at least straightforward. The other changes are a little more complex.

Players will be pursuing individual glory, as at any other golf tournament, but there are also team prizes on offer, with each field broken up into 12 four-man teams.

At every event, there will be an individual winner – the traditional victor with the lowest 54-hole score – and a triumphant team, whose score will be calculated using their best two scores over the first two rounds and their best three from the third.

Charl Schwartzel claimed two wins in England, heading the individual leaderboard and inspiring his Stingers GC to victory, too.

The first seven events of the season – four in the United States and one each in England, Thailand and Saudi Arabia – will provide a seasonal individual champion, while the year's most successful team are then identified at a further match-play knock-out tournament.

Who's playing?

With a number of big names publicly opposing the breakaway, Rory McIlroy referred to the then Super Golf League as the "not-so-Super League" back in February.

But LIV Golf claimed to have received 170 applications ahead of the first event and has continued to add superstar talent to its ranks.

Dustin Johnson was the star attraction in England, named as a team captain, although he was then joined late on by Phil Mickelson, who had not previously played for several months since his comments in relation to the tournament and its funding prompted an apology.

In Portland, Patrick Reed and huge PGA Tour rivals Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will debut.

Koepka had previously dismissed the idea of joining LIV Golf, with his U-turn described by McIlroy – whose popularity on the PGA Tour has only grown with each development – as "pretty duplicitous".

"My opinion changed," Koepka explained in response. "That was it."

The four-man teams – who have their own logos, colours and names – were drafted by their captains ahead of the Centurion Club event, but the vast change in the field has prompted major tweaks for this week.

Koepka and his brother Chase, previously of Mickelson's Hy Flyers, will team up for Smash, with DeChambeau front and centre for Crushers. Reed is Johnson's team-mate for 4 Aces.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their early success, the all-South African Stingers are unchanged.

Why's it so controversial?

Any rebel league that threatened the PGA Tour was unlikely to be globally popular, but Saudi Arabia's influence has contributed significantly to the backlash.

The country's human rights record is of major concern, along with its role in the war in Yemen, so ventures such as these – and the acquisition of Premier League club Newcastle United – by its PIF are widely cited as examples of sportswashing.

Norman has suggested Saudi Arabia is "making a cultural change".

While he described the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 as "reprehensible", the LIV Golf chief added: "Look, we've all made mistakes, and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward."

Norman was speaking last month, by which point Mickelson's own discussion of Khashoggi's death had done a great deal of harm to the league's reputation.

The six-time major champion acknowledged Saudi Arabia's "horrible record on human rights" but added he was willing to commit to LIV Golf as it was "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates".

Mickelson made those comments in November last year, although they were reported earlier this year just as the series sought to launch.

Norman said the saga "definitely created negative momentum against us" and revealed "everybody got the jitters", causing some players to back out.