In just a few days, on January 11, the biggest chess event that I’ve ever been a part of is starting on Chess.com.
The PRO Chess League is a worldwide team competition, played online between teams of four, with a rapid time control. It’s hard for me to even begin to describe what a spectacle this event is going to be, but I’m going to try my best.
Here are the top ten reasons you should be watching the PRO Chess League every week:
- We have 5 of the top 7 players in the World playing in the league! World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway Gnomes), #2 GM Fabiano Caruana (Montreal Chessbrahs), #4 GM Wesley So (St. Louis Arch Bishops) #5 GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Marseille Migraines), and #7 GM Hikaru Nakamura (Miami Champions), are all playing. Other big names are #13 GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (San Jose Hackers), #21 GM Leinier Dominguez Perez (Miami Champions) and #29 GM Li Chao (Montreal Chessbrahs). Overall we have 143 Grandmasters’s signed up on various teams thus far!
- There are 48 teams from 5 continents competing. We have 20 teams from the United States, 16 European teams, 4 Indian teams, 3 African teams, 2 Canadian teams, 2 South American teams and 2 Asian teams. You can see all of the teams and their rosters here.
- Every Wednesday throughout the January-March, we will have games running from around 11 AM ET all the way until midnight.
- We have four – 12 team divisions, each of which start at different times (approx 11 AM ET, 2:30PM ET, 6:30PM ET, 9:30PM ET). For each of these divisions there will be a separate dedicated live broadcast with high level commentary that covers all of the games. The hosts include stars such as GM Simon Williams, IM Anna Rudolf, GM Max Dlugy, IM Lawrence Trent, GM Max Dlugy, GM Irina Krush, GM Alex Yermolinsky, IM David Pruess, GM Jesse Kraai, GM Dejan Bojkov and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni.
- The league follows a similar format as typical American sports leagues. There is a seven week regular season, after which half of the teams qualify for the playoffs. The playoffs are then single elimination contests until we reach the Championship Weekend. The Championship Weekend will take place on March 25/26, and will include the Final Four teams. The Semifinals are scheduled for Saturday March 25 and the Championship Match concludes on March 26. You can see the full schedule here.
- The league is going to be ultra competitive. We have instituted a rating cap of 2500 FIDE each match, so that there will be as many competitive teams as possible. I am looking at these rosters and while there are quite a few teams that stand out as being very strong, I have no idea how it’s going to play out as this is a brand new type of event that has never been seen in the history of chess.
- Each match uses an all play all format. This is super exciting because each team will bring four players to the match, and they will all play everyone on the other team. So instead of seeing someone like Magnus Carlsen or Wesley So playing the same top GMs every game, you’ll also get to see what happens when they play someone a bit lower rated. You’ll also see some lower ranked players getting the chance to score big upsets every week.
- Chess.com is taking Cheating and Fair Play very seriously. A lot of how the league is handling cheating is done behind the scenes and without my knowledge, but anyone who is playing especially well on Chess.com will be susceptible to increased supervision requirements such as requiring a proctor to oversee their games and to include a webcam for remote supervision from our staff. Note however that none of these requirements will be made public. Also Chess.com has one of the most robust anti-cheating teams I’ve ever seen, with high level statisticians and mathematicians working around the clock to detect anomalies.
- It’s great for local chess communities all over the world. It’s true that Magnus Carlsen is on a team, along with over a hundred other Grandmasters, but that’s not the only purpose of the PRO Chess League. We want to bring high level chess competition to places that may not have the high density of Grandmasters that are available in other cities. We love that we have teams that will be full of GM’s each week, and also teams that are filled with more local stars. Maybe those teams won’t be able to win it all, but it gives their local fans a chance to see their heroes go head to head against some of the best players in the world.
- This event is going to revolutionize chess. I’ve never felt that any event has the chance to change the game of chess more than this one. It’s going to be fun, action packed, and an all day spectacle every single week. When we created the rules for this league I asked myself “What is the most exciting possible event that we could create that would also encourage the top players in the world to play?”. I think we’ve come up with a good answer in the PRO Chess League. Everything about this event is built to grab your attention and never let it go.