The PRO Chess League is about to start again, and the 2018 season is going to be AMAZING! Here are ten reasons why you should definitely call in sick from work on January 18th and stay logged on to chess.com for 14 hours straight:
- Even more of the top players in the World are in the league:
Last year we had 11 players rated above 2700 in the league. This year we have 17, with the potential for more to join throughout the season.
Here’s a list of some of the big stars, and the teams they represent, in 2018:
Magnus Carlsen: Norway Gnomes
Fabiano Caruana: Saint Louis Arch Bishops
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: Marseille Migraines
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: San Jose Hackers
Viswanathan Anand: Mumbai Movers
Hikaru Nakamura: Seattle Sluggers
Hou Yifan: Montreal Chessbrahs
2. We have a brand new website!
Please go check out the new PRO Chess League website! It will have almost anything you could possibly wish to know about the league. You can follow your favorite teams, there will be a live scoreboard at the top and there will be post match recaps. The fans asked for this and we listened.
3. There are fewer teams, which means that every match will be more competitive
Last year the PRO Chess League had 48 teams, with some of the teams being much weaker than the strongest teams. This led to a lot of lopsided and uninteresting matches. It also resulted in too much action for fans to follow.
This year we decided to cut the field down, and also create qualifiers to determine our new teams. This time around it’s very unlikely that you’ll see complete wipeouts, as every team is capable of putting together a lineup near the 2500 rating cap.
The bottom two teams in each division will also be removed from the league and have to qualify again in a very competitive qualification process (we had 40 teams fighting for just 8 spots this year!). That means that even teams who are eliminated from the playoffs, will still have something serious to fight for.
4. There are an insane number of GM’s competing
While there are 17 players rated above 2700, we also have more than 150 GM’s on team rosters. It’s an average of nearly 5 GM’s per team!
5. Lots of young stars are competing
Young superstars like Sam Sevian, Awonder Liang, Nihal Sarin, Jeffery Xiong and Kirill Shevchenko are competing this year. It’s going to be great watching them face off against experienced Grandmasters on a weekly basis.
6. The commentary is going to be AWESOME!
We have four new regular commentators in 2018:
IM Danny Rensch
WGM Jenn Shahade
GM Robert Hess
GM Ben Finegold
They will all get their own weekly slots that they will share with a co-host. Check out all of our commentators here.
7. There is going to be a Fantasy Contest EVERY WEEK!
Each week you will have the chance to pick 16 players from that week’s matches. The format will be that you’ll pick one player from each board (1 through 4) from each division. It’ll be quick, easy, but also a really fun way to follow your favorite players, or perhaps make some new favorites during the season.
There will of course be prizes, in the form of premium Chess.com memberships, every week!
8. This year we have an All-Star Game
Using an exciting format, with $5,000 in prizes, fans will be treated to a one of a kind blitz battle to determine which division has the best four players. Read here for more details
9. It will be much easier to follow your favorite players
Last season some fans had difficulty finding the games of their favorite teams. That won’t ever be a problem in 2018, as when you watch the live show on chess.com/tv, there will be links you can click on that will automatically observe the games of any team you wish.
10. We have 5 new teams from our Qualifier
Our PRO Chess Leauge Qualifier welcomed 8 teams into the league. 3 of those teams were already in the league last season (Minnesota Blizzard, Mumbai Movers and Seattle Sluggers), but 5 teams will be getting their first taste of PRO Chess League Action. Those teams are:
Chengdu Pandas: Our first Chinese team, managed by GM Li Chao, and led by 2750 rated Yu Yangyi, and near 2700 players Wang Yue and Ni Hua. They are sure to be one of the most dangerous teams in the league.
Australia Kangaroos: A well balanced team from Australia with many well known Aussie players. Anton Smirnov is a 17 year old GM and will be getting some great experience for the team. GM Max Illingworth, who has a cool Patreon page, will also be part of the team
Estonia Horses: Perennial U.S. Championship Contender, Alex Onischuk, is playing for the Horses. Also the well known chess announcer and streamer, GM Sergei Shipov is part of the team. They are managed by former World Championship Candidate, GM Jaan Ehlvest.
Armenia Eagles: The Eagles have a whopping 8 GM’s on their roster. With a very motivated manager, Artak Manukyan, they have managed to sign lots of strong Armenian talents.
Oslo Trolls: The Norway Gnomes made the PRO Chess League finals last year, but many of their members jumped ship to join the new Norwegian team. The Trolls are a younger group of players, with lower ratings than their Gnome counterparts, but you can see that they are a hungry and motivated group.
On top of all of these reasons we will have a brand new format of matches held twice per season, called Super Saturday. This will pit teams from different divisions against each other in a sixteen team free for all. We will also have some of the most well known chess streamers taking part in the league, such as Eric Hansen, John Bartholomew, Kevin Bordi, Andrey Ostrovsky, Andrew Tang, and many more.
Stay tuned for even more exciting details to be announced as the season progresses, and tune in on January 18th for the first round of action. Our normal match day will be held on Wednesdays, but our first match is on a Thursday to coordinate with the rest day at Tata Steel.