PRO Chess League Semifinals: Saint Louis Arch Bishops vs. Armenia Eagles

PRO Chess League Semifinals: Saint Louis Arch Bishops vs. Armenia Eagles

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With the PRO Chess League semifinals and finals just days away, the margin for error is slim and some key factors will determine who goes home and who will stand at the podium as the 2019 PCL champions.

The PRO Chess League regular season produced some dramatic storylines that saw teams rise and fall over the course of a few wild final weeks. Chess.com takes a look at three important aspects of the second semifinal match: the Saint Louis Arch Bishops vs. the Armenia Eagles.

The matches will be played live at the Folsom Street Foundry in San Francisco on May 4 starting at 10 a.m. PDT., and will be streamed live on www.Twitch.tv/Chess and www.Chess.com/TV.

  1. The Fabiano Factor:
Fabiano Caruana PRO Chess League
Fabiano Caruana will hope that his pedigree helps lead his team over the defending champion Armenia Eagles.

Last season, the Eagles beat the Arch Bishops in the semifinals but there was one key difference: Fabiano Caruana was not on the Arch Bishops team. This season, the Arch Bishops have the world number-two in their lineup and will need a big performance from him to advance to the fFinals.

Caruana comes into the match in fine form, currently sporting his peak Chess.com blitz rating of 3025. Despite being known for his brilliant tactics and methodical opening preparation, Fabiano has clearly been working on his game in faster time controls and has now gained over 100 Chess.com rating points in the last year.

In case of a tie, the Eagles will have to get through Fabiano in order to win the match. In the live finals, the PRO Chess League uses an elimination-style format as tiebreaker, which means a team must defeat every player on the other team in order to win.

  1. The Eagles, rapid and blitz specialists:
Zaven Andriasyan
Zaven Andriasian (right) will have all eyes on him as he demonstrates why he's board one for the defending champions

Zaven Andriasian won the title for the Eagles by defeating Wang Yue in a thrilling blitz match in 2018, despite being rated almost 100 points lower. The Eagles are all known for being excellent in faster time controls and this is a main contributor to their success in the PRO Chess League. The Eagles are all remarkably strong at blitz, with Andriasian, Martirosyan and Shant Sargsyan all rated in the top 50 of the Chess.com blitz leaderboard, and they'll feel confident that they can even beat Caruana if it goes to a tiebreaker.

  1. Shant Sargsyan vs Bok and Theodoreau:
Benjamin Bok
Will Benjamin Bok overcome the pressure as he attempts to take points off a red-hot Armenia Eagles team?

Shant has been tearing it up this season with a performance rating in the 2600s. While he counts as only 2470 towards the team's rating, his current FIDE is above 2500 and it's clear that this 16-year old is a rapidly-improving young talent. If the Arch Bishops' middle boards can subdue him, then it's easy to see Saint Louis winning the match. However, if he continues his torrid streak against strong players and manages to go 1.5-0.5 or 2-0 against the Arch Bishops' Bok and Theodorou, the Eagles should be in prime position for victory.

The PRO Chess League semifinals and finals weekend kicks off May 4 at the Folsom Street Foundry and tickets are selling fast. Tickets can be purchased at The Ticket Fairy for just $25 plus fees for the entire weekend. Each ticket purchased also comes with a limited edition 2019 PRO Chess League finals t-shirt.

For more information about the PRO Chess League, visit www.prochessleague.com

You can also catch all the action live at www.Twitch.tv/Chess and www.Chess.com/TV

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