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Road To The PCL Finals: China Pandas

Road To The PCL Finals: China Pandas

PeterDoggers
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The PRO Chess League finals start on Friday, so it's high time to take a closer look at the four teams that will be fighting for the title. Today: the China Pandas.

The PRO Chess League finals will take place on September 25-27 on Chess.com/Live with commentary on Chess.com/TV. Below are the four teams and their lineups.

Lineups PRO Chess League Finals

# Logo Fed Saint Louis Arch Bishops Rapid Elo Pts Games Perf
1 Fabiano Caruana 2773 19 28 2768
2 Leinier Dominguez 2786 20 32 2713
3 Wesley So 2741 24 32 2825
4 Jeffery Xiong 2730 7 12 2658
# Logo Fed China Pandas Rapid Elo Pts Games Perf
1 Ding Liren 2826 6 8 2733
2 Yu Yangyi 2738 8 12 2747
3 Wei Yi 2752 24.5 36 2769
4 Li Chao 2645 11 19 2671
# Logo Fed Armenia Eagles Rapid Elo Pts Games Perf
1 Parham Maghsoodloo 2532 7 12 2687
2 Haik Martirosyan 2278 17 24 2766
3 Tigran Petrosian 2637 7.5 16 2618
4 Raunak Sadhwani 2454 5.5 8 2798
# Logo Fed Canada Chessbrahs Rapid Elo Pts Games Perf
1 Alexander Grischuk 2784 26 36 2772
2 Anish Giri 2731 9 12 2841
3 Ivan Saric 2650 10 23 2583
4 Aryan Tari 2519 7.5 8 2848

China Pandas

We are providing a closer look at all four teams and their roads to the finals. In this article, the focus is on the China Pandas.

The Pandas had no fewer than 10 players who played for their team this season. By far the most active was GM Wei Yi, who played 36 games and scored 24.5 points. GM Li Chao was good for 11 points from 19 games.

The other two players who will be in the finals, GMs Ding Liren and GM Yu Yangyi, scored 6/8 and 8/12 respectively.

The list of players for the Chengdu Pandas this season.
The list of players for the China Pandas this season.

As the top GMs were not always available, the Pandas struggled somewhat in the regular season this year. The team started with two losses, including their match with one of the other finalists: the Armenia Eagles.

The Pandas lost one more time, in the fifth round, but a total of six wins was just enough to finish in fourth place and make it to the playoffs.

Season results for the Chengdu Pandas Eagles in the Eastern Division.
Season results for the China Pandas in the Eastern Division.

With stronger lineups later than at the start, the Pandas started to get rolling and won in weeks three and four. Against the Hungary Hunters, they had three 2700 GMs who definitely helped in scoring an important 10.5-7.5 win as the Hunters would eventually finish in fifth place.

Li defeated GM Gabor Papp in a nice game. As it turned out, the king walk to g3 was still theory!

The China Pandas started their playoffs with a 9.5-6.5 win against the California Unicorns on March 4. Five days later, they eliminated the Germany Bears, champions of the Central Division, with the exact same score.

The best-performing player for the Pandas was Yu, who made 3.5/4. Here's his win vs. GM Arik Braun that ended in checkmate. 

Yu Yangyi Pro Chess League
We're seeing the China Pandas in the semifinals for the third time. In their first season in 2018, the Chinese players reached the final but dramatically lost to the Armenia Eagles in a tiebreak. The two teams met again in the match for third place last year when the Pandas took small revenge.

While Wei has by far the most experience this season, Yu and Li bring a lot of PRO Chess League history as both have played in all three seasons that the Pandas have participated in. Together, the two have played a total of 123 games in 2018-2020!


The PRO Chess League finals will take place on September 25-27 on Chess.com. For the semifinals on Friday, Sept. 25, the Pandas face the favorites: the Saint Louis Arch Bishops. Incidentally, these teams have never played before.

The other semifinal is played between the Armenia Eagles and the Canada Chessbrahs. The two losing teams will then face each other on Saturday, Sept. 26, for a fight for third place, while the big final is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27.

Like in the regular season, time control for all games will be 10 minutes plus a two-second increment. Every player on a team will play every player on the other team for a total of 16 games. The four finalists will be competing for a $40,000 prize fund with $20,000 going to the winner. All matches will be streamed live with expert commentary on Chess.com/TV.


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