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An Update About The Pro Chess League

An Update About The Pro Chess League

CHESScom
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Dear Chess Community,

Today we made the difficult decision to discontinue the Pro Chess League. The league truly began in 2005 when commissioner Greg Shahade launched the U.S. Chess League, the first competitive online chess league with teams from chess clubs across the United States. The league offered exciting national competition, weekly brilliancy prizes, and a dramatic playoff format. In 2017, Chess.com and Greg Shahade partnered to launch the "PCL," which further innovated the U.S. Chess League's success with the first truly global online chess league — an exciting rapid, all-play-all format, and the best chess players in the world.

Chess.com's mission for all its events is to grow the game, serve the community, and be the best possible partner for professional chess players around the world. At the time of the inaugural PCL season, outside of Titled Tuesday and the Speed Chess Championship — which existed mainly as invite-only events for the top blitz players on the planet — Chess.com offered little in terms of opportunities for cash prizes and strong competition. Further, almost nothing on our calendar provided a format with support for women and junior players.

Since that time, Chess.com has invested in many new events to support the goals above. We expanded the "SCC family” to offer both the Women's Speed Chess Championship and the Junior Speed Chess Championship, and we opened more doors for any titled player who wants to qualify for these and other tournaments. We started a now thriving Streamer's Program with frequent community events (Arena Kings, Bullet Brawls, Chess Played Quick, and more!) which serve a diverse group of chess players and creators of all kinds. The Champions Chess Tour offers a format that ensures an elite event for top players while maintaining a true meritocracy where grandmasters of all levels have a chance to compete for larger cash prizes than ever in online chess. And finally, just this year, we expanded Titled Tuesday prizes with the launch of the Titled Cup with additional prizes for women, juniors, seniors, and more.

As we’ve invested in these goals, we’ve also reflected honestly on the fact that the PCL hasn’t garnered the viewership or the fandom that we expected or that we’ve seen for our other events. Despite this, the league requires more staff commitment to run and asks for a larger commitment from players and managers than almost any other event we organize. As such, we feel the decision to discontinue the league, though difficult, is necessary. 

That said, we still believe that players competing on teams together, for fans who cheer for more than just a single top player or the moves on the board, is something the game needs. We are currently exploring many ideas, from fantasy chess, to Banter Blitz, to Tandem Chess, Hand and Brain, and more, to create exciting team events and broadcasts. We look forward to sharing our future plans here soon.

In short, while this is a sad day for all fans of the PCL, Chess.com remains committed to the original "goals" of the league. We look forward to sharing our specific plans for new team formats and events soon.

For now, on behalf of the entire team at Chess.com, Greg Shahade, and everyone who has worked hard to support the Pro Chess League over the years, I want to express our deepest appreciation for your time and efforts. And to the fans, the most heartfelt thank you for your support of the league, the teams, and the players. We would not have made it to where we are today in online chess without you, and we look forward to the next chapter together.

Sincerely,

Danny Rensch
Chief Chess Officer, Chess.com