Today: 2020 PRO Chess League Qualifiers
Eight teams from around the globe will fight for one final spot in the 2020 PRO Chess League season today, Nov. 16, at 9 a.m. Pacific.

Today: 2020 PRO Chess League Qualifiers

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The PRO Chess League Qualifiers are right around the corner, and the event will determine which team earns the final spot in the upcoming season. All eight teams are set to square off on Nov. 16, 2019, at 9 a.m. Pacific. After an intensive application process, the PRO Chess League committee made their final team selections last week:

Team Twitch Channel
Azerbaijan Wolves azerbaijanwolves
Serbia Aliens TBD
Croatia Bulldogs flagmasternemec
Latvia Magicians chessforce_
Portugal Patzers fmkikoveiga
Iceland Puffins reykjavikpuffins
San Diego Surfers sdsurfers18
Korea Insiders chessinside

Full event coverage will be available on Chess.com/tv with commentary by IM Danny Rensch and WFM Alexandra Botez.

All eight of these teams are extremely talented and each of them can make an immediate impact at the next level.

—Greg Shahade, PRO Chess League Commissioner

This year's format will follow a classic PRO Chess League format—the Battle Royale. In the eight-team round-robin, every team will have an opportunity to rise to the top as each player will look to maximize their team's score. However, unlike past seasons, this year's Battle Royale comes with a special twist: the top two teams will advance and face off in an additional single round match.

"This year's qualifier is designed to reward the most competitive team," said PRO Chess League Commissioner Greg Shahade. "Adding an additional round to the Battle Royale will make every game even more important as each team will be bringing their best to jockey for a position in the top two."

IM Greg Shahade PRO Chess League
This season will mark the fourth year for Greg Shahade (right) as PRO Chess League Commissioner.

The Battle Royale will use a 10|2 time control in every round, including the final match. In each round, teams will play for points that are comprised of the individual game results their four players earn. In the final match, the four results will be added to both teams' totals to determine which team advances to the PRO Chess League season. In the case of a tie, the top two teams will continue to face off in single-round matches until a winner is determined.

While only one team will advance to the 2020 PRO Chess League regular season, this year's qualifier brings a lot of familiar faces. The Iceland Puffins, formerly the Reykjavik Puffins, look to continue their triumphant Summer Series performance where the team earned its first playoff berth in franchise history. GMs Johann Hjartarson and Helgi Olafsson lead the Puffins' roster before this week's signing deadline.

Iceland Puffins PRO Chess League Qualifier
Can the Iceland Puffins continue their Summer Series success and reach the PRO Chess League?

The Latvia Magicians, like the Puffins, were relegated in 2018 but in doing so upset the Norway Gnomes in a match that would eventually cost Magnus Carlsen's side a shot at the playoffs. Having recruited top players like GMs Igor Kovalenko and Artur Neiksans, General Manager Ritvars Reimanis is confident in his team's ability to return to the PRO Chess League. Both players have ample PRO Chess League experience, and if complemented with the right pair on the third and fourth boards, the Magicians could rise to the top when today's action is over.

The San Diego Surfers, the 2018 Pacific Division regular-season champions, aspire to recoup from a dreadful 2019 campaign by becoming the fifth American team in the new-look PRO Chess League. The Surfers could be the youngest team in today's qualifier as their roster lists GM Michael Brown, IM Josh Sheng, and IM John Daniel Bryant as potential options.

San Diego Surfers PRO Chess League
The San Diego Surfers have been a staple of the PRO Chess League that dates back to their U.S. Chess League days. Can the California-based team qualify to reach their fourth PRO Chess League season?

PRO Chess League fans will have five new teams to cheer for in this year's qualifier. The Azerbaijan Wolves seem to be a favorite by rating to advance. With a roster that boasts two veterans, GMs Vasif Durarbayli and Eltaj Safarli, the Wolves have very experienced top boards in the qualifier. Durarbayli (Webster) and Safarli (San Jose) played a total of 64 games for their teams last season, and both posted performance ratings over 2650.

The Serbia Aliens will be a team of interest for Live Chess World League (LCWL) fans. Born from the LCWL's top division, the team already has commitments from several of the country's top players, including GMs Ivan Ivanisevic and Igor Miladinovic. This team is already shaping to be a serious contender and should have a decent chance of becoming the PRO Chess League's 24th team.

GM Ivan Ivanisevic PRO Chess League
GM Ivan Ivanisevic will make his PRO Chess League debut for the Serbia Aliens. Photo: Nenad Radosevic.

Formerly the Zagreb Chessentials in past qualifiers, the Croatia Bulldogs are counting on IM Leon Livaic to lead their team to the PRO Chess League. While team manager Vjekoslav Nemec is still building his roster, one thing is clear—the Croatians are prioritizing the younger (and faster) generation for their lineup. Will the gamble pay off? Only time will tell.

The Portugal Patzers and the Korea Insiders may both be sizable underdogs in today's qualifier, but both sides will be making historic debuts in the event. Neither country has been represented in an elite online tournament, and both sides have worked closely with their federations to ensure their best players can play. Expectations may be low, but do not be surprised if Korea or Portugal reel in the upset of the day.

GM Luis Galego PRO Chess Leagu Qualifiers
GM Luis Galego will headline Portugal's lineup today in the Patzers' PRO Chess League debut. Photo: Jose Santos.

To watch the PRO Chess League Qualifier, tune in to Chess.com/TV today, Nov. 16 at 9 a.m. Pacific to support your favorite team.

More PRO Chess League information:

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