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6 Teams Qualify For PRO Chess League; You Pick 2 More!
Eagles, Horses, Movers, Pandas, Sluggers, and Kangaroos qualify.

6 Teams Qualify For PRO Chess League; You Pick 2 More!

As commenter IM David Pruess observed, heartbreak was inevitable as 38 excellent PRO Chess League teams competed for only 8 berths in the 2018 season of the PRO Chess League.

The ultimate qualifiers (the Armenia Eagles, Estonia Horses, Mumbai Movers, Chengdu Pandas, Seattle Sluggers, and Australia Kangaroos) demonstrated the global nature of chess and the PRO Chess League as no countries qualified more than one team and four continents were represented. Here are the top six teams in each qualifier with the top three teams having secured qualification to the PRO Chess League. Full crosstables for both qualifiers featuring all individual results are available in the complete crosstables below.

Place Early Qualifier Late Qualifier
1 Armenia Eagles Chengdu Pandas
2 Estonia Horses Seattle Sluggers
3 Mumbai Movers Australia Kangaroos
4 Oslo Trolls New York Knights
5 Apeldoorn Apes Minnesota Blizzard
6 Rehovot Masters SF Mechanics

Places 4-6 in both the early and late qualifiers are eligible to qualify via a fan vote. One additional team will be voted in from each qualifier.

Polls are available on both Twitter and Chess.com for 72 hours after this article was published. Votes will be accumulated from both the Twitter and Chess.com polls and viewers are permitted and even encouraged to cast an honest vote in all four polls!

Polls from the early and late qualifiers on Chess.com are available here:

The format for the qualifier was as follows: a swiss system featuring 15 rounds of 3|2 blitz. Teams submitted a four-player lineup with an average rating below 2500 and scores from all four players were summed to achieve the team scores.

Teammates absolutely could and did play each other in the event with some waging serious battles and some choosing to rapidly agree a draw and save their energy for future rounds.

Early Qualifier

22 teams and 88 players tried their luck in the early qualifier, dedicated to European, African, and Western Asian teams seeking to compete in the Central and Eastern divisions of the PRO Chess League. Four teams, Guntur, Uganda, Nantes and the Madrid Sharks, dropped out prior to the start of play.

Competing Teams

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The hottest start was achieved by the Malmö Moomins. On first board, they had GM Nils Grandelius who started with 5/5, the only player to start with a perfect score. Grandelius has one of the best Chess.com usernames on record: Grandelicious. He gave some short comments while his team was riding high.

The Moomins were engaged in a friendly rivalry with their countrymen, the Stockholm Wasabis who streamed commentary from the legendary GM Pia Cramling in Swedish. Unfortunately, the Wasabis were never able to elevate their team into the top places as GM Tom Wedberg struggled.

Returning to the Moomins, the Nils Grandelius train was stopped by GM Santosh Vidit Gujrathi who won with a mysterious exchange sac that baffled the commenters and Grandelius.

Watch live video from Chess on www.twitch.tv

This was one of many fine games won by Vidit who benefited from a mixture of incredible skill and significant luck to eventually win clear first in the event by 1.5 points!

One example of both his significant skill and luck was the following game where he was completely winning, then nearly losing, and finally drawing with a remarkable perpetual!

Vidit's excellent performance ultimately elevated his team, the Mumbai Movers, into one of the coveted top-three slots and qualification, but another Indian favorite, the Hyderabad Hawks were not so blessed.

Early in the tournament, GM Harika Dronovalli missed a nice mate, ceding a half-point that her team could have used.

Watch live video from Chess on www.twitch.tv

More significant was the relatively poor performance of GM Parimarjan Negi. Negi is a great talent who was for a long time the second-youngest GM ever ahead of Carlsen. Yesterday, he became the third-youngest GM ever as the remarkable Uzbekistani talent, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, earned his GM title.

Negi's 7.5/15 was not a bad score, but his team needed more from their board one if they hoped to qualify. Negi has been in semi-retirement from competitive chess while he pursues his degree at Stanford. While the rust was showing, it was great to see him back in action, and chess fans surely hope he will play more chess in future!

GM Parimarjan Negi currently plays rarely while he pursues his Stanford degree.

The ultimate first and second place finishers in the event, the Armenia Eagles and the Estonia Horses showed the value of balanced lineups. Entering as their first and third place team by seeds, they arguably lacked the prestige of an elite board one, but they each managed to grab top 15 spots for ALL of their top three boards. With solid fourth-board performances, they easily locked in victorious slots.

Armenia Eagle's board one GM Zaven Andriasyan also entered the event with the top seed according to Chess.com blitz ratings and secured shared second with Grandelius.

Meanwhile GM Sergey Shipov of the Estonia Horses provided streaming commentary for the entirety of his qualification attempt. It did not seem to negatively affect his play as he finished 13th and was often among the leaders.

What was the sweetest move in the early PRO Chess League qualifier? The author thinks it must be this bomb drop from Aleksandr Kumala whose Radom Randoms unfortunately missed the cut.

Early Qualifier Team Results

Team Score
Armenia Eagles 37.5
Estonia Horses 37
Mumbai Movers 36.5
Oslo Trolls 32
Apeldoorn Apes 32
Rehovot Masters 31.5
Madrid Snipers 31
Bologna Rookies 30
Hyderabad Hawks 30
Israel Pawn Pushers 30

Early Qualifier Individual Results

Place Seed Fed Title Username Name Score Team
1 3 GM viditchess Vidit Gujrathi 12.5 Mumbai
2 1 GM Zaven_Andriasyan Zaven Andriasyan 11 Armenia
3 60 Grandelicious 11 Malmo
4 12 GM LuckyTiger Valeriy Aveskulov 10.5 Johannesburg
5 63 FM CaptainCasanova Sebastian Mihajlov 10 Olso
6 22 GM Paul66666 Meelis Kanep 10 Estonia
7 10 SamvelTerSahakyan Samvel Ter-Sahakyan 10 Armenia
8 39 IM MediocreButCreative Daniel Fernandez 9.5 Manchester
9 13 FM KamilPlichta Kamil Plichta 9.5 Radom
9 24 GM Malev212 Jaan Ehlvest 9.5 Estonia
11 5 FM shrekdavid David Gorodetzky 9.5 Rehovot
12 11 PetrosyanManuel Manuel Petrosyan 9.5 Armenia
13 4 GM GM_Crest Sergey Shipov 9 Estonia
14 17 jacky72 9 Transylvania
15 86 saguri2017 SALVADOR GUERRA RIVERA 9 Madrid
16 18 FM johnathan113 9 Rehovot
17 82 FM xamax2000 Max Warmerdam 9 Apeldoorn
18 2 GM GrigorGrigorov Grigor Grigorov 9 Stockholm
19 85 hapoel_kfs 9 Israel
20 23 GM Khaz_Modan Daniel Semcesen 8.5 Malmo
21 7 IM JoachimBN Joachim B Nilsen 8.5 Oslo
22 28 IM nubair1198 Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh 8.5 Mumbai
23 48 GM cassoulet Jonathan DOURERASSOU 8.5 Paris
24 16 FM SmoothAsAHedgehog 8.5 Manchester
25 29 AVolodin Aleksandr Volodin 8.5 Estonia
26 34 FM timator Gabriel Quispe 8.5 Madrid
27 84 Harsha_Bharathakoti Harsha Bharathakoti 8.5 Hyderabad
28 21 DeGrootteZ Nico Zwirs 8 Apeldoorn
29 14 IM Buzhizhebuguai 8 Sichuan
30 66 rnick89 8 Bologna
31 45 shyam shyam sundar 8 Amaravati
32 38 Swarnapuri 8 Amaravati
32 19 IM Bengalas Luis Rubio Mejía 8 Madrid
34 42 IM smilecoach123 Wu 8 Sichuan
35 33 FM champ2005 RAUNAK SADHWANI 8 Mumbai
35 27 MozartOfBungle Lukas Winterberg 8 Zagreb
35 54 FM metra93 Artem Gilevych 8 Bologna
38 35 FM StarkAst 8 Oviedo
39 59 boo786 Michael Rohde 8 Paris
40 57 IM robbykevlishvili Robby Kevlishvili 8 Apeldoorn
41 65 IM omer1997 omer reshef 8 Israel
42 8 Elegance_Riks 7.5 Hyderabad
43 79 FM johannesh Johannes Haug 7.5 Olso
44 76 GM Parimarjan Parimarjan Negi 7.5 Hyderabad
45 70 abhidabhi Abhimanyu Puranik 7.5 Mumbai
46 64 IM rubhani rubhani rubhani 7.5 Israel
47 53 IM testviking Rauan Sagit 7.5 Stockholm
48 83 HannibaLettier Giuseppe Lettieri 7.5 Bologna
49 6 GM Federer999 7 Amaravati
50 9 titan013 Namig Guliyev 7 Paris
51 75 IM Rooie2016 Merijn van Delft 7 Apeldoorn
52 49 Qnilao Lin Yi 7 Sichuan
52 26 Jan_One 7 Rehovot
54 58 RichardWe Richard Wessman 7 Stockholm
55 50 FM skavpl A Skaw 7 Radom
56 43 rezacz 7 Radom
57 62 Manukyan_Artak Artak Manukyan 7 Armenia
58 32 HRV FM Sven_Tica Sven Tica 6.5 Zagreb
59 61 ItalyMaster 6.5 Bologna
60 71 pranee22 Praneeth Surya 6.5 Hyderabad
61 68 FM Ivanandresglez Ivan Andres Gonzalez 6.5 Oviedo
62 15 GM vladjianu Vlad Jianu 6.5 Bucharest
63 44 1999x zeyu xiang 6.5 Sichuan
64 77 el_greek Gabriel Chess Trainer 6.5 Bucharest
65 81 cuttappa Chakravarthy Y V K 6.5 Amaravati
66 30 ZAF IM zim0ne Mudhara 6 Johannesburg
67 25 Disturbed01 6 Transylvania
68 78 Juanman96 6 Oviedo
69 36 FM NimrodVeinberg Nimrod Wainberg 6 Rehovot
70 37 IM larso Lars Oskar Hauge 6 Oslo
71 52 sashadav Alex David 6 Bucharest
72 51 Kumi29 6 Radom
73 73 HRV FM matej2221 Matej Blazeka 6 Zagreb
74 80 JCarroll86 Aitor AA 6 Oviedo
75 46 WhiteDemoN 5.5 Malmo
76 56 JMcPhillips 5.5 Manchester
77 47 FM pedromartinez91 pedro martinez 5.5 Madrid
78 55 FM Banzeus 5.5 Transylvania
79 69 GM_Andrei_Murariu Andrei 5.5 Bucharest
80 67 Sfaradit 5.5 Israel
81 40 Dr_Nezard 5 Malmo
82 87 GeorgeTheRealMVP 5 Transylvania
83 88 WasaWarrior1 Tom Wedberg 5 Stockholm
84 74 ZAF FM silverback96 Roberto De Abreu 4.5 Johannesburg
85 41 FM MyleneFarmer Wojtek Sochacki 4 Paris
86 72 little-gnome 4 Manchester
87 31 ZAF IM Firebullet 2.5 Johannesburg
88 20 HRV SemperFi1 2 Zagreb

Find the full crosstable and all games on the tournament page.

IMs David Pruess and Anna Rudolf provided commentary on the early qualifier. Find their full commentary at twitch.tv/chess.

Watch live video from Chess on www.twitch.tv

Late Qualifier

With only one pre-qualifier withdrawal (the Patagonia Penguins), 13 teams and 56 players lined up to play the late qualifier to qualify for the Pacific and Atlantic divisions. This year the PRO Chess League was pleased to welcome qualification attempts (ultimately successful) from the other side of the Pacific as two teams from Australia and one team from China elected to compete with the many North and South American teams.

Competing Teams

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The late qualifier had a bumpy streaming start, but few were bothered as GM and top-seed Hikaru Nakamura had chosen to broadcast his play on his personal Twitch channel! Hundreds elected to watch his incredibly high-level blitz commentary.

Watch live video from GMHikaru on www.twitch.tv

Nakamura was playing for the Seattle Sluggers who participated in the 2017 PRO Chess League, but weren't able to secure a playoff spot. With Nakamura on board one, they are clearly a team to be feared.

The second seed in the event was GM Yu Yangyi who competed for the Chengdu Pandas. With their winning qualification performance, they become the first Chinese team into the PRO Chess League. They clearly demonstrated their prowess in the qualifier and will surely be a force in the regular season. Here Yu Yangyi got the better of Nakamura with some clever tactics.

Watch live video from Chess on www.twitch.tv

Although this is their first time playing, their manager Li Chao competed as a free agent for the Montreal Chessbrahs last year and will surely have lots of wisdom to pass on. Their elite talent is perhaps not the scariest aspect of the Pandas. They had excellent performances from their top three boards as boards two and three finished 4th and 6th behind Yu Yangyi's shared first! It has often been said that Chinese players are underrated because only the National team members get regular chances to play FIDE events; based on this qualifier, that appears to be true!

Despite Yu Yangyi's and Nakamura's presence and ultimate victory, the only player to achieve a perfect score after five rounds was GM Daniel Naroditsky, who has proved himself a force in blitz and bullet chess with one of the highest ratings on site.

Naroditsy is now playing for the San Francisco Mechanics who weren't able to grab a top three spot and will have to pin their hopes on the fan vote to get a berth this year.

A team that delivered on their high average rating of 2497 was the Australia Kangaroos! Lead by team manager GM Max Illingworth, they are the first team from the southernmost habitable continent to join the PRO Chess League! They bested their countrymen, the Australia Blitzkreig who were among the leaders for some time but faded down the stretch.

Illingworth will be familiar to many from his regular presence on Chess.com and his popular blog which contains many excellent chess puzzles, such as this one:

Another team needing success in the fan vote is the Minnesota Blizzard. Their highest score was achieved by IM Andrew Tang who is a legendary bullet player. Here he nearly gets the best of Yu Yangyi despite playing with seconds on the clock.

Watch live video from Chess on www.twitch.tv

The final hopeful team is the New York who were lead by Chess.com regulars GMs Mark Pargua and Oliver Barbosa. Strong finishes from both elevated them into top 12 twelve individual places and a sixth place finish as they edged out GM Ben Finegold's Atlanta Kings.

With play completed and scores tabulated, it's up to you! Be sure to vote and show your support for the two additional teams you want to see in the regular season!

Late Qualifier Team Results

Team Score
Chengdu Pandas 36.5
Seattle Sluggers 35
Australia Kangaroos 34.5
New York Knights 34
Minnesota Blizzard 32.5
SF Mechanics 31
Atlanta Kings 31
Boston Blitz 28.5
Australia Blitzkrieg 28
Michigan Mittens 27.5

Late Qualifier Individual Results

Place Seed Fed Title Username Name Score Team
1 2 GM chesspanda123 12 Chengdu
2 1 GM Hikaru Hikaru Nakamura 12 Seattle
3 4 GM DanielNaroditsky Daniel Naroditsky 11.5 San Francisco
4 10 IM xxysoul6 10 Chengdu
5 18 IM penguingm1 Andrew Tang 10 Minnesota
6 12 GM kaka666 9.5 Chengdu
7 9 GM Hamonde Mark Paragua 9.5 New York
8 52 Real-boy Джурабек Хамракулов 9 New York
9 8 GM Illingworth Max Illingworth 9 Kangaroos
10 42 Megazz66 9 Kangaroos
11 39 GM Molton Moulthun Ly 9 Kangaroos
12 47 GM barzed Oliver Barbosa 8.5 New York
13 20 NM lolcatzz Bryce Tiglon 8.5 Seattle
14 43 IM Greenhaven Sean Nagle 8.5 Minnesota
15 33 IM Fins0905 John Bartholomew 8 Minnesota
16 13 GM Tarlev_Konstantin Konstantin Tarlev 8 Boston
17 6 GM GGuseinov Gadir Guseinov 8 Atlanta
18 48 blitis Jacques Blit 8 Buenos Aires
19 35 IM yian123 Yian Liou 8 San Francisco
19 17 IM SimpleTheBest Daniel Gurevich 8 Atlanta
21 14 GM Trade09 Krikor Sevag Mekhitarian 8 Sao Paolo
22 27 FM Hashtags 8 Michigan
23 5 GM mironius Evgenij Miroshnichenko 7.5 Blitzkreig
24 7 IM AntonSmirnov Anton Smirnov 7.5 Blitzkreig
25 28 GM CCSL Ben Finegold 7.5 Atlanta
26 25 IM want2lose 7.5 Michigan
26 11 GM Margvela90 Giorgi Margvelashvili 7.5 Seattle
28 3 FM CMC-Academy Jorge Sammour 7.5 Boston
29 30 NM JustKid Ben Moon 7.5 Atlanta
30 34 IM asms9699 Atulya Shetty 7.5 Michigan
31 26 IM ceesuryudodis James Morris 7.5 Kangaroos
32 23 GM smurfo David Smerdon 7 Blitzkreig
33 29 Mwamba1409 7 New York
34 22 IM RaymondCarver Denys Shmelov 7 Boston
35 53 NM RainingWinning Anthony He 7 Seattle
36 51 IM Sosat98 Tomas Sosa 6.5 UNTREF
37 32 GM elefante33 Felipe El Debs 6.5 Sao Paolo
38 49 Lefjonjuv Martín Labollita 6.5 UNTREF
39 36 martinbitel martin sokolov 6.5 Buenos Aires
40 15 IM RobertoJBM Roberto Junio Brito Molina 6.5 Sao Paolo
41 24 IM elextranjero00 Ernesto Real de Azua 6.5 UNTREF
42 21 FM B_Clarke Brandon Clarke 6 Blitzkreig
43 37 GM vbhat Vinay Bhat 6 San Francisco
44 19 GM mauricioflores Mauricio Flores 6 Minnesota
45 16 IM Cryptochess Alexander Katz 6 Boston
46 38 FM Alvarov79 5.5 Sao Paolo
47 41 FM Fibrinogen 5.5 San Francisco
48 50 patasss Ivan gustavo balza 5.5 Buenos Aires
49 44 Acgnwan 5 Chengdu
50 31 IM LastHeroJr German Della Morte 5 Buenos Aires
51 46 blazingbanana Apurva 4.5 Michigan
52 45 IM eltatagm NCF DH 1.5 UNTREF

Find the full crosstable and all games on the tournament page.

IM Lawrence Trent and WGM Jennifer Shahade commented on the late qualifier. Their full commentary is available on twitch.tv/chess.

Watch live video from Chess on www.twitch.tv

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