Announcing The New 2020 PRO Chess League

Announcing The New 2020 PRO Chess League

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99 | Chess Event Coverage

The PRO Chess League is back for the 2020 season, and it will introduce major improvements and an increased prize fund for the world's premier online chess league. 

Official season play begins on January 6, 2020, and the new format of the league will give the world's top players the chance to represent their home countries, infusing the chess league with increased pride and passion. 

The best players in the world will battle in the new PRO Chess League.

—Greg Shahade, PRO Chess League commissioner

Major changes to the league for the 2020 season:

  • Rating caps eliminated. Prior to the 2020 season, teams were restricted to a 2500 Elo average. Watch out for teams of four super-grandmasters each week!
  • Increased prize fund to $60,000.  This includes weekly prizes (to be announced) for streaming and fan interaction.
  • League size retracted to 24 times. All teams will now be named after (and considered to be representing their country) countries, with four teams from the United States named after four major chess cities.
  • Relegation eliminated. Teams in the league are now in for good. This is going to help all 24 teams grow their fan-bases more rapidly, and attract sponsors for multi-year agreements.

All changes were made with the goal of creating a stronger, more exciting league for both participants and fans, who now can root for their country when selecting a PRO team to support, said PRO Chess League officials. While free agency remains a part of the league, players are encouraged to support their nation as the PRO Chess League positions itself as the online chess Olympics.

"We believe a PRO Chess League team should reflect nation's chess strength and lifelong dedication of its players at achieving excellence," said PRO Chess League commissioner Greg Shahade. "The best players in the world will battle in the new PRO Chess League while representing their fans in a meaningful way."

While many PRO Chess League favorites will return, new teams will also be joining as the league solidifies its core 24 teams. These include teams from Brazil, Sweden, Argentina, Turkey, Israel, Poland and Hungary. Mergers of teams from some of the top chess nations on earth like Russia, India and the United States will see new super-teams form.

Twenty-three teams representing 20 countries are confirmed to compete in the 2020 PRO Chess League, with the final and 24th spot going to the winner of an Invitational Qualifier (date, format and teams TBA). The full list of the confirmed 23 teams competing in the 2020 PRO Chess League are:

  1. Argentina Krakens
  2. Armenia Eagles
  3. Brazil Capybaras
  4. Canada Chessbrahs
  5. China Pandas
  6. France Roosters
  7. Germany Bears
  8. Hungary Hunters
  9. India Yogis
  10. Israel Counsellors
  11. Italy Gladiators
  12. Netherlands Mosquitoes
  13. Norway Gnomes
  14. Poland Pierogies
  15. Russia Wizards
  16. Spain (name TBD)
  17. Sweden Wasabis
  18. Turkey Knights
  19. United Kingdom Lions
  20. United States: Chicago (name TBD)
  21. United States: New York City Marshalls
  22. United States: Saint Louis Arch Bishops
  23. United States: San Francisco (name TBD)
  24. Qualifier

The new PRO Chess League is a significant step forward for how we envision chess becoming a global, team esport.

—Danny Rensch, Chess.com chief chess officer

To provide fans with the best possible chess, the league will allow each team to recruit the top players from around the world for weekly lineups with a rule capping the number of players on each team roster who have a rating over 2700 FIDE. The league will also emphasize the regular season with a new set of weekly (and streaming) prizes. 

Eric Hansen
Eric Hansen, captain and manager of the Canada Chessbrahs.

As one of the early pioneers of chess streaming, it's been a steady goal of ours to see chess make it to the bigger stages. With no rating caps, we're excited to field a roster to make Canada proud! 

—Eric Hansen, Canada Chessbrahs.

No longer are popular PRO Chess League teams at risk of relegation. This stability allows increased fan loyalty, multi-year commercial sponsorship opportunities and increased brand exposure.

"From the day we acquired the U.S. Chess League, Chess.com's goal of building a passionate, grassroots league with the finest players from around the world has been our driving force," said Danny Rensch, chief chess officer at Chess.com. "The new PRO Chess League is a significant step forward as we continue to lead the way as the chess community's only truly global professional online chess league."

More PRO Chess League information:

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