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Pro Chess League 2024: Teams Gear Up To Fight For Biggest Prize Fund Yet

Pro Chess League 2024: Teams Gear Up To Fight For Biggest Prize Fund Yet

CHESScom
| 12 | Chess.com News

Please note that the Pro Chess League has been discontinued. Read the official announcement here.

It’s nearly time—the most electrifying team event in chess, the worldwide Pro Chess League (PCL), has been confirmed for 2024.

Chess.com revealed on Tuesday that the new season will kick off in February with 16 franchises going head-to-head for the PCL’s largest prize fund yet, $250,000. But first, an important qualifying event in January to determine the last two vacant spots.

The PCL is a world-class rapid event and the chess world’s equivalent of the NFL, the NBA, or the English Premier League. It is also a rare point in the calendar where fans get to cheer on their chosen sides and the true elite get to enjoy a team dynamic.

Last year’s glittering lineup featured class acts like the current top three players on the planet: GMs Magnus CarlsenFabiano Caruana, and Hikaru Nakamura. But this year’s rosters promise to be even stronger.

IM Levy Rozman’s Gotham Knights, the reigning champions, return to defend their crown. Already, the Knights have confirmed four names for their team.

Last season, the Knights were captained by Rozman and had Nakamura and GM Liem Le on their top boards, while GM Vladimir Fedoseev was named the league's MVP ("Most Valuable Player") of the season. Nakamura and Liem are back to lead the line along with the 21-year-old Uzbek GM Shamsiddin Vokhidov and the teenage talent WIM Alua Nurmanova. Nurmanova memorably outplayed the women's world champion GM Ju Wenjun as the Knights clinched the title.

Carlsen, the world number one, turned out for the Canada ChessBrahs in 2023 and is expected to lead the line for them again in 2024.

The ChessBrahs had an extremely strong squad last time around with GMs Anish Giri, Jorden van Foreest, Ivan Saric, and Aryan Tari in the lineup with WGM Jennifer Yu, the two-time U.S. women's champion, as the women's lead.

The three-time PCL champions, the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, also return. The Arch Bishops can draw on the cream of U.S. talent, but can they improve on an already super-strong squad that includes GMs Caruana, Leinier Dominguez, and Jeffery Xiong?

The Saint Louis Arch Bishops won the PCL in 2017, 2019, and 2020. Photo: Eric Rosen / PCL.

Fourteen teams are guaranteed to return for 2024 and fight for the record $50,000 first prize. Representing the U.S., there are the Knights, Arch Bishops, Garden State Passers, and California Unicorns.

India has two teams in the tournament: the Indian Yogis and Team MGD1. In 2023, the Yogis had a stunning lineup featuring GM Vidit Gujrathi, GM Praggnanandhaa R, and GM Nihal Sarin, plus IM Vaishali R, who is now on the brink of making GM. Meanwhile, Team MGD1 had another Indian talent, GM Arjun Erigaisi, on top board.

The Blitz from France is also returning, along with the Brazil Capybaras from South America, the Croatia Bulldogs, the Norway Gnomes, the Spanish Maniac Shrimps, and last year’s finalists, the Shanghai Tigers. GM Xu Yi has confirmed for the Tigers again.

The Levitov Chess Wizards, who boasted the highest average rating in the field in 2023, will also be back with a stellar lineup of mostly Eastern European players. Last season, they were led by GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and GM Daniil Dubov, two of the most imaginative and exciting players in the game, with two of the best women in the world, GMs Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina.

That leaves two spots to fill, which will be decided in a two-day qualifier starting on January 29. Registrations for the qualifier are still open. One of the teams vying to return is GM Daniel Naroditsky’s Charlotte Cobras, who finished at the bottom of the pile in 2023 with 0-3.

The five-week regular season, played weekly, kicks off on February 13 and runs until March 14. The playoffs follow in March and April. All the action will be broadcast live with commentary on Chess.com/TV.

Look out for more announcements on the team rosters. The full tournament regulations are here. Register a team for the qualifier here. All that’s left now is—if you haven’t already—to choose your team!

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