VoyBoy, MoistCr1tikal Win Chess.com PogChamps Finals
Congratulations to Voyboy and MoistCr1tikal and on winning the inaugural Chess.com PogChamps tournament!

VoyBoy, MoistCr1tikal Win Chess.com PogChamps Finals

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49 | Chess.com News

The Chess.com PogChamps Championship and Consolation Finals on Friday, June 19th saw Voyboy, Hutch, Ludwig, and MoisCr1tikal battling their way through two thrilling and close finals matches that each went to tiebreaks. In the championship bracket, Voyboy downed Hutch in a blitz game where Hutch was very near victory or at least a draw in the final seconds. Meanwhile, MoistCr1tikal showed some serious tactical skill as he honed in on a fine checkmate and put away Ludwig confidently.

Chess.com Pogchamps Bracket
The complete Chess.com PogChamps Championship and Consolation brackets.
The complete broadcast archives are available at twitch.tv/chess.

Ludwig Comes Back, Defeats Accurate xQc

Before we could have a finals match, we had one tense semifinals match left to open the day. The match between xQc and Ludwig had been postponed by a day which meant that the match now immediately preceded the PogChamps Championship Finals, and the match-winner would have to play the Consolation Finals match immediately afterward.

Coming off a clean match win against Fuslie, xQc started off hot in game one as he scored an "out of this world" accuracy of 89.3% in a messy game. Some critical opportunities to win were missed by Ludwig who appeared to be waiting for a mistake from xQc, but when the opportunities appeared (14.Bxa6!), he didn't seize them. Meanwhile, xQc DID seize his chance to grab on d4 (22...Qxd4+!) and claimed a sizable advantage.

The final phase of the game was pure chaos as time trouble set in during the queen endgame. Having been down a pawn or two for many moves, Ludwig understandably avoided a queen trade (41.Qxg7+!) though it would have won for him. With the queens on the board, xQc had an opportunity to win immediately, and he delivered mate!

With his back against the wall, Ludwig didn't hold back in game two and his early opening aggression paid off as he managed to force an error that cost xQc a piece.

In the final moments, xQc honed in on an available fork which he delivered with a touch of fourth-wall-breaking finality. Ludwig promptly met the fork with checkmate, pushing the match to a tiebreak game.

In the pre-match commentary, Hikaru predicted that the opening would likely be a huge factor in the tiebreak blitz game, and he quickly proved right. With nerves at their peak, the players rushed through the initial moves with a speed that resembled a bullet game more than the three-minute game at hand.

At this speed, errors were expected, and xQc blundered first. Ludwig had a chance to finish the game nearly immediately with a hasty checkmate, but he "threw for content," postponing the finish but ultimately not changing the conclusion. Ludwig won and advanced to the finals to play MoistCr1tikal.

Voyboy Flags Hutch To Win Inaugural PogChamps!

Many considered VoyBoy a prohibitive favorite in the Chess.com Pogchamps; he came in as a 1400-Andy with USChess rated tournament experience. Despite that, Hutch (a longtime chess fan and streamer) pointed out that statistically he was only a slight underdog, and throughout the match, Hutch showed that he was absolutely capable of taking down VoyBoy.

In game one, Hutch attained a strong structure quickly while Voyboy bet heavily on extreme kingside aggression, playing both h4 and g4. Hutch "faltered" against the flooding pawns, allowing Voyboy to win a piece, but as the dust settled, it became clear that winning the piece was less important than the compromised kingside. Slowly both players realized the massive pressure that Voyboy was under. Soon Hutch won back his material and though things got chaotic in time trouble, he eventually emerged victorious.

The second game was a dominant effort from Voyboy who gained a quick opening advantage as Hutch launched his pawns forward with a Four Pawns Attack against Voyboy's King's Indian Defense. Hutch admitted he knew this approach was extremely risky, but he couldn't disappoint his fans who expect unbridled pawn aggression from him. Voyboy recorded a 98% accuracy in the game as he punished each mistake from Hutch and took the game to overtime by winning a piece on move 13.

The final game showed two competing strategies in sharp conflict as Voyboy tried to play reasonable moves quickly and put psychological pressure on Hutch with aggressive threats while Hutch played more thoughtfully and more precisely. With the clock ticking down, Hutch managed to win all but two of Voyboy's pawns, but he was just slightly too slow to transition to an attempt to eliminate Voyboy's pawns and force a draw. With two pawns remaining, Voyboy dirty flagged Hutch and earned the inaugural Chess.com PogChamps championship title!

"The grease machine rides again!"

The final match between MoistCr1tikal and Ludwig mas certain to be a blast to watch as the two strongest trash-talkers in the event not named SLiker faced off in a match either could win. Hikaru had previously predicted that Ludwig would be a "prohibitive favorite" in the consolation bracket, but Cr1tikal placed a lot of faith in his 5Head coach, GM Daniel Naroditsky.

The first game was nearly decided by a bit of magic as Ludwig caught Cr1tikal with an en passant capture, a move that Cr1tikal had been shown in training but had forgotten in the moment. Despite this, Cr1tikal put Ludwig under heavy pressure in a tactical back and forth and when Ludwig unleashed a Botez Gambit, Cr1tikal was quick to accept and convert.

The second game was all Ludwig's after a blunder on move 13 from Cr1tikal that dropped an exchange and a pawn (13.Be3?). It was uphill-sledding after that, but 22.Rxe2? didn't help matters, and the game was quickly decided.

Cr1tikal's 13th and 22nd moves weren't the only collapses during the game though. Due to wildfires in the Phoenix area, Chess.com's ISP suffered a widespread outage in Arizona, and the stream died mid-game. Making the most of an unfortunate situation, we raided both participants and started the final game. Our apologies to all for the outage and the loss of commentary in such an exciting moment.

The final game was a nail-biter in which both players were extremely focused, and Ludwig claimed an early edge by catching Cr1tkal's king in the center. Cr1tikal's tactical practice ultimately paid off as he had solved hundreds of chess.com/puzzles in recent days, and he both saw the opportunity to win a piece and then the opportunity to finish with a beautiful checkmate.

Chess.com would like to thank all the participants, fans, and coaches in this first-ever PogChamps tournament for a thrilling event. It's been an incredible opportunity for chess players to be introduced to these fantastic streamers and the larger world of Twitch and for Twitch to be introduced to chess.

During PogChamps...

  • 140,000 new chess fans followed twitch.tv/chess.
  • A chess YouTube video (xQc vs. MoistCr1tikal) was trending for (to our knowledge) the first time ever.
  • The chess category reached 150,000 concurrent viewers for the first time.
  • twitch.tv/chess had a record 85,000 concurrent viewers.
  • A single chess stream reached 1,000,000 unique views for the first time.
  • Erobb221 got a W.


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