The Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League is back in action for its third consecutive season. What started as an extension of the United States Chess League in January 2017 has grown by leaps and bounds and enters its newest phase in January 2019. With the world's best players competing for glory, the event proves to be gripping for all the enthusiastic chess fans around the world.
The format is short, intensive, and exciting, all at the same time! The players play weekly matches, drawn into four divisions based on time zones. The time control is 15 minutes plus an increment of two seconds in the league stage. The weekly round-ups are on each Tuesdays and Thursdays for the Atlantic/Pacific and the Eastern/Central Divisions respectively. There would also be three other round-robin matches, where there would be inter-divisional matches. This first stage consists of 10 rounds, and it would be followed by the playoffs. The teams can fill in both locals and free agents, with the rating restrictions mentioned on the official website.
There is a bonus of a 100 rating points for the female players, to encourage more women players to participate in the teams. However, the most important attraction for all the teams is the large sum of prize money for the winners. There are weekly game and move of the week awards, three-four social media prizes, and other awards at the end of the season. Besides, the top players also get to play in the All-Star Match that takes place post the main league season, a championship that started in September 2018. The league commissioner IM Greg Shahade looks to make the league truly global as mentioned in his interview previously, having just launched the new team merchandise online store.
Last year, it was the team from Armenia, the Armenian Eagles, that clinched the championship. It was a nail-biting finish to the end, and the event drew thousands of viewers online. The final was played in a different format than usual; the matches being held in a neutral venue and not in the players' homes. This finale was contested in San Francisco, California and boasted of many strong players coming out to participate in the two-day chess bonanza. It was also broadcasted by chess.com on TwitchTV, the league's media partner. Moreover, it officially made chess an e-sport.
This coming new year, the league proves to be more entertaining than ever. The two Indian teams- the Delhi Dynamite and the Mumbai Movers- will also be back in action. Delhi Dynamite has already signed on its star player super-grandmaster Pentala Harikrishna, while Mumbai have their local lad Vidit Gujrathi. The qualifiers held in November saw the addition of six teams to the pre-existing teams that were selected by their performance in the previous edition of the tournament. Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, and the likes will all be participating this time around as well.
With such a massive pool of talent, one can't wait to see what the new season of the league has in store for all of us. Keep on the lookout for the first game that starts on January 8th, 2019.Published 13 Dec 2018, 17:24 IST