The PRO Chess League Finals: The biggest event in Chess e-sports history

The Winning Moment
Devanshi Rathi

The second season of the PRO Chess league came to a close on 8th April 2018. After almost four months of grueling play, it was all over.

The Armenian Eagles, winners of the Eastern Division, clinched the Championship, and the bragging rights, of being the creators of e-sports history.

They won a nail-biting encounter against the extremely strong team from China - the Chengdu Pandas. The match was tied at 8-8 and then came the thrilling tie-break.

The rules said that, the two fourth board players must compete against each other, and they would be replaced by the next board on losing.

Both players would be eliminated in a draw. This would continue till the first board loses. Moreover, the time control of this tie-breaker changed from the original rapid format of 15 minutes plus 2 seconds increment to, 3 minutes plus one-second increment.

However, more rules were needed as the show went on. In the climax stage, both teams had their number one players competing against each other. Now, they would continue to play even if there was a draw. They would keep playing until there was a winner.

With their win, the Armenian Eagles won 20,000 USD as prize money. The second, third, and fourth-placed teams(Chengdu Pandas, St.Louis Arch Bishops, and Direwolves) won USD 10,000, USD 4,000, and USD 2,000 respectively.

The third and fourth placed teams were decided in a match played in the morning, before the start of the final. St. Louis demolished the Direwolves 10-6.

The entire finale weekend will be remembered in chess history. It was the first time ever that such an event was organized. One could not make it out to be like a normal chess event.

The players wore headphones to cancel out the noise, while the crowd got louder and louder without disturbing them. Organised by the team, the match was streamed live on the official broadcasting partner's channel - Twitch.

TwitchTV was also the main sponsor for this epic chess weekend. The teams wore special jerseys with their logos engraved on them. The commentators wore their t-shirts too, with the official PRO Chess logo.

Famous players like GM's Hikaru Nakamura and Jon Ludwig Hammer were special guests for the games and entertained over 30,000 fans online. IM's Danny Rensch, Greg Shahade, and Anna Rudolf, also gave the viewers a chess treat by posting regular updates on their social media channels.

WFM's Alexandra Botez also entertained with her match interviews and posts. FM Mike Klein came up with innovative ideas for promoting the Championship weekender, by taking regular player interviews and writing exciting match updates.

Besides, the entire team created an entire revolution in chess as an e-sport successfully.

While the finale weekend was only one part of the drama of this season, there were other interesting aspects as well. The numerous weekly prizes like Game of the Week, Move of the Week, Social Media prizes, and more added to the excitement.

The weekly fantasy league, which had live updates to the points table, made the fans join in well. The Super Saturdays and Sundays were also new discoveries to make the league more accessible worldwide.

The league gave an opportunity for the entire globe to be a part of a mega-chess bonanza and one can only wait eagerly for the next season to begin. However, there is a mid-season break event with the All-Star Game slated to be held in June this year.

If we couldn't see an Indian team and/or player in the Championship weekend, we might still have a chance to see one in this match. For now, it's on to the All-Star Game

Edited by Akhilesh Tirumala


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