World Champion Magnus Carlsen returns to the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour for the crucial last leg before next month’s Tour Final.
The Aimchess US Rapid, which starts on August 28, is the final chance for the world’s top chess stars to secure a place in the showpiece event.
Tour leaders Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So and Levon Aronian front the 16-player line-up which will see a Tour record seven players competing from the United States.
Only 10 of the 44 Tour players will qualify for the Final, which will determine the world’s best chess player across a full competitive season of online chess. It starts on September 25 and carries a $300,000 prize pot.
The Aimchess US Rapid will explore how technology has evolved the sport over the last decades and spotlight the rising popularity of online chess and streaming in recent years.
From an initial boom on Twitch and streaming platforms to the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit, chess has grown and evolved significantly over the last 18 months which saw online tournaments bring the popularity of chess broadcasting to new heights.
More than 25 million hours of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour have been watched so far in its inaugural season, already 25% more than all hours watched of chess on Twitch in 2019 with the Aimchess US Rapid and Tour Final still remaining.
Billions of chess games have been played online in 2021, and over 100 million hours of chess content have been consumed on Twitch alone, up from 37 million hours for the same period last year according to Twitch statistics service SullyGnome.
The increased popularity of chess has encouraged the entrance of new services. One such start-up is Aimchess, a fast-growing chess analytics service that was founded by 33-year-old Russian Anton Gora and joined the Play Magnus Group in May 2021.
“I am very excited that Aimchess will be featured in the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour celebrating the tremendous growth of the online chess market that I have witnessed since founding Aimchess in early 2020,” said Anton Gora, Founder and CEO of Aimchess.
Andreas Thome, CEO of Play Magnus Group, added: “We believe Aimchess fills a gap in the market, and will rapidly grow in the coming years. We are excited to dedicate a tournament of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour to showcase the capabilities of Aimchess to our audience.”