The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour delivers a world first for its next event – an elite-level bitcoin chess tournament.
The star-studded FTX Crypto Cup starts on May 23 and offers a record prize pot for an online tournament of $320,000.
A cool $100,000 of that is a bonus paid in crypto by new sponsor FTX. Fans will be able to track the prize pot’s value in real-time throughout the broadcast to see how it fluctuates.
The tournament is the final Major in this season’s $1.5 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, the richest and most prestigious online chess event in history.
World Champion Magnus Carlsen will take centre stage as the current Tour leader. But he will face stiff competition in a field of 16 star names, which include all the world’s top 10.
There will be a welcome return for world number 2 Fabiano Caruana, who is playing in his first Tour event this season.
A coup for the cup
However, all eyes will be on Carlsen and his friend and rival Ian Nepomniachtchi.
This will be the first encounter between Carlsen and Nepo since the Russian was installed as the official world title challenger. Who will come out on top there?
Fan favourite Hikaru Nakamura will also be aiming roar back and topple Carlsen after his defeat in the New In Chess Classic final.
And the mercurial Russian Daniil Dubov and China’s top player Ding Liren are back among the 16-player line-up.
The FTX Crypto Cup is organised by Play Magnus Group, a global leader in the chess industry, and FTX, a leading cryptocurrency exchange.
FTX has also entered into a long-term agreement with Play Magnus Group to become its Official Cryptocurrency Exchange Partner.
Carlsen, who has reigned as world number 1 for a decade, spoke of his excitement ahead of the event.
The Norwegian said: “As a big sports fan and NBA enthusiast, I was thrilled to learn that FTX is continuing its move into sports by partnering with the Champions Chess Tour.
“The Tour has been extremely exciting both as a competitor and a fan, and I feel a renewed sense of motivation now that we’ve found a partner in FTX that shares our common goal to grow chess and the Tour.”
The FTX Crypto Cup begins
Andreas Thome, CEO of Play Magnus Group, added: “We are thrilled to announce that FTX is partnering with the Tour to bring the communities of chess fans and crypto enthusiasts together in celebration of these two fast growing industries.
“We look forward to bringing first-of-its-kind crypto-themed activations for chess and sports to our Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and broadcasts.
“For Play Magnus Group, this is a big moment as we, along with many chess players around the world, have been following cryptocurrencies for many years and are passionate about celebrating this fast-growing industry in its very own tournament, the upcoming FTX Crypto Cup.”
FTX: A new name in chess
FTX will become the Official Cryptocurrency Exchange Partner of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, as well as a presenting partner of Play Magnus Group’s coverage of the upcoming World Chess Championship in November 2021.
CEO and Founder of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried said: “Both online chess and digital finance are growing rapidly.
“Play Magnus Group has pushed the boundaries of chess and established itself as the leading professional circuit; we are thrilled to be part of this journey.”
The winner of the FTX Crypto Cup will be guaranteed a spot in the Final of the Tour in San Francisco in September.
The FTX Crypto Cup runs from May 23 to May 31 and is broadcast on TV2, Eurosport, and online streaming platforms Twitch and YouTube across multiple platforms.