The year-long chess tour that revolutionised the elite game online reaches its climax this month as 10 stars battle for the right to be called the world’s best.
The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals – the culmination of the first full season of online chess – starts on September 25.
A stellar line-up has made it through the $1.6 million tour’s nine tournaments to qualify for this event. At stake is a record prize pot of $300,000.
Topping the bill is Norway’s World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen reached the Finals having won a hat-trick of tour events. Carlsen starts with healthy head-start after he finished top of the overall leaderboard.
But he has not had it all his own way and won’t do in the decider. Carlsen was beaten twice in tournament finals by his online nemesis Wesley So.
The American then went on to win a third title in August at the Chessable Masters before Carlsen levelled his tally earlier this month in the Aimchess US Rapid.
Carlsen also crashed out of three more of the events in the knockout stages including his own eponymous Magnus Carlsen Invitational event.
A resurgent Levon Aronian, the winner of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid, also competes in his first event since moving to the US. He burst into top form in the second half of the tour.
The tour’s breakout star, in-form Russian Vladislav Artemiev, takes his place having reached the knockout stages of all three events he entered and made the finals of two of them.
He will be joined by the ever-dangerous American Hikaru Nakamura, Azerbaijan’s number 1 Shakrhiyar Mamedyarov and the top player from the Netherlands, Anish Giri.
Teimour Radjabov, the winner of the Airthings Masters, returns and finally there are two finalists who have been awarded wildcards: Poland’s chess superstar in the making Jan-Krzysztof Duda and French number 1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.
The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals opening ceremony will take place on September 24 with round 1 kicking off the following day at 17:00 CEST. The round-robin tournament will run until October 4 with a rest day on September 30.
Three European-based players, Carlsen, Giri and Duda, will compete from the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour broadcast studios in Oslo adding a hybrid element to the event. The remaining seven players will compete from their homes around the world.