The prestigious Meltwater Champions Chess Tour is set to expand next year with its first dedicated regional offshoot in India.
The new MPL Indian Chess Tour will be held by Play Magnus Group in partnership with esports giant Mobile Premier League (MPL).
This tour, which carries a $100,000 prize pot, will be the official circuit for Indian chess players to qualify for and participate in the global Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.
It means India will be the only chess nation with its own regional expansion that can guarantee players on the elite tour, which this year carried a dazzling total prize pot of $1.6 million.
Together with MPL, Play Magnus Group now aims to bring the tour’s innovative online format to India permanently and encourage new growth in the game across the region.
Already, an impressive seven Indian players have participated in the 2021 season of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. They included Indian Women’s Champion and #1 Rated Female Rapid player Humpy Koneru, Grandmaster stars Vidit Gujrathi, Pentala Harikrishna and Baskaran Adhiban, as well as under-18 prodigies Praggnanandhaa, Gukesh D and Arjun Erigaisi.
Chance for Indian players to shine
Andreas Thome, CEO of Play Magnus Group, said: “India is a fast-growing market for chess and the MPL Indian Chess Tour is a fantastic opportunity for young Indian players to shine on both this new national circuit and the global Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.”
Sai Srinivas, Co-Founder and CEO of MPL, added: “Our objective at MPL is to grow the esports industry by making it more accessible and inclusive. This partnership with Play Magnus Group furthers our commitment by bringing one of the world’s biggest chess initiatives to India and taking it to the masses.
“We have a lot of talented players in the country and the MPL Indian Chess Tour will help provide them with a stage to showcase their skills and also give them an opportunity to compete at an international level. We look forward to expanding this association in the future to offer unique gaming experiences to all our MPL users.”
India is undergoing a chess boom, with 49 of the country’s 69 Grandmasters earning their titles since 2010. The future looks strong for Indian chess given the country’s rising number of young stars.
Indian players also make up 25% of the player field at the Julius Baer Challengers Chess Tour, a series of online tournaments launched by PMG along with Chess legends Judit Polgar and Vladimir Kramnik, that spotlights emerging talent and promotes gender equality in Chess. They have won two of three tournaments so far, earning them invitations to the global Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.
The tour will comprise four online tournaments followed by a Final where the winner will be crowned MPL Indian Chess Tour Champion 2022. The matches will be streamed on chess24, chess24india and MPL’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
MPL will conduct four qualifiers on its platform where each winner will receive entry to each tournament and compete against top Indian GMs in the MPL Indian Chess Tour.
The winner of each tournament will receive an invitation to the multi-million dollar Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and an opportunity to play against the world’s best chess players including World Chess Champion and highest rated player of all time, Magnus Carlsen.
The total prize money for the MPL Indian Chess Tour will be $100,000.
Avadh Shah, Vice President – Esports, MPL said: “The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour has cemented its position as one of the most prestigious chess events in the world and we are excited to partner with Play Magnus Group to bring this to India through the MPL Indian Chess Tour.
“Chess is one of the top games on MPL and the previous tournaments we have organised have seen lakhs of players compete. We are sure this tour will also be a huge hit among all our gamers and viewers.”
Sunil Kamath, Regional Vice President, APAC at Play Magnus Group added: “We are excited to partner with MPL and bring this exciting tour for our immensely talented Indian chess players.
“India is the first country to have a domestic circuit of the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and MPL is our exclusive partner for the same.”