The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour will be returning for a new season on Feb. 19 with a $1.6 million prize pool and a revamped format that’s set to raise the stakes.
The world’s top online chess tournament is set to feature some of the strongest players in the world. Norway’s five-time world champion Magnus Carlsen will look to defend his title in a new format for 2022.
Many changes will be made to the rulebook in 2022 to ensure every game is critical to the event. Some of these extra measures include a cash bonus for every rapid game played, as well as a system to determine points throughout the round-robin stage.
The point system will reward three points for a win and one for ending a match in a draw. This will then transition into a new winner-take-all format that will replace the two-day knockout rounds to increase the excitement for viewers in 2022.
The format in 2021 was a main focal point of criticism for the Champions Chess Tour. Many felt the format was growing stale due to certain games not mattering except for those featuring top performers like Carlsen and Wesley So. The new changes aim to create an environment for more exciting competition leading up to the final in November 2022.
“We know the players are excited about the changes we have made,” tour director Arne Horvei said. “The new season will see new rules, new faces, and also a new look for the tour – so look out for that. We hope every chess fan out there joins us for the big kick-off on February 19.”
The tournament will span across nine events instead of the 10 featured throughout 2021 where three of the events will be considered “Majors” and carry greater weight, along with more money.
The tour winner will be the player who’s amassed the largest prize on the leaderboard following the ninth and final event of the year in November.
“We are very excited to be partnering with Play Magnus Group for the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour,” said Zubair Timol, vice president EMEA Meltwater. “The previous season was a tremendous success, as chess continues to grow as a sport, with increased online viewership, enriched by social conversations across multiple platforms.”
And its viewership has really grown into a landmark for the online chess scene. The Meltwater Champions Chess Tour first began in 2020, organized by Play Magnus Group, as a way to create a new chess circuit to enhance the competitive scene. In just a brief time period, the event has grown into the richest prize pot for an online chess tournament. It has also amassed more than 115 million live broadcast views while collecting nearly 30 million watch hours throughout the series, according to the company’s press release.
With the 2022 season kicking off soon in February, the new changes to ensure a more competitive and exciting tournament are sure to raise the stakes for everyone attending. More information can be found through the Champions Chess Tour website.