The Global Chess League, scheduled to take place from June 21st to July 2nd, 2023 at the Dubai Chess & Culture Club, held its first draft for its highly anticipated inaugural edition in Mumbai.
The draft witnessed the selection of 36 of the world’s best chess players, who were drafted by six GCL franchises: Ganges Grandmasters, Triveni Continental Kings, SG Alpine Warriors, Chingari Gulf Titans, upGrad Mumba Masters and Balan Alaskan Knights.
The players were divided into four categories: ICONS, Superstars Men, Superstars Women, and Prodigies.
In a thrilling bidding process, Magnus Carlsen, the Five-time World Chess Champion and the top-ranked player in the world was selected by the SG Alpine Warriors.
The five-time World Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand, joined the Ganges Grandmasters. The current World Champion, Ding Liren was drafted by Triveni Continental Kings.
Other notable selections included Grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda by Chingari Gulf Titans and Grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi by Balan Alaskan Knights. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave joined upGrad Mumba Masters as their ICON player.
The Global Chess League will showcase an intense competition as each of the six franchises will engage in a double round-robin format, playing a total of 10 matches.
“I am sure that GCL will be a game-changer, and I look forward to getting together with my teammates in Dubai and competing for the crown.”Grandmaster Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime on joining upGrad Mumba Masters
The matches will be decided using a best-of-six board scoring system, played simultaneously, adding an extra layer of excitement to the tournament.
The top two teams emerging from the league will advance to the final, scheduled for July 2nd, 2023, where the coveted title of World Champion Franchise Team will be awarded.
To ensure the smooth progress of the tournament, there are 3 Chess players who have been chosen as reserve players who will be assigned to the particular team in case, due to any unforeseen circumstances, the current squad member/s cannot participate.
How was the draft done?
In the draft, each team was allocated a total of 1000 points to be used while choosing players from categories two, three and four, barring the ICONS. The ICON players were selected for the team based on a preferential draft system.
After the ICONs, Superstar men were drafted in, followed by Superstar women and prodigies. Every team comprises of six players – one ICON, two male and female ‘Superstars’ each and one prodigy.
Yifan the highest bid among both Superstar men and women
World’s top-ranked women’s Chess Grandmaster Hou Yifan became the highest points bid in the first edition of the drafts among both Superstar Men & Women categories.
Grandmaster Yifan’s services were acquired as much as 470 points and picked up by the Ganges Grandmasters. Along with Grandmaster Yifan, they picked up Grandmaster Bella Khotenashvili.
“With the draft finally concluding, we are up for an exciting contest in Dubai. I am happy to know that I was the highest-bid player among the three categories,” Yifan said.
“I am looking forward to being on the same team as Viswanathan Anand and also to have the likes of Richárd Rapport, Leinier Domínguez, Bella Khotenashvili, and Andrey Esipenko on our team; I eagerly look forward to this year’s championship.”
upGrad Mumba Masters picked up the Indian pair of Koneru Humpy & Harika Dronavalli at 360 & 330 points, respectively.
Among Superstar Men, Ganges Grandmasters picked up Richárd Rapport & Leinier Domínguez Pérez while SG Alpine Warriors got its favoured pick of the Indian duo of Gukesh D & Arjun Erigaisi.
Triveni Continental Kings picked up their favoured grandmasters in Wei Yi & Yu Yangyi, whereas upGrad Mumba Masters got their preferred combination of Alexander Grischuk & Vidit Gujrathi.
Speaking about being drafted into upGrad Mumba Masters, Grandmaster Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime said, “It’s a matter of pride for me to be a part of team upGrad Mumba Masters. I am sure that GCL will be a game-changer, and I look forward to getting together with my teammates in Dubai and competing for the crown.”
Praggnanandhaa the most in-demand prodigy
Praggnanandhaa R became the highest-bid player in the U21 category, at 290 points, bid by the SG Alpine Warriors.
Nihal Sarin went to Chingari Gulf Titans, whereas Andrey Esipenko went to Ganges Grandmasters in a lucky draw after receiving an equal point bid by the Triveni Continental Kings. While Jonas Buhl Bjerre was picked by Triveni Continental Kings.
“From being on opposite sides of the table with most players to being on the same team, I am excited to meet my teammates and see how we can make the most of this experience and apply it to future competitions,” Praggnanandhaa said.
Final Squads after the draft:
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