Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So pocketed the Most Valuabe Player (MVP) award after carrying the Saint Louis Arch Bishops to championship in the 2017 Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League (formerly United States Chess League).
The Saint Louis Arch Bishops posted a 3-1 win over the Norway Gnomes in the finals to secured the $20,000 top purse in the tournament participated by more than 400 players and 48 teams from five continents.
“We’re world champions. I have a great team. This is a huge, huge win for us,” said So in an interview posted at the tournament’s official website.
So scored three victories over Norway Gnomes’ FIDE Master (FM) Sebastian Mihajlov in the opening round, FM Joachim Nilsen in the second and GM Kjetjl Lie in the third before bowing to former world champion GM Magnus Carlsen in the final round.
Nonetheless, So finished with three points to secure the MVP plum and the $2,500 cash prize.
The other members of the Saint Louis Arch Bishops team were GM Varuzhan Akobian, GM Ben Finegold and National Master Nicholas Rosenthal.
“Wesley, the best chess player on earth, was totally awesome every match and always made the team confident of victory,” stressed Finegold.
The Saint Louis Arch Bishops made it to the finals by ousting Montreal Chessbrahs in the semifinals, Webster Windmills in the quarterfinals and San Diego Surfers in the second round. The team had an opening round bye.
So will be seeing action next in the prestigious 2017 US Chess Championship beginning on Thursday (Wednesday in the US).
In the first round, So takes on GM Alexander Shabalov then GM Samuel Shankland in the second, GM Fabiano Caruana in the third, GM Alexander Onischuk in the fourth, GM Yaroslav Zherebukh in the fifth, Akobian in the sixth, GM Ray Robson in the seventh, GM Hikaru Nakamura in the eighth, GM Jeffrey Xiong in the ninth, GM Gata Kamsky in the 10th and GM Daniel Naroditsky in the 11th.