Mumbai: The Global Chess League (GCL), a joint venture between Tech Mahindra and FIDE, today unveiled the six participating franchises for its highly anticipated first edition. The league, set to revolutionise the chess ecosystem, will commence with a players' draft where franchise owners will select players for their respective teams.
The GCL aims to redefine the world of chess by bringing together the brightest stars in the game, including Viswanathan Anand, Ding Liren, Magnus Carlsen, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Hou Yifan, Kateryna Lagno, and other renowned players, alongside distinguished sports entrepreneurs as franchise owners. U SPORTS, Insurekot Sports (ISPL), Punit Balan Group, Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd., Chingari App, and APL Apollo-led SG Sports are the franchises committed to propelling the chess revolution forward. The league is scheduled to take place from 21 June to 2 July 2023, at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.
The FIDE president, Arkady Dvorkovich, said, “Tech Mahindra Global Chess League started as a dream, and as we are heading towards its actualisation, we have found the right partners who believe in the vision. We are excited that such reputed entrepreneurs have joined the ranks of GCL. We want to welcome all the owners and their teams to the GCL family and look forward to making the league a big success”.
Global Chess League board chairperson Jagdish Mitra said, "GCL, the world's first and largest official franchise league of its kind, blends traditional chess with the new era, aiming to enhance fan experience through digitization, innovation, and technology. The joint-team format, encompassing men, women, and U21 players, demonstrates our commitment to equal opportunities for all. With a cutting-edge broadcast reaching 600 million viewers in 160 countries, GCL will captivate new fans worldwide. We are delighted to have found the right partners to establish GCL's strong presence across continents and look forward to creating a lasting legacy".
Joining the GCL bandwagon are three experienced sports entrepreneurs U SPORTS, Insurekot Sports, and Punit Balan Group. They are renowned for their successful investments in various franchises across leagues. Apart from the seasoned owners, three new names, Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd., Chingari App, and APL Apollo-led SG Sports, have joined the franchise owners' ranks.
U SPORTS, led by Ronnie Screwvala, renowned for its sporting successes in sports like Kabaddi, Table Tennis, and eSports in India, will make its international debut with the upGrad Mumba Masters team in the GCL.
U Mumba & upGrad Mumba Masters CEO Suhail Chandhok said, "Chess is a sport that resonates with all of us, and being a part of something as revolutionary as the Global Chess League really does excite us at U Mumba. The collaboration between Tech Mahindra and FIDE has done an exceptional job of expanding the reach of chess to a wider audience. The star-studded lineup that the GCL promises thrilling matchups that will captivate and mesmerise spectators & we are thrilled to witness the incredible growth of this sport and proud to contribute to its flourishing future".
The second franchise of the tournament was Ganges Grandmasters, led by Insurekot Sports (ISPL), an entity owned by Suresh Kotak. ISPL also owns the Pro Kabaddi League team & Ultimate Table Tennis League team, Puneri Paltan.
Insurekot Sports Pvt. Ltd CEO Kailash Kandpal said, “We have always been dedicated to promoting sports with immense growth potential. While chess has a rich history, it has yet to establish itself as a mainstream spectator sport. GCL has the power to change that, and we eagerly wait for the league to start.”
The third in this list of illustrious owners is the Punit Balan Group (PBG) which will own the team, Balan Alaskan Knights. Led by entrepreneur, businessman and sportspreneur, Punit Balan, the Punit Balan Group has invested heavily across various sports leagues in India over the last two years and aims to contribute to India's journey of becoming the sporting powerhouse globally.
Punit Balan owner of Punit Balan Group said, “GCL is a vision that will attempt to change how Chess has been viewed and perceived globally. As a sporting brand, we at Punit Balan Group (PBG) wanted to be part of this historic milestone and represent India in the world of Chess as part of this game-changing global league. PBG supports multiple sports and Chess is a game which had its inception in India, it is something we always wanted to be part of and inspire more sporting enthusiasts to take up the game of chequered squares. We applaud the efforts of Tech Mahindra and FIDE in envisioning the League and look forward to a successful first season.”
Triveni Engineering & Industries Limited, one of the largest integrated sugar manufacturers in India and a leading player in engineering businesses comprising Power Transmission business and Water & Wastewater treatment solutions, and Triveni Turbine Limited (TTL), a focused, growing and market-leading corporation with core competency in industrial heat & power solutions and decentralized steam-based renewable turbines up to 100 MW size, make their sports debut with Triveni Continental Kings in the GCL.
Triveni Engineering & Industries Ltd., and Triveni Turbine Ltd, Chairman Dhruv M. Sawhney said, “We are excited to make our sports debut with Triveni Continental Kings in the Global Chess League (GCL). Chess is renowned for its strategic thinking and intellectual prowess that aligns perfectly with our core values. We are known for our rich legacy and nation-building initiatives through years of innovation and this venture marks another significant step in establishing global recognition for India. Our aim is to create meaningful connections with chess enthusiasts and the global chess community, nurture talent, and contribute to the growth of chess worldwide. Moreover, the association of Tech Mahindra with GCL reinforces our trust and confidence that the first-of-its-kind chess tournament will be a remarkable global success.”
Chingari App (Tech4Billion Group), the world's fastest-growing Web3 Social Networking App, whose popularity has skyrocketed since the pandemic, will also debut in the sports business with its team Chingari Gulf Titans in the GCL.
Chingari co-founder & CEO Sumit Ghosh said, “GCL lies at the intersection of celebrating the legacy of chess yet using technology to create new standards of fan engagement for the sport. At Chingari, we have always followed a similar philosophy, and hence, we have been able to bring the stories of content creation from the remotest parts. We have always envisioned foraying into sports as the ecosystem grows each day, but only GCL made us believe it is the right time to take our first step into sportspreneurship”.
The sixth in this list of illustrious owners is APL Apollo-led SG Sports, one of India's largest and most trusted building material companies, which will join the GCL bandwagon with its team SG Alpine Warriors.
Sanjay Gupta, Group Chairman said, "GCL, as a concept, will bring a new level of excitement to chess. SG Sports is honoured to be a part of the league's inaugural season, and our partnership with the league will help strengthen our position as India's leading sports brand. We are convinced by the vision proposed by Tech Mahindra and FIDE, and we look forward to a successful first season."
With a strong vision and long-term commitment to establishing a solid foundation, the Global Chess League (GCL) has unveiled plans to kick off its first two seasons with the participation of six dedicated franchises.
The annual GCL tournament will introduce a unique mixed-team format, wherein each of the six franchises will engage in a total of 10 matches played in a double round-robin style. In this exciting setup, the winner of each match will be determined through a best-of-six board scoring system, played simultaneously. The top two teams emerging from these thrilling encounters will then proceed to the final, scheduled to take place on July 2, 2023, where the ultimate honour of being crowned the World Champion franchise team awaits.