Since the advent of published FIDE Blitz ratings, Nakamura has graced the top of the list, demonstrating inimitable acuity and speed. In 2015, the American GM won the Gibraltar Chess Masters tournament, captured his fourth U.S. Championship, first place at the Millionaire Chess Open, and propelled his classical FIDE rating to a career high of 2814. 2016 also proved to be a fruitful year for Naka as he repeated first place finishes at the Gibraltar Chess Festival and the Zurich Chess Challenge. In 2017, Hikaru won his third consecutive Gibraltar Chess Festival. and he won the 2018 Grand Chess Tour. This year, Naka regained his title of U.S. Champion, defeating a field with four other 2700+ players. Hikaru has performed well at previous Champions’ Showdowns, taking out Peter Svidler in last year’s Chess 960 event and soundly defeating Jan Duda earlier this year.
Fabiano Caruana is the #2 highest rated player in the world since May of 2018, distancing himself from his rivals in the top 10. His list of achievements continues to grow with each year that passes. In 2014 Fabiano placed second behind Magnus Carlsen in the World Rapid Championship and went on to win the Sinquefield cup with a remarkable score of eight and a half out of ten. In early 2015, after playing as a member of the Italian Chess Federation, Caruana rejoined the United States Chess Federation as one of its strongest members. In the past two years, Caruana has won his first U.S. Championship, placed second at Tata Steel, played first board for the gold medal winning U.S. team at the 42nd Chess Olympiad, and won the 2017 London Chess Classic. He had a phenomenal showing in 2018 winning the Grenke Chess Classic, Norway Chess and tying for first in the Sinquefield Cup with Carlsen and Aronian. Caruana won the 2018 Candidates tournament thus becoming the first American to challenge the World Champion in a unified match in 46 years.
Originally from the Philippines, Wesley came to the U.S. in August of 2012 where he enrolled at Webster University. After the move, he quickly leapt from being a top 100 player to one of the top ten worldwide, leading his school to back-to-back national titles along the way. In October 2014, GM So took first place at the inaugural Millionaire Open and then returned to Saint Louis to lead the Arch-Bishops to their first ever Pro Chess League Championship. Wesley then participated in his first elite tournament, securing the fourth place prize at the 77th Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Holland. The following year he returned and tied for second place, just a half-point behind Magnus. 2016 saw the American GM earn first place in the Grand Chess Tour by winning the Sinquefield Cup and the London Chess Classic. He represented the US in the 2016 Olympiad, winning team gold and individual gold on board three. In 2017 Wesley won the Tata Steel Masters tournament and became the eleventh player in history to surpass 2800 FIDE. He was crowned the 2017 U.S. Champion after defeating Alexander Onischuk in the playoffs.
Levon Aronian is an Armenian chess hero. He has been the leading Armenian chess player since the early 2000’s and has enjoyed great success on the international level. Aronian was the winner of the Chess World Cup in 2005. He has also led the Armenian national team to three gold medals in Chess Olympiads (Turin 2006, Dresden 2008, Istanbul 2012) as well as to gold at the World Team Chess Championship in 2011. He won the FIDE Grand Prix 2008–2010. He was also World Rapid Chess Champion in 2009 and World Blitz Chess Champion in 2010. Recently, Aronian tied for first and became a co-champion of the 2018 Sinquefield Cup, and won the 2019 Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz in clear first place.
Leinier is a Cuban born super grandmaster, earning the title in 2001. He is a five-time Cuban Champion, earning the titles in 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012 and 2016. He competed in two FIDE World Championship, reaching the quarterfinals in 2004 where he lost to Teimour Radjabov in tiebreaks. He won the Capablanca memorial for the first time the same year, and two more times after that in 2008 and 2009. In 2013 he won the FIDE Grand Prix event in Thessaloniki ahead of the likes of Caruana, Nakamura and Topalov, earning 30 rating points. The following year, he reached his peak FIDE rating of 2768. His current rating of 2763 puts him in the top 10 list of the strongest players in the world. Leinier has represented Cuba on board one at the Olympiad for many years, earning a silver medal in the 2016 Olympiad in Baku. He is also a former World Blitz Champion, winning the title in 2013 in Kazakhstan. Dominguez is a familiar face in Saint Louis, having participated in previous editions of the Champions Showdown as well as a wildcard in the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. He was part of the team that assisted Fabiano Caruana during the 2018 Candidates tournament and the 2018 World Championship Match. He officially switched federations in December of 2018 and competed in the 2019 US Championships.
Svidler is an astounding 8 time Russian Chess Champion, winning as recently as 2017. He also has represented the Russian Olympiad team 10 times helping his team win the gold medal in his first five appearances. By winning the 2011 Chess World Cup, he qualified for the Candidates stage of the 2013 World Championship cycle. In that event, Peter soundly defeated the eventual World Champion, Magnus Carlsen. Svidler is also world-renowned chess commentator. He has given live commentary on important events such as the 2018 World Chess Championship, occasionally being joined by other elite players such as Anish Giri and Alexander Grischuk. He is returning to the Champions Showdown this year where he has the task of defeating Leinier Dominguez.
The Bulgarian No. 1 became the FIDE World Chess Champion by winning the FIDE World Chess Championship in 2005. He lost his title in the 2006 World Chess Championship match against Vladimir Kramnik and was also narrowly defeated by Vishy Anand in their match for the World Chess Championship title in 2010. Topalov has competed at nine Chess Olympiads (1994-2000, 2008-2016), winning in Linares, Corus, Dortmund, Stavanger and Pearl Spring tournaments. At his 1994 appearance, Topalov won best overall performance.
Garry Kasparov is a chess legend known worldwide for his beautiful attacking style and ruthless technique. Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at age 22 by defeating then-champion Anatoly Karpov. As world champion, he was known for his aggressive attacking style. In 1996 and 1997, Kasparov played the IBM supercomputer, Deep Blue, in a series of highly publicized matches. From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked World No. 1 and is considered by many to be the greatest chess player in history.