The champion of FIDE Grand Prix 2022, Hikaru Nakamura talked about his odds of qualifying for the Candidates Tour prior to the event.

The FIDE Grand Prix 2022 finally came to an end with Hikaru Nakamura claiming the crown of the event. The month-long tournament saw the Twitch Streamer stand strong through three sub-events and secured a slot in the coveted Candidates Tournament.

Whilst juggling both a streaming and competitive career, Nakamura’s performance is definitely impressive. In an interview on the final day, Hikaru Nakamura talked about his odds to qualify for the Candidates Tournament prior to the event.

Hikaru Nakamura’s unexpected win at the FIDE Grand Prix 2022

The 34-year-old Chess grandmaster came into the 2022 Grand Prix with a huge reputation, but not so when it comes to expectations.

Nakamura Wins 2021 Speed Chess Championship Final With Double-Digit  Dominance - Chess.com
Nakamura was the champion of the Speedchess Championship – Source: Chess.com

Long before he was a popular Twitch streamer, he was already one of the world’s best Chess players with the title of Blitz and Rapid King under his belt. But he was not quite the player that people expected to win the event and qualify for the Candidates Tour.  

In the last Grand Prix event, Nakamura placed 13th. He also failed to qualify for the 20/21 Candidates Tour as he did not fit any criteria to score a slot.

Prior to this tournament, Nakamura has not played Classical chess for almost 2 years and this time mode is the main format for the 2022 Grand Prix tour. His playstyle has always been more focused on Blitz and Rapid and that is likely why not many people expected his victory.

He is also the only full-time streamer among the participants. It’s not far-fetched to assume that he is not committing fully to the competitive grind. However, he proved himself this time around, defeating grandmasters in the likes of Wesley So and Alexander Grischuk to become the Grand Prix champion.

Top 10 standings for the FIDE Grand Prix 2022 – Source: Wikipedia

“There may be 10%-15% odds before everything began. I was quite fortunate.” – Hikaru Nakamura

It’s clear that not many people expected him to qualify for the Candidates Tour, but Nakamura himself stated he had pretty low chances. In an interview on the final day, Nakamura talked about his odds coming into the tournament.

Hikaru Nakamura Wins The First Leg of The FIDE Grand Prix Series 2022
Hikaru Nakamura wins the first leg of 2022 FIDE Grand Prix

“I would say there may be like.. 10 percent, 15 percent before everything began. I was quite fortunate for the first [event]. I got players who perhaps had not played as much, they weren’t as sharp. Grischuk and Bacrot specifically. Esipenko.. obviously a very strong player, but he can also win and lose a lot of games – so it’s sort of a double edge. But I felt like Bacrot and Grischuk maybe they didn’t put a lot of pressure on me in those first couple of games and then after that I sort of settled in and I played pretty well throughout both events.”

In the first tournament, Hikaru Nakamura battled it out in Pool A against Andrey Esipenko, Alexander Grischuk, and Etienne Bacrot. He stated that these players did not give him as much pressure, thus him securing the first rank in the pool. He proceeded to also win the first leg, defeating Levon Aronian.

The first leg of Grand Prix 2022 Pool A result

In the third leg of the event, he placed 2nd behind Wesley So.

“Obviously for this [third] event to win three games at the end.. I’d say the odds of that is extremely low, like 5-10% but I found a way.”

We will see Hikaru Nakamura compete in the 2022 Candidates Tour for a chance to challenge the current world champion, Magnus Carlsen. The event will begin on 16 June in Madrid, Spain.

Until then, stay tuned to Esports.gg for more updates!

Sarah Zulkiflee -

Sarah Zulkiflee

| Twitter: @kayzeesarah

High-key addicted to Dota 2. True Pos 5 player with a massive four hero pool and is a proud Ancient Apparition spammer!