The Illini were ranked 14th in the Pan-American Championship. They upset the number 6 team to tie for first and qualify for the cup.
The orange and blue were considered the underdog with no grand masters on their team. They don't even have a coach.
"All of the players we're competing against, they're pretty well-known chess players," Freshman Eric Rosen said. "Hopefully our preparation will be good enough to maybe score a few wins or even a few draws."
The UI last played in the Pan-American Championship 20 years ago. The team won then as well.
This year's team will take on teams from the University of Texas-Dallas, Webster University in St. Louis and University of Maryland, Baltimore County at the President's Cup. It's held April 6-7 in Rockville, Maryland.