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One of the oldest games in existence, chess, is seeing a huge resurgence on Twitch and other platforms. Dating back 1,500 years, the strategy game is picking up serious steam on Twitch, YouTube and other sites because of surprising partnerships between popular streamers and chess competitors on the platform.
While the chess category on Twitch doesn’t see the numbers that Call of Duty: Warzone or Fortnite earn, it still holds a respectable number throughout the day. The category has hovered in the top 20 on Twitch for the past few months with around 15,000 to 30,000 viewers at any given time.
Prior to the end of 2020, the category was mostly filled with renowned chess streamers. Channels like Hikaru Nakamura, GothamChess, BotezLive and Chess.com were responsible for a large amount of the viewership day-in and day-out.
However, when Netflix released its hit limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” in October, people around the world began to become enamored with chess. More and more broadcasters started to learn how to play live on stream. Huge names like Imane “Pokimane” Anys, Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson and Jimmy “HighDistortion” Moreno all started to play chess.
Pokimane even took a live lesson from Grandmaster chess player and TSM member Hikaru Nakamura. Nakamura also played MrBeast in several games live on Twitch.
To coincide with this spike, esports organizations are taking notice and signing chess streamers. TSM signed Nakamura earlier in 2020, and Envy Gaming signed the Botez sisters to round out the year. It’s clear that organizations see the massive potential that chess has on content creation platforms.
Joey Carr is a full-time writer for multiple esports and gaming websites. He has 6+ years of experience covering esports and traditional sporting events, including DreamHack Atlanta, Call of Duty Championships 2017, and Super Bowl 53.