With the help of famous streamers and stars such as Hikaru Nakamura, (five-time US chess champion and the youngest person to achieve the title of “Grand Master”) chess is seeing a high spike in views on the Twitch platform. As Nakamura told Wired recently “It’s getting big exposure in a way that I don’t think has happened in a very long time.”. When it first started in 2017, Nakamura’s channel had a little less than then thousand subscribers and even fewer people watching his streams. Now, his numbers have jumped to 366,000 followers and counting as he plays chess in many different and complicated ways (such as removing queens and rooks or playing blindfolded).
Shoutout to the big streamers who’ve discovered chess. Some do it once or twice, some every single stream. Some are casual visitors to our game, some are becoming obsessed. Streamers like @xQc @BoxBox @voyboy @Papaplatte @Yassuo @nymnion Chess thanks you for all the new fans.
— Hikaru Nakamura (@GMHikaru) May 21, 2020
Along with people watching him play, Nakamura also dedicates his channel to coaching others how to play the game as well. His latest students include streamers like Felix “xQc” Lengyel, Nate Hill of the Faze Clan, and Albert “boxbox” Zheng. Together they also take part in Chess.com’s Pogchamps tournament series, which ran through until June 19th.
Currently, chess is apart of the top twenty games on Twitch, along with name stays like Fortnite and NBA 2k. As StreamElements CEO, Doron Nir, comments on the sudden spike “Twitch has a long history of chess players dating back. To its earliest days, but it wasn’t until 2017 when they partnered with Chess.com that they most prominently embraced the game of kings.” According to data analytics from Sully Gnome (provided by Stream Elements), the number of people watching chess streams has doubled every month, and even totally the number of hours watched to more than 8 million in May. There is another chess tournament that is going on currently for those that want to watch. As of now, however, there is no end date for the tournament.