Esports organization TSM has signed their first professional chess player, Hikaru Nakamura. He’s a US grandmaster, a five-time champion, and was the youngest American to achieve this rank when he was 15 years old. Along with being renowned as one of the best chess players in the world, Nakamura is a popular Twitch streamer in his own right. He’s regarded as a leader when it comes to establishing chess on the live streaming platform, where he has more than 500,000 followers. When news broke that he had signed to TSM, he was actually live on stream to more than 18,000 people.
A chess prodigy at 15 years old, now a 5-time U.S. champion and highest-rated blitz player in the world.
— TSM (@TSM) August 27, 2020
Nakamura often plays digital versions of chess on stream, but the actual board game is his real bread and butter. One of his most prominent sponsors, Chess.com, partnered with Twitch to forward the game’s presence on the site. Nakamura has coached other well-known professionals as well as streamers like Tfue and helped organize tournaments to bring chess to a larger stage on the platform. With chess being one of the longest-standing professional games that isn’t traditionally physical, it makes sense for TSM to ingratiate itself into that world. Fellow esports organization, Cloud9, appeared to be inspired by TSM’s signing of Nakamura and directed a tweet at Magnus Carlsen; who happens to be the highest-ranked chess player in the world.
— Cloud9 (@Cloud9) August 27, 2020
Nakamura is right up there with Carlsen, with a peak rank of 2 back in October of 2015. He still ranks among the best in the world, with his last recorded position being May of this year at 18. His recent TSM signing and Twitch initiatives will surely forward the bond between esports and chess.