Press question mark to learn the rest of the keyboard shortcuts. “It’s definitely a lot of fun to know you’re going up against a chess mind the caliber of Hikaru,” Mr. Olsen said. They’re also a person.”, Five-time chess champion Hikaru Nakamura signed by e-sports giant TSM, Here’s how to vote in this year’s Golden Joystick Awards, Twitch streamer Myth talks moving away from Fortnite, Everything to know about Amazon’s game streaming service Luna, What is FreeSync? became the go-to destination for online chess games just as Twitch saw its own rise to popularity, presenting the chance to consolidate the Chess community. Honestly, they're probably using PogChamps to determine seeding/teams for Twitch Rivals. That collision of the chess audience and the general gamer audience has created a “giant chess bonfire,” said Marcus Graham, Twitch’s head of creator development. This was the most entertaining post-game interview in this tournament yet. The best part was the chess channel saying TRUE on chat lol, More posts from the LivestreamFail community. Five years later, he became the youngest U.S. player to graduate to grandmaster, the highest title. Chess Federation, at the time of this writing. There’s a whole online subculture that lives on, Barton believes chess is popular on Twitch for the same reason as,’s Pogchamps tournaments are boosting viewership, too. Hikaru Nakamura, 32, is an American chess grandmaster, chess streamer, and one of the figures leading this renaissance. As of October 2020, it has more than 350,000. Streamers like Chessbrah, a group of masters who stream together on one channel, or Ludwig, who listens to electronic music and has a breezy personality. He was recruited by TSM, one of the largest streaming teams active today. I was laughing through that whole segment, erobb finds a way to take an L in every match. Boxbox was also pretty funny. At 15, he became one of the youngest Americans to reach the title of grandmaster. “I watch streams four to five times a week, pretty much daily,” he said. But many online battles, including nearly all the games that Mr. Nakamura streams, are blitz chess. “He draws people because he’s so good, but also, there are other top players on Twitch that are not as engaging as he is, not as funny, not as in tune with the sort of Twitch culture,” said Brandon Benton, 34, a postdoctoral physics researcher at Cornell University who watches Mr. Nakamura stream. But this time, “I don’t actually see it tailing off now. like emotes in the channels, and graphical support during streams. But 41 moves later, he was grinning after pulling off an improbable checkmate that involved charging a pawn across the board and hatching it into a queen. But in reality Ludwig got that chest hole from dangerous open heart surgery after he DIED in a boxing match. Mr. Nakamura gave himself just a moment’s respite, then plunged into another fray. Then he smiled and began outmaneuvering his foe. Mr. Nakamura has become a coach for streamers, too. An average Nakamura stream can see up to 10,000 viewers at a time. This interview was too funny to make clips with so here is the whole thing. You can find Nakamura, aka GMHikaru, on, Hikaru Nakamura / Photo courtesy of TSM e-sports, about joining TSM, said that “one thing I really want to do, is whomever I represent, try to bring home titles, bring home trophies. “But the 10,000 people watching while he dismantles you is a little nerve-racking.”.’s Pogchamps tournaments are boosting viewership, too. It helps that he has an unimpeachable chess pedigree. A lot easier to get back into it for him. This was reinforced by the man-versus-machine matchup of chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer. “At least at blitz chess, I’m probably the best or second-best player ever, in the entire history, at least online.”. “You see they’re not just a chess player. According to Nick Barton, the director of business development at, the website saw streaming as an ideal way to create a community around the game. The climax often comes when mere seconds remain and the combatants exchange a rapid flurry of moves. Press J to jump to the feed. So what else is part of the secret? started its own Twitch channel and made deals to build out more channels for casual chess fans. Copyright ©2020 Designtechnica Corporation. Vasishta Tumuluri, a 15-year-old with 10 years experience playing the game, is one of those young players. The tournaments are a competition where Twitch streamers best known for playing other games — often shooters or other action titles, like. According to, Nick Barton, the director of business development at, The collaboration between and Twitch started small. Watch Chess's clip titled "Ludwig vs. xChocobars - Pogchamps Quarterfinals with Hikaru and Alex" He's like that in League tournaments as well. On his Twitch channel, Mr. Nakamura, who lives in Los Angeles, rarely stops talking. Watch Chess's clip titled "Ludwig teaches Alex a lesson and also #ad segment" The whole tournament is for fun and exposure for the Chess community as a whole, seemed pretty obvious from the start even before it was officially announced. Hikaru Nakamura, 32, is an American chess grandmaster, chess streamer, and one of the figures leading this renaissance. Chess is usually a “silent, furious game,” and it’s refreshing to see streamers with a relaxed, cool vibe, says Tumuluri. Followers for’s Twitch channel grew from 73,000 in late 2016 to 110,000 in October 2018. There’s a whole online subculture that lives on Reddit, and in memes. Suddenly, chess was no ancient game, but a sophisticated, modern measure of intelligence. Xu said that with most tournaments moving online due to COVID-19, the chess community will only continue to grow. Ludwig's thoughts on PogChamps. The pandemic drove the largest growth ever on In a recent stream, Mr. Nakamura had fewer pieces left than his opponent and just 20 seconds remaining. As of October 2020, it has more than 350,000. Young players can now play every day and watch their favorite streamers every night. And I feel that my best opportunities to do that will be at TSM.”. Luckily the surgery went great and Ludwig would go on to sell cancer to children. These streamers introduce their own audiences to chess, which creates a domino effect, bringing more awareness to it. The chess fever sweeping Twitch has been a boon for those who make money streaming the games. All rights reserved. Wow.”. If Mr. Nakamura is as good as he says — and he is, judging from his numerous titles, various international awards and 288 victories in 302 streamed matches — then it makes sense that chess fans are tuning in. The grandmaster sometimes invites his subscribers to play against him on the stream, and he will start with fewer pieces as a handicap or play blindfolded. Upgrade your lifestyleDigital Trends helps readers keep tabs on the fast-paced world of tech with all the latest news, fun product reviews, insightful editorials, and one-of-a-kind sneak peeks.Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. “More than anything, it’s the ability to play extremely high-level chess and win while I seemingly am not focused on the game and talking to my chat,” Mr. Nakamura said of his ability to draw a large audience, which he usually retains as he plays 20 or more games in one sitting. “I’ve seen a lot of booms and busts,” he said. Since the pandemic began, viewership of live chess games has soared. Fans love when he loses his mind at a poorly thought-out move. Some of the other streamers literally played chess for the first time in these last few weeks. They often ask him questions such as "Does Ludwig Eat Cereal Out of the Hole in His Chest?" “I win again — there you go, guys. He's a big memer but his work ethic is insane when he's really into something, be it tournaments, building a streamer camp, developing indie games, etc. He has since won five national championships. Boxbox was also pretty funny. 2.0k. “In the old days, if you wanted to know what a grandmaster was thinking you’d have to read about it,” says Joshua Anderson, a 45-year-old chess journalist and teacher. Boxbox played rated chess tournaments as a child though. “Chess has remained popular on Twitch, and when we looked into it further, Hikaru is the reason why,” Leena Xu, President of Esports for TSM, said in a statement. Barton believes chess is popular on Twitch for the same reason as Super Mario Bros. speedruns. “At least at blitz chess, I’m probably the best or second-best player ever, in the entire history, at least online,” Mr. Nakamura said.