Chess pawn stars could be the next kings and queens of esports

The grandmasters are going online. And they’re making old-school chess look like checkers. NBC News reports that a new breed of chess champions is using Twitch, the livestreaming platform, to reach big audiences — and maybe even make money. If only Bobby Fischer could see them now Compared to video games, the audience for streaming […]


February 17, 2020

chess image

The grandmasters are going online. And they’re making old-school chess look like checkers.

NBC News reports that a new breed of chess champions is using Twitch, the livestreaming platform, to reach big audiences — and maybe even make money.

If only Bobby Fischer could see them now

Compared to video games, the audience for streaming chess games is small — but growing fast.

  • Time spent watching chess has shot up 500+% since 2016, according to Twitch data.
  • In 2017, Twitch teamed up with Chess.com — which has around 33m members — to promote chess streaming.
  • A company called Chessbrah has 6 full-time programmers for its Twitch and YouTube channels.
  • Alexandra Botez is one of the most well-known streamers — she has 60k+ Twitch followers.

Botez is famous for pioneering a power move called the Botez Gambit — screwing up and accidentally losing your queen. (Look, ma, we’re just like the pros!)

But checkmate ≠ checks, mate

Making money off the game can be difficult — even for the most decorated knights of the chess board. 

In some years, a world championship hasn’t been held because there isn’t enough sponsorship money.

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