Chess Live Stream Viewership Surges

Tl;dr: The chess category on Twitch has reached all-time highs with the help of popular streamers and esports organizations signing professional players.
Chess growth Oct 20 - Feb 21

Since October 2020, chess live stream viewership has increased 408% on Twitch. Just like any other game, chess became a trend for streamers. Some have played chess their whole life but never broadcasted it while others were new to the board game. Free, online websites like Chess.com provide easy access for anyone trying to play. A low entry barrier, relaxed playstyle to read chat, and extremely high skill ceiling makes chess appealing for a lot of streamers.

Popular streamers like xQc, ludwig, and Rubius accelerated the growth of the category. In February, they all had at least 450K hours watched of strictly chess content on stream. Because of the recent growth, the chess category has been ranked around the 25th most watched category on Twitch each month. This beats games like Rocket League, Hearthstone, and Teamfight Tactics.

The growth of chess is also making an impact in the esports ecosystem. Both TSM and Envy have signed professional chess players as content creators for their organizations. GMHikaru and the Botez sisters all signed to an esports organization and have seen substantial viewership on stream as a result.

Moving forward, chess has the opportunity to be a major category on live streaming platforms. However, unique content and audience interest will play a large role in its success. So, will chess live stream viewership be the next big thing in esports or will it fade as another trend?

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