Third iteration of PogChamps chess series ended at the end of February. Chess.com has doubled the tournament’s prize pool, attracted even more popular content makers, and achieved an incredible success as the event became the most popular in chess history of streaming services.
What’s special about PogChamps series?
PogChamps is one of the most unusual series among chess tournaments. Unlike professional championships, it mostly gathers a casual audience as famous content makers participate in the event. These were Twitch streamers only at first, but 3rd event also had popular YouTube personalities, as well as actors and rappers as participants.
The series was able to unite two separate worlds: chess and streaming communities. Yet not all chess players were happy about this blurring of boundaries: for example, Grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi compared the tournament to “popcorn”. But many other professionals, including Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri, were glad that chess is now interesting to the masses.
Also Read: Is chess an esports?
PogChamps took over the online chess niche at the right time as the game has been gaining popularity on Twitch over the past year. This helped bring in new players and sponsors for Chess.com: thus the prize pool for the third event in the series increased to $100,000.
The organizers also took up charity work. During the third event, Chess.com raised donations to charities chosen by PogChamps participants. The audience donated a total of $50,000 during the tournament, and the organizers added another $100,000.
Chess keeps breaking records
The 3rd PogChamps tournament turned out to be the most popular in the series by peak viewers. Prior to that, the debut championship held the record with 166.1K concurrent viewers, but PogChamps 3 collected 225% more at peak: over 375,1K concurrent viewers. And this is a record not only of the series, but of chess in general.
In 2021, chess continues to gain popularity as an esports discipline: at the moment, the top 5 by discipline includes three championships that took place in the beginning of the year. Moreover, the peak audience of PogChamps turned out to be 32% more than the maximum number of concurrent viewers of Opera Euro Rapid, which belongs to the professional chess circuit.
Top-5 chess events by Peak Viewers
Interestingly, only 2021 championships made it to the top 3. As one can see, the popularity of chess on Twitch and other streaming platforms is still rising.
The success of PogChamps 3 is not accidental, as the third event of the series turned out to be the most diverse in terms of participants (and their audience). The competition featured xQc, popular Spanish YouTube content creator Rubius, poker legend Daniel Negreanu, actor Rain Wilson, rapper Logic and various popular streamers including Pokimane, Pokimane, Tubbo, Ludwig and Myth.
Most played matches and players
XQc may not be the best chess player, but no one can match his audience. The games of the Canadian streamer, who has been the leader on Twitch for several months, gathered around 227.5K average viewers: 25% more than the closest pursuer Rubius.
Note that PogChamps 3 has achieved record performance due to the broader geography of the tournament participants. If earlier the competition was watched only by the English-speaking audience, now Spanish and French-speaking spectators joined: fans rooted for their locals like Rubius and Sardoche.
Among other English-speaking content makers, Ludwig and Tubbo were the most interesting for viewers. The American variety streamer reached the semifinals (where he lost to the future champion Sardoche), and his average audience was 147.6K viewers. British Minecraft streamer averaged 142.6K spectators.
It is not surprising that xQc participated in the most popular matches of the tournament. The peak of the competition was reached during the game between xQc and Rubius in the group stage: 375.1K viewers simultaneously watched the match.
In the final of the competition, Sardoche played against the star of "Office" TV series Rain Wilson. Frenchman won, and 75K French-speaking viewers watched the triumph of their compatriot. However, PogChamps 3 final took only 5th place among all the tournament matches if sorted by all languages.
Chess.com PogChamps series clearly proves that chess is a perfect fit for streaming services. The game continues to grow in 2021, and popular content makers are actively promoting it: shall we wait for new records during PogChamps 4?