The chess game has more than 1 thousand years of history, but even now this discipline proved that it can be interesting for modern gamers.
Today we’ll tell you about the chess success on Twitch and discuss with chess24 CEO Sebastian Kuhnert what discipline is experiencing now in terms of pandemic.
Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world champion, has won against Ian Nepomniachtchi at the finals with a 0:2 score. Their meeting during the first day gathered the Peak amount of Viewers almost 76K.
Hikaru Nakamura's Twitch broadcast was the most prominent and overtook the official stream by collecting 21K Peak Viewers.
English-speaking viewers contributed 74,4% to the total Hours Watched number. Russian audience was the second by popularity - 12,4% of HW from the overall number. The stream of grandmaster Sergei Shipov on Crestbook YouTube channel became the most famous Russian broadcast. He commented on the tournament and collected 9K viewers at the peak.
There were also Spanish, Portuguese, and German official broadcasts hosted by chess24. Regarding the platforms, Twitch and YouTube were at almost the same level, and the difference between them concluded only 400 viewers.
Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour Finals benefiting Kiva denoted the final part of the tour: four grandmaster-champions were fighting for $300,000 from August 9 to 20. These participants were Magnus Carlsen, Hikaru Nakamura, Ding Liren, and Daniil Dubov.
The battle of Hikaru and Magnus drew all viewers attention, and, as a result, all top-5 matches were with them, and 87K spectators watched them on average.
This time Hikaru Nakamura is in a significant lead. His broadcast collected 44K Peak Viewers on Twitch. At the same time, the official stream finished with the result of 37K viewers at the peak.
The official Magnus Carlsen YouTube channel has collected 23K Peak Viewers. English audience has made an immense contribution to total Hours Watched - 77,3%. Spanish audience of chess24 is in the second place - 7,2%.
Russian viewers contributed only 5,9%. Sergei "Crestbook" Shipov contributed only 7K at the peak of the broadcast because it was held on Saturday night at Moscow time, so there were fewer spectators than usual.
Chess caused unbelievable viewers' interest. The final of Magnus Carlsen tour became not only the most popular in the series but also the second most popular event in the whole discipline by Peak Viewers, giving up only to Chess World Championship 2018.
With such interest, chess players become media personalities. Hikaru Nakamura has started his Twitch channel, commented on other streamers' broadcasts, visited the new gaming Venn TV-network, signed a contract with TSM, and interacted with popular streamer Felix "xQc" Lengyel.
We've contacted chess24's CEO Sebastian Kuhnert and asked him a few questions about the discipline in general:
1. How did chess players feel about the online format of the tournaments?
They were very positive. The time control - which is very important in chess - worked out very well, it was the perfect balance between speedy thrills and spills and just enough to make it tough and push the boundaries of the game in terms of new moves and theory.
Online chess itself is nothing new, but what we did was put on a series of truly elite-level tournaments with high stakes to replace what had to be halted because of Covid-19. The prize funds were the biggest ever seen for online chess events and that, as you would expect, was a serious draw for the top players who were, in some cases, essentially out of work. So there was a lot to like about the events for the players as well as the fans.
2. After the lift of pandemic restrictions, will there be the same development of the online format as now, or will the emphasis be more on offline events?
It's still very difficult to predict what will happen with traditional offline chess tournaments, but some are beginning to make tentative steps towards trying to get back to normal. However, for online, the genie is out of the bottle now: the chess world has realised online chess can be very exciting, engaging, and it is here to stay.
We saw huge interest in the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour, so there will definitely be a new event to follow, which will be bigger and better, and it will become part of the regular chess calendar. For years the world's top chess players have been competing in similar tournaments at similar venues. Now there is a whole new dimension to the game, and we're looking forward to seeing how that pans out.
3. Will we see new media personalities from the chess world like Hikaru Nakamura? I mean, Hikaru started to develop in streaming, succeeded in it, and found his own audience. For instance, Magnus Carlsen can follow Nakamura's example and start his streaming career, as it is very promising, at least for the time of the pandemic.
I can't speak for Magnus - he will do what he wants to do, and as World Champion there will always be interest in that. But yes, we will absolutely see more chess players becoming personalities. Hikaru played on the tour and faced Magnus in the final, which was a thrilling spectacle - one of the best moments in chess I have witnessed. In the end, Magnus, in typical fashion, somehow found a way to win. But Hikaru played out of his skin.
From the start of the year, Hikaru has been building up an army of fans. He has done incredibly well and broken new ground for chess. He's not alone, though. We may see more of Magnus, and there are plenty of others who are beginning to gain a following.
Anish Giri, for example, is clever and funny - and one of the top 10 in the world. He set up a YouTube channel a few weeks ago, and almost overnight, he had 50,000 subscribers and, at the same time, released a training course on an opening called the French Defense on our sister platform Chessable, which did very well. So yes, it is all growing fast, watch this space.
Thanks to Sebastian Kuhnert for the answers, and you can find more esports stats on our social pages.