Chess grandmaster explains why Twitch is more important than the world champion title

Hikaru Nakamura (36) is one of the best chess players in the world. The grandmaster also streams quite successfully on Twitch under the name “GMHikaru” – and that apparently gives him a mental advantage in tournaments.

Who is the person you are talking about? Hikaru Nakamura has been a chess grandmaster since the age of 15 and is one of the best players in the world. The board game is surprisingly popular on Twitch. Under the name “GMHikaru,” the 36-year-old is one of the most-watched streamers in the category. On average, it reaches 7,209 viewers in the past 30 days (via SullyGnome).

On the occasion of the upcoming 2024 Candidates Tournament in Toronto, which will determine the world chess champion, GMHikaru admitted that he sees himself primarily as a streamer.

On Twitch, however, GMHikaru has to admit defeat to the LoL rager Tyler1, because he is the chess streamer of the year.

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“Makes it easier to enjoy chess”

Why is Twitch so important to the grandmaster? As GMHikaru explains, this perspective takes the pressure off him to win the tournament. All he cared about was playing interesting, good chess. Although winning is “all well and good”, the reach that he would gain from it is very small compared to streaming.

If I reached, say, 5 million people through my online content, becoming world champion would only reach a fraction of that. That’s not confidence. I’ve found another way that, for better or worse, is much more lucrative and makes it much easier to actually enjoy chess.

Hiraku Nakamura via YouTube

GMHikaru also believes that many people misunderstand content creators. Streamers are mostly very intelligent and conscious in their approach. Very little acting was done to create drama.

The chess grandmaster became big on Twitch during the Corona pandemic: He started streaming significantly more and more frequently in 2020, gained 668,655 new followers and increased his hours watched by 1,460% (via SullyGnome).

Before that, GMHikaru said in an interview, he played against the same people over and over again and chess became boring. Now, as a content creator, he enjoys the game and competitions more.

The chess streamer sums it up: “I just play, try to be good and that’s it. I think some players are under more pressure than others, but not me. I don’t really think about things like that because it’s not a big deal to me.”

How far he gets with this attitude at the World Cup will be shown from April 25th.

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