TSM fans are hype about the esports organization’s newest signing, but it’s not what many people may have expected to hear.
TSM recently announced that chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura is signing on with the esports organization not only to stream, but also to compete.
“One thing I really want to do is bring home titles, bring home trophies. TSM is my best chance to do that,” Nakamura said.
A chess prodigy at 15 years old, now a 5-time U.S. champion and highest-rated blitz player in the world.
Welcome to TSM, @GMHikaru 🤝
📺: https://t.co/6iVNHawicZ pic.twitter.com/fpDzuc6Fqw
— TSM (@TSM) August 27, 2020
Hikaru has been playing chess since he was just seven years old. He became the youngest master in America at age 10, breaking the standing record at the time. But he wasn’t just a child prodigy. Hikaru continued to dominate in chess, winning the national championship five times, the third-most of any chess player in history.
Hikaru also beat Bobby Fisher’s 1958 record of becoming the youngest ever grandmaster when he turned 15. The dominant competitor is currently the number one ranked Blitz Chess player in the world.
“I’m just the best,” Hikaru joked with a laugh.
Chess becomes popular in esports and streaming
To some, this may seem like a random signing from TSM, but chess has actually become very prominent in the gaming community. In June, chess had a major tournament streamed on Twitch, featuring Hikaru and other talented chess players as well as popular streamers, including xQc, Voyboy, and Forsen.
While the streaming community was fascinated with the competitive crossover, the tournament was actually born from drama in the chess world.
When well-known streamers like Felix “xQc” Lengyel had started taking up chess, their large followings led them to occupy the top spots in the chess category on Twitch. This made some of professional and amateur chess players frustrated, since xQc and other newcomers to the game weren’t as skilled at chess as them.
These players felt that it was almost a mockery of the game. But Hikaru came to the streamers’ defense, saying that bringing chess to the mainstream and making it more accessible is very important.
Shoutout to the big streamers who’ve discovered chess. Some do it once or twice, some every single stream. Some are casual visitors to our game, some are becoming obsessed. Streamers like @xQc @BoxBox @voyboy @Papaplatte @Yassuo @nymnion Chess thanks you for all the new fans.
— Hikaru Nakamura (@GMHikaru) May 21, 2020
This was a stance that made sense for Hikaru. A very skilled chess player, Hikaru was also getting into streaming. He started collaborating with xQc and other streamers, helping Hikaru to become the top chess channel on Twitch. He is now a popular figure in the streaming world, getting a lot of views on Twitch and YouTube for his entertaining and informative broadcasts.
Neither Hikaru nor TSM have stated exactly what he will be doing for the team besides streaming and competing, but it seems that Hikaru is looking to continue dominating both the chess scene and Twitch.