Team SoloMid has widened its roster with the addition of Hikaru Nakamura, its first professional chess player. Nakamura has been a key figure in helping grow chess’ presence on Twitch, and uses his channel not only to play but to explain various strategies to his followers. Now, he’ll be doing all that under TSM colours.
Nakamura rose to the rank of chess Grandmaster aged just 15, making him the youngest American ever to do so. He has won the US Championships five times, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest players in the world. He and Magnus Carlsen are thought of as the two best living grandmasters.
Nakamura, who also works as a coach, helped get Chess.com partnered with Twitch in 2017, and currently has over half a million followers on the platform.
It’s Nakamura’s style of chess which is especially suited to Twitch. While chess is typically played in slow and methodical moves, calculated out to infinity, there are many other forms. Rapid chess and Blitz chess both seek to up the pace by requiring moves to be played against a stopwatch; Nakamura has held the world number one ranking in both of these sports previously, and is currently still at number one for blitz while occupying the number four sport for rapid.
A chess prodigy at 15 years old, now a 5-time U.S. champion and highest-rated blitz player in the world.
— TSM (@TSM) August 27, 2020
Chess’ online audience has been steadily growing for a while now, and with an org like TSM behind him, Hikaru will surely hope this move can help it become even bigger in the streaming scene.
Yet more chess pros could sign for top teams too, especially if Hikaru’s signing is a success. Cloud9 and Fnatic both coyly tagged Magnus Carlsen on Twitter in the wake of the news.
Bring it on🎮 pic.twitter.com/eLwSUwwMgE
— Magnus Carlsen (@MagnusCarlsen) August 27, 2020
Carlsen even replied to Fnatic, saying ‘Bring it on’, but Fnatic’s social media manager then quipped ‘I don’t usually get this far’, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens next.