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Chess GM Hikaru opens up on how much Twitch changed his life

by Andrew Amos

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Chess Grandmaster turned Twitch superstar Hikaru Nakamura has opened up on how much streaming has changed his life, telling fans that their support has helped cull the negativity he felt in the chess community.

Hikaru is a Twitch sensation. When all the top streamers picked up Chess in droves earlier in 2020, Hikaru was the grandmaster at the center of it all.

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While he had already started pulling numbers on the streaming platform well before the ancient game’s renaissance on the platform, its popularity with streamers like Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel only helped Hikaru’s status on the platform.

Hikaru Nakamura playing Chess
Wikimedia Commons: Andreas Kontokanis
Hikaru is the number one Chess star on Twitch.

Hikaru went from chatting to hundreds of viewers daily to tens of thousands seemingly overnight. He, along with Magnus Carlsen, have helped bring some of Chess’ biggest stars to the platform. People flocked in droves to learn from the best.

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On top of that though, Hikaru managed to foster a welcoming community. Twitch chat memers and Chess enthusiasts alike join the Japanese-American to learn more about the board game.

Talking to Levy Rozman on his stream, Hikaru mentioned just how much his Twitch community means to him. After being ostracized from the chess community for so long, having a friendly environment to hang out in was life-changing.

“One thing that I think is different [between the Twitch community and Chess], in terms of the Chess world ⁠— and I’ll try to not get emotional when I say this ⁠— but for much of my career, much of my life, I’ve sort of been the bad guy,” he said.

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“I’m not someone who has been liked. Very often at times I’ve been perceived as the person that people don’t want to root for, who people don’t like.”

Hikaru’s growth on Twitch has helped him slot into the wider Chess community too. While there’s still ‘elitists’ who shame him for stooping down to help new players, he’s also gained new fans and friends from within the space.

“To have all of the support from you guys [the Twitch community] to know that there are fans who do support me, it does mean a lot, and that’s kind of the biggest difference for me with now versus much of my Chess career.”

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Having just crested the 500,000 follower mark on Twitch, the sky is still the limit for Hikaru. There’s still plenty of new viewers flocking in to see what the rage is all about, and staying on to support the Chess star through thick and thin.