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Chess GM Hikaru slams 'elitist' community after xQc Twitch co-stream

by Andrew Amos
Blizzard Entertainment / Wikimedia Commons: Andreas Kontokanis

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Grandmaster chess player-turned-Twitch extraordinaire Hikaru Nakamura has defended fellow streamer Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel in his attempt to pick up the classic board game, saying “the chess world needs to get with the times.”

Chess has been taking Twitch by storm over the last few weeks, and Japanese-born American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura has been at the forefront of that rise.

The 32-year-old five-time U.S. Chess Champion has peaked at rank two in the world, and currently sits in the top 20.

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He’s putting his skill to use by bringing chess to a wider audience, streaming on Twitch to tens of thousands of fans daily.

It’s got the interest of certain streamers like former Overwatch pro xQc. The French-Canadian star has been looking at picking up the board game, taking lessons from Hikaru while streaming alongside the Grandmaster.

However, xQc and Hikaru’s antics have been somewhat criticized by the wider chess community. Some believe that the Grandmaster is wasting his time on the Twitch star, but he has rubbished those claims, saying the chess community needs to be taken down a peg.

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Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
xQc has been picking up Chess on stream to varying success.

“If I look at xQc, I’ll tell you what the reaction is. The classic chess world will just say ‘this guy is no good at chess, he’s so bad, why do we waste our time?,’” he said on May 21. “[This] is absolute rubbish obviously.”

He compared his successes in chess to xQc’s in Overwatch. Lengyel has represented Canada at the Overwatch World Cup, played in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League for the Dallas Fuel, and has consistently placed well on the ranked ladder.

His achievements are nothing to be scoffed at ⁠— and if Hikaru was in xQc’s shoes in trying to pick up a new hobby, he’d fail miserably at the start too.

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“xQc, first of all, without talking of him as a streamer, he was a grandmaster in Overwatch. I’m sorry, but if you put me playing Overwatch for I don’t care how long, or you put Magnus [Carlsen, the number one ranked chess player in the world] ⁠— we would be total noobs. That’s just a fact.”

Hikaru also claimed that “the chess world needs to get with the times” and be welcoming to new players.

xQc still has a long way to go to improving in the 1,500-year-old board game, but with a Grandmaster like Hikaru by his side, he’s bound to pick up the pieces sooner rather than later.

As for Hikaru, maybe he should give Overwatch a try on stream, and ask the former pro for some tips too.