Chess Grandmaster turned Twitch streamer Hans Niemann is under fire from fans after he refused to pay a small entry fee to participate in a charity tournament.
Niemann is one of the top chess players on Twitch and has really benefited from the rise in popularity of the board game on the platform. Now, he’s sparked controversy after some IRL antics over an entry fee turned his own viewers against him.
During a May 20 broadcast from New York City where he competed against other players in the park, he caught wind of a tournament happening during the weekend and seemed interested in joining.
Right away, however, the confident Niemann seemed more interested in the prize money than other details of the tournament, such as it being played with Blitz rules.
“It’s 75% to the winner, 25% for second place,” the tournament organizer explained.
While the streamer seemed down, when talk of an entry fee came up, things got a bit heated, with Niemann insisting that GMs don’t pay a fee.
“Grandmasters don’t pay entry fee, man!” he beamed. “That’s a thing!”
Originally, the tournament organizer seemed defiant, but soon tried to compromise by giving him a fifty percent discount, but it was just scoffed at by the streamer.
“My eight years of work to Grandmaster means nothing then,” he dismissed. “It should mean a free entry, because that’s what every tournament organizer does.”
“Half the proceeds are donated to charity!” the TO blasted back, trying to get the GM on board.
“I didn’t know it was charity, but still. It’s just a matter of respect,” he replied.
Eventually, the TO tried to talk Niemann down to a mere $2.50 fee or he paid 50% with it all going to charity, but even that wasn’t enough.
By this time, Niemann’s viewers were turning against him, calling his use of the GM card an “ass move,” but he doubled down on his position.
“I don’t care if it’s charity, Grandmasters don’t care,” he told chat. “I’m not going to hear your charity bulls**t. Like, hello? It’s not an ego thing. If you’re an over-the-board chess player you understand. F**k off.”
“You little online idiots don’t know what chess etiquette is!” he continued. “It’s not an ego thing! Oh my God!”
While the chess player stuck to his guns, it’s easy to see why fans were critical of him and kept their pressure on. In the end, the incident ended in a bit of a stalemate that felt more like a loss for viewers, the TO, and the annoyed Niemann.