Team SoloMid have signed Chess Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura to their team, inviting him to compete, stream, and bring more trophies to the celebrated esports organization.
Nakamura has been a sensation in the Chess landscape for decades, so it’s fitting for him to join one of the most heralded North American teams in the industry. However, the timing is no mistake.
The centuries-old strategic board game has been having somewhat of a reawakening on Twitch, where thousands of younger audiences have been catching on to the brilliant competitors-turned-streamers on the platform.
In an unexpected signing on August 27, TSM are cementing their position in the larger competitive Chess arena by adding the five-time United States Chess Champion among their ranks.
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
“One thing I really want to do is, whomever I represent, try to bring home titles, bring home trophies,” he said of the signing. “I feel that my best opportunity to do that will be at TSM.”
Like the organization that will now be sponsoring the player in events and title games, Nakamura has a history of being the best in his field.
During his rise, he became the youngest competitor to ever become a chessmaster, international master, and then grandmaster. His place in the grander world of competitive chess had already been imprinted long before the August announcement.
He’s the number one player in the world at Blitz chess, a variant on the historic game that adds an intense time-crunch pitting players against each other and the clock.
But the last two years has also made Nakamura the number one chess streamer on Twitch. His popularity exploded outside of the constrained environments of competitions, where his name would only spread by indoor voices from chess enthusiasts.
At the turn of 2019, his presence on Twitch steadily grew in the oft-forgotten annals of the streaming site’s Chess category. But then early 2020 catapulted him and chess as a whole.
Where he would average around 600-2000 viewers in the first phases of 2019, he now easily pulls in 6000 people or more per stream, peaking at around 28,000 during the inaugural Chess.com PogChamps event in early June.
Thrust into the limelight, people like Nakamura, sisters Alexandra and Andrea Botez, Robert Hess, and more brightly shined; combining intricate, thoughtful approaches to the game paired with incredible personalities to invite newcomers.
Now TSM will be working with him to propel him to even greater heights in their respective industries for one of the more intriguing collaborations in recent memory.