As chess has surged in popularity on Twitch, so have some of the timeless game's more charismatic professional players, like sisters Alexandra and Andrea Botez.
Chess has existed in some form since the 6th century, with the standardization of its pieces coming in the 15th century and its rules in the 19th century. But the ancient game hadn’t fared well competing for views on Twitch until March 2020, when growth became substantial before turning exponential in May. The Botez sisters have been key to its surge.
“This is how you play chess, buddy” pic.twitter.com/efT5hO9moA
— Alexandra Botez (@alexandravbotez) May 6, 2020
Alexandra and Andrea are funny, engaging, and absolute savages on the chess board. While the chess community has been lambasted as elitist for gate-keeping against casuals, the Botez sisters feel like real people who just want to help the community grow (and maybe roast people, or themselves, along the way).
Alexandra, the older of the two, is just 24 years old but already an established force within the chess community, boasting the Woman FIDE Master title and numerous championships dating back to her time with the National Canadian Team as a 15-year-old.
Andrea, conversely, is just out of high school and devoid of international chess recognition despite being a talented player herself, with national competitions and some prize money under her belt. Together, they’re talented enough to help tutor celebrities like Hafthor “the Mountain” Bjornsson, but also humble enough to engage with their communities outside of the chess board.
That dynamic exemplifies the meteoric rise of chess on Twitch. The intrinsic qualities of chess, with its high skill-ceiling and steep learning curve, are not foreign to Twitch users. However, the game has lacked the interest of popular streamers and community engagement from skilled players. That changed in May 2020 when Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura decided to take the infamous Felix “xQc” Lengyel under his wing.
Often working alongside Nakamura, whether by providing tutelage, competing, or simply commentating in a burgeoning online chess scene, the Botez sisters have carved out a tremendous niche. Their channel has since gone from about 73,000 followers in May to near 250,000.
With Twitch popularity dictated by both in-game talent and the ability to foster community, Alexandra and Andrea’s ability to mesh technical superiority with community engagement is unparalleled in chess. While Hikaru can be hilarious himself (especially when he’s dryly poking fun at players), the Botez sisters are entrenched in the platform’s culture and are avid propagators of the memes and conversations that help develop a fanbase with a foundation not solely built on raw chess skill.
Whether it’s dissecting chess matches, trying out games like Griftlands, or simply talking with (or roasting) their peers and fans on Just Chatting, the Botez sisters prove how much stronger your community can become when top players don’t take themselves too seriously.