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Chess in Esports: How Grandmasters are Dominating Online Competitive Scenes


For those familiar with esports events and tournaments, chess tournaments may not be the first thing you think about when you think of global esports tournaments. However, some chess grandmasters have enjoyed glory both on the board and on the screen. In 2023, chess became part of a global sports competition — specifically, the Olympics Esports Series (OES) — supported by and the International Chess Federation (FIDE).


42,000 players from 219 countries participated in qualifying events, with the top eight competing directly in Singapore for the Series Finals. The group of eight included seven grandmasters, one of whom was a Singapore wildcard and a female wildcard who was an international master. In the final, grandmaster Alexey Sarana triumphed against eventual silver trophy winner Maksim Chigaev, winning all three games to claim the victory.


In fact, chess, technology, and the Internet have long shared an intricate relationship, culminating in exciting chess esports tournaments. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the history of chess and technology and how online chess and competitions introduced flexibility and a new layer to the sport.

Chess, technology, and esports

man, robot, chess

The dawn of early computers quickly revolutionized chess as a hobby and sport. In our previous post, we highlighted this relationship between chess and technology. Programmers quickly learned that computers could be chess-playing machines, and later down the line, the evolution of AI influenced chess coaching and analysis. This included deep analysis, uncovering new chess opening strategies, and enabling the study of complex endgames.


Of course, for devoted esports fans, watching a virtual or digital chess tournament may feel vastly different from the usual esports titles, such as MOBAs Dota 2 or League of Legends, or shooters like Counter-Strike and Call of Duty. However, digital chess can be intense and exciting to watch, especially because it’s often easier for spectators and viewers to see what’s happening on the digital board than in real-life tournaments. As we expect more digital chess to penetrate official sports events like the Olympics, we may see chess become an integral area of esports.


Esports viewerships have historically been undermined when compared to traditional sports events. However, by combining sports competitions with video games such as chess, fans of chess players — whether amateur or grandmasters — can better show their support.


Aside from viewership, esports has a thriving betting scene where viewers can place bets on favored players. Traditional sports fans and bettors familiar with traditional sports betting can learn esports betting tips to better acquaint themselves with more distinct aspects of esports betting, like betting odds and tournament structures. As with traditional chess events, viewers and bettors also have much to learn about specific games and outcomes from listening to commentaries and casting.

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Esports viewerships have historically been undermined when compared to traditional sports events.

Online chess and competitions

group of people, laptop

Aside from computers, the rise of the Internet has also helped make chess an accessible and enjoyable sport around the world. The Internet allows people to play chess online, whether against AI or other human players. In fact, this piece on online chess and esports highlights how online chess has been around since 1992, when an Internet server for chess was first designed and developed — the Internet Chess Club. Since then, many other international providers have established themselves. Currently, over eight million people visit online chess websites daily., the largest chess-based website, hosts thousands of online chess players looking to improve at the game or learn new openings and endgames. Some of the benefits of playing chess online instead of on a real board include the ability to find good opponents, especially if you’re skilled. Playing chess digitally and online also offers valuable insights that are not available on a traditional board, such as game reviews, the effectiveness of your opening move, and time taken in between moves.


Finally, the ability to play chess online and digitally also makes competitions and tournaments easier to host, manage, and join. If you don’t live near any chess clubs or communities, for example, joining online chess tournaments is a good way to get your name out there.


The PogChamps Chess tournament is one such opportunity. Hosted on the streaming platform Twitch, it’s an online amateur chess tournament where the biggest Twitch and YouTube streamers, content creators, and celebrities participate and compete. For esports fans specifically, you’d be surprised by the amount of gaming streamers who have joined PogChampstournaments. These include ex-Overwatch player xQc, Tyler1, and Sykkuno. The fifth PogChamps tournament was also in partnership with gaming Twitch streamer Ludwig.

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