According to stats tracking websites TwitchTracker and SullyGnome, chess is now bigger in viewership than several AAA titles, including Overwatch, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Black Ops, and Rainbow Six: Siege. SullyGnome ranks Chess 22nd in its leaderboards, while TwitchTracker puts it at 20th place, with an estimated daily average viewership of 22-23K.
The chart above shows the viewership growth of chess since January 2020, with the purple line representing peak viewership and the red line representing average. The steady growth is visible, and nowadays, Chess has seen peaks as high as 370,000. These peaks were recorded during the PogChamps 3 tournament — an event that pits various popular streamers, such as Félix "xQc" Lengyel, Imane "Pokimane" Anys, and more (our list of top 7 streamers playing chess available here). Netflix's show Queen's Gambit has also been credited with the huge popularization of chess on Twitch and a lot of the biggest streamers on the platform regularly broadcast the millennia-old game. Chess veterans, in turn, have also been exploring the streaming life (read our top 5 list of chess masters to watch on Twitch), following the example of Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who has now become the face of chess for the gaming audience.
Chess being bigger than some esports titles is also due to the lull in competition in those titles. The 2021 season of the Overwatch League is not due for another month and there's nothing big happening in Rainbow Six either. What the numbers trend shows, however, is that chess a healthier streaming audience on a daily basis
If chess keeps growing — and it probably will, seeing how there's a PogChamps 4 tournament on the horizon — it's poised to overtake other big titles on Twitch. Hearthstone and PUBG are ahead by only 2k daily average and if it beats them, chess will be close to a top 15 game on Twitch.
Esports editor and journalist of 10+ years. Lives on black tea and corgi love.