Video games. Twitch, Netflix and now Vitality … the success of chess


Andreea Navrotescu, six times French youth chess champion and new ambassador for Vitality esport club.
Andreea Navrotescu, six times French youth chess champion and new ambassador of the Vitality esport club. (VITALITY)

The same question already brought together chess and esport: is it sport? Now we can ask another: is chess esports? In some ways we can say yes, when it is played online. Vitality, the French esport club has just announced the recruitment of a chess player, Andreea Navrotescu, six times French youth champion.

This is a sign of the importance that chess is taking on the Internet, especially in the world of streaming and video games. Streamers like Sardoche or Domingo come to shed light on the great work done for almost 10 years by Kevin “Blitzstream” Bordi, pioneer of chess on the Twitch platform. A success also driven by the performances of French champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, one of the best chess players in the world. Explanation with Brice N’Guessan, editorial director of Video Games Magazine.

franceinfo: For several months now, there has been a sudden interest in chess, and video games are taking hold of the phenomenon?

Brice N’Guessan: With confinement, failures have come back to the fore. The very popular Netflix series The Lady’s Game has brought chess back to the fore, boosting sales of chess boards, books and audiences for online gaming sites. The video game sphere took hold of the phenomenon first of all through the streaming platform Twitch or videographers like Domingo or even Sardoche with a total of nearly a million subscribers, and generally video game enthusiasts have discovered or rediscovered their passion for this game.

We find the same requirement as in strategy video games like League of Legends or DOTA: Anticipate, predict, trap and calculate at high speed.

Brice N’Guessan

Video Games Magazine

Other video game players are interested in the phenomenon …

Seeing the phenomenon point the tip of its nose, several professional electronic sports teams, accustomed to competing in games like Fortnite, FIFA or Counter strike show an interest in chess. We find the same requirement as in strategy video games like League of Legends or DOTA. Anticipating, predicting, trapping, and above all calculating everything at high speed, these are qualities that are as important for playing these games as they are for chess.

And this is how chess champions are recruited by big esport teams!

It started last summer with Japanese-born American Hikaru Nakamura, the 20th player in the world and 1st in the Blitz – that is, in fast play format – joining the American team TSM. And last December, Envy, the US esports team signed Andrea and Alexandra Botez, two sisters who hit Twitch with 630,000 subscribers and more than 6 million views per month. Of particular interest to this duo since Alexandra, the 24-year-old big sister, is one of the few women in the world to hold the title of FIDE Master.

And in France, it is therefore the Vitality club which is recruiting in its turn?

Indeed, a week ago, the famous Team Vitality signed Andreea Navrotescu, six times French chess champion in the youth category. The idea behind these contracts is to be able to be present in competitions that can be followed by millions of people, like the PogChamps, organized last summer by which totaled 120 million spectators. .


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