eSports

Chess.com Returns to Twitch With $50K PogChamps 2 Streamer Tournament

Online chess platform Chess.com has announced the return of its breakout Twitch streamer tournament series, PogChamps. PogChamps 2 will once again pit a group of high-profile streamers against one another with $50K USD on the line. The event will also feature a returning commentary team consisting of two of the most popular chess streamers on Twitch – chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura and Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Alexandra Botez.

Participants for PogChamps 2 include:

  • John “Cizzorz” Cizek
  • David Pakman
  • Jesper “Gripex90” Terkildsen
  • Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (who played “The Mountain” in HBO’s Game of Thrones)
  • Rumay “Hafu” Wang
  • Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera
  • Matthew “Mizkif” Rinaudo
  • QTCinderella (real name unknown)
  • Ashkan “TF Blade” Homayouni
  • Niklas “Wagamama” Högström
  • Félix “xQc” Lengyel
  • Fintan “EasyWithAces” Hand
  • Austin (last name unknown)
  • Additional players TBA

As with its first iteration, PogChamps 2 features streamers from across a wide array of Twitch content categories. These streamers are not high-level chess players, and so the appeal of the tournament is less about getting to watch advanced chess gameplay, and more in cheering for your favorite streamer while watching some of the world’s greatest chess players react to rookie mistakes in a high stakes tournament.

According to Chess.com, the first PogChamps tournament was seen by 3.53M unique viewers, peaking at 87.3K concurrent. The chess category as a whole reached 156K peak concurrents during the run of the tournament. Google Trends data also shows significant growth for chess-related search terms in June during the run of PogChamps.

“We’ve long had the vision that chess could be a really great esport,” Chess.com COO Brenan Klain told The Esports Observer, “and that at some point it would catch on. And we’ve had successes here and there with good events, and some good attention on different things, but PogChamps was our best one yet by a long shot.

“Because the players aren’t master-level players themselves, it’s easier for regular people to understand the game and watch it, and it’s still entertaining to watch people who aren’t master-level players battle it out.”

PogChamps 2 will divide its competitors into four groups each consisting of four players for the initial stage of the tournament, with players seeded based on their Blitz rating on Chess.com. From there, the bottom two players from each group will move into a consolation bracket with a top prize of $3.5K, while the top two will move on to a championship bracket with the champion taking hom $10K. Both brackets will be single elimination.

The tournament will run multiple weeks beginning in late August.

“Streaming and esports has been part of our strategy for five-plus years,” Klain said. “We’ve been investing in it and trying to find ways to make it as successful as possible, and we’re starting to reap those fruits now, when the climate is right for a spotlight to be shown on chess.”

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