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Chess Esports is going to become big in post-COVID era: Vidit Gujrathi
New Delhi, September 14, 2020
Grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi, who led India to a historic gold at the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad, feels that Chess Esports is going to become big in the post-COVID era.
As most of the sports in the world are still struggling to find a way forward while facing the COVID-19 pandemic after-effects, the online streaming of chess has become a huge hit with more chess enthusiasts embracing the concept. The biggest example of this was the huge success of FIDE Online Chess Olympiad.
In a chat with paddler Mudit Dani on his show, 'In the Sportlight', the 25-year-old Gujrathi said, “Previously chess streaming used to be looked down upon. In India, nobody used to stream. Gradually, people realised it’s good and it is growing every day. The Olympiad has shown that chess can really be a spectator sport.”
Gujrathi considers the success of the online tournament as the beginning of a new era for chess in the country. If going online is the answer and innovation the solution, chess has the ability to mould both into one with “Chess Esports” which would bring the players more financial gains as well as a wider avenue.
With GM Hikaru Nakamura becoming the first professional chess player to be signed up by a professional esports streaming organisation, it is an advantage for chess players who can explore this avenue.
“Yes, Hikaru got signed up for TSM and (Magnus) Carlsen is also hinting at that. So, maybe chess could be one of those sports which can be a sport as well as one where you can combine it with esport,” said Gujrathi hinting at the possibility of Indian players also exploring it in the coming time.
He named Nihal Sarin, R Praggnanandhaa, Divya Deshmukh, Vantika Agrawal as the ones to watch out for from a bunch of highly talented Indian chess players who can take the sport forward.
Talking about his stint as the captain of the team, which was declared joint winners alongside Russia. he said it not only turned out to be memorable but also a learning one, personally.
The victorious Indian team made him learn a lot about responsibility and quick decision-making which he can draw upon in high-pressure matches. The team included among others former world champion Viswanathan Anand and Koneru Humpy,
Gujrathi shared a memory of beating Anand for the first time and termed it as a special moment of his career. "It was a really nice feeling to play against a player to whom you look up to. I was in the Indian Top-5 but never got a chance to play against him so I was thinking that I'm missing out on that experience.
"It was 2018 when the first time I played against Anand. It is a different feeling when you play because then you realise their strengths and weaknesses very closely. It was a really good memory when I finally won against him in 2019," he added.