As chess has burst in Twitch, some of the timeless game’s more charming professional players appeared, such as sisters Andrea and Alexandra Botez, who have now become content creators to esports organization Envy.
Chess as a game has existed in certain forms since the 6th century, with the streamlining of its pieces dating back to the 15th century and its rules in the 19th century.
However, the old game hadn’t performed well competing for views on Twitch until 2020, when growth became significant, and Alexandra and Andrea Botez sisters have become key to its popularity.
Alexandra Botez is an American female FIDE master, analyst, and streaming queen. She was born to Romanian parents who later moved to the US. Though born in Dallas, Texas, her family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she spent her childhood. Alexandra’s father introduced her to chess and started training her when she was six. In a couple of years, she became a member of the Romanian Community Centre chess club, called Golden Knights, coached by Chess Master Valer Eugen Demian.
In 2004, Botez won her first Canadian national championship at the age of eight. Then she played for the National Canadian Team and won another four Canadian youth national titles. After moving back to the US at the age of fifteen, Botez won the US Girls Nationals and twice represented the state of Oregon in the SPF Girls’ Invitational. Botez also took part in three Chess Olympiads from 2012 to 2016. In 2013, Botez reached the Woman FIDE Master title norm. In 2016 Alexandra got her top FIDE rating of 2092, and she is currently holding the woman FIDE master title.
After attending high school in Oregon, Alexandra gained a chess scholarship to the University of Dallas. However, she chose to study International Relations with a focus on Chinese at Stanford University. During her second year in 2014, Botez became the female president of the Stanford University Chess Club, the second after Cindy Tsai in 2005. Botez also appeared on CBS due to her tremendous success as a chess entertainer. Thanks to her incredible skills, Botez is currently one of the top-10 female players in Canada.
Botez usually won games due to her dynamic, aggressive, and adaptive style of play. In the 2016 Chess Olympiad held in Norway, she applied her attacking style to her opponent Anzel Solomons. During this game, Botez, playing as White, forced Solomon to make a tactical error which turned the game in Botez’s favor. Having built a substantial advantage, Botez advanced her kingside pawns until Solomons resigned from the competition.
Alexandra is funny, witty, and invincible on the chessboard. She has refreshed the chess community with her enthusiasm and a good sense of humor. Her presentation skills make even the most tedious aspects of chess come to life.
While the chess community has been widely criticized as elitist for non-admission of casuals, Alexandra Botez looks like a girl next door who just wants the community to evolve (and maybe roast people, or themselves, along the way).
Alexandra Botez is only 25 years old, but she is already a proven pro within the chess community. She became famous for having the Woman FIDE Master title and multiple championships awards and for her significant contribution to the popularization of chess among esports enthusiasts.
Andrea is Alexandra’s younger sister and barely out of high school. Despite being a gifted player herself, with several national competitions and some prizes in her pocket, she is not widely recognized by the international chess community.
Andrea learned chess due to her father and sister when she was also six years old. She started taking part in chess tournaments at the age of seven. Later in 2010, Andrea won the U8 Girls Canadian Youth Chess Championship and became the Women British Columbia Chess Champion in 2015. Besides, Andrea became a winner in the Girls U14 category of the Susan Polgar National Open in 2015.
Andrea reached her top FIDE classical rating of 1773 in 2018 and her peak USChess rating of 1933 in 2019. Her Chess.com blitz rating topped at 2065 in May 2020, while her Chess.com bullet rating peaked at 2164 in November 2020 — it is evident that her skills are improving.
Andrea’s style is also considered attacking and aggressive. She often uses her beloved London system, taking complete control over the situation. She starts eating up the opponent’s chess pieces during the game, winning it convincingly while often under big-time trouble.
In one of her YouTube videos, Andrea stated that she wouldn’t plan to go to college, taking another gap year and advancing her career as a content creator. Now she is moving in that way by self-studying the necessary materials. Besides, Andrea has recently launched a Fanhouse, where she shares pictures, life updates, and behind-the-scenes content.
“This is how you play chess, buddy” pic.twitter.com/efT5hO9moA
— Alexandra Botez (@alexandravbotez) May 6, 2020
For a long while, chess had no proper interest among popular streamers and community engagement from skilled players. Nevertheless, everything changed in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, when chess became significantly more popular on Twitch. Then in May 2020, Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura decided to take the unknown Felix “xQc” Lengyel under his wing.
Due to that significant push, two sisters managed to capture the lion’s share of the ‘Twitch market.’ Together Alexandra and Andrea are the creators of one of the biggest chess channels on Twitch and YouTube, BotezLive. On Twitch, sisters regularly play chess, practice chess puzzles, chat with their followers, and show their dancing skills. Whether by providing tutoring, competing, or simply commentating in a dramatic online chess scene, the Botez sisters have taken a tremendous niche.
In March 2021, The BotezLive channel had almost 700,000 followers with nearly 7 million hours watched throughout 2020.
Those incredible dynamics illustrate the tremendous rise of chess on Twitch. Alexandra and Andrea’s ability to mix technical superiority with community engagement is incomparable in chess. The Botez sisters are immersed in the platform’s environment. They are enthusiastic spreaders of the memes and conversations that help expand their fanbase with a ground not exclusively built on basic chess skills.
Whether it’s dissecting chess matches, or simply talking, or even roasting with their followers and fans on Just Chatting, the Botez sisters show how much bigger your community can become when its top players don’t take themselves too seriously.
Although the Botez sisters are talented enough to help teach celebrities, they are humble enough to engage with their fans outside of the chessboard.
At the end of the year, the Botez sisters saw their contribution to channel improvement paying off, boosting their careers in multiple ways.
Early in December, they became a finalist for Breakthrough Streamer of the Year in the Dexerto Awards together with Sykkuno, Ludwig, and Corpse Husband. Though they didn’t take the first prize (Ludwig eventually became first) — it was clear how far they’d improved in 2020, especially in such a niche market.
Botez’s success as streamers (both in-game talent and the ability to foster community) attracted esports’ most prominent organization, Envy Gaming. In December 2020, Alexandra and Andrea signed a deal with the Texas-based esports representative to initiate the organization’s creator network and ambassador program.
Overall, this means a tremendous step up for Alexandra and Andrea in particular and the chess world in general. While the game seemed to dissolve in time, the popularity of Netflix drama ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ has given it somewhat of a revival, which has only strengthened the community the Botez sisters gathered.
They’re not entirely the first chess players who joined a top esports organization — Nakamura takes that claim, entering TSM back in August 2020 — but this step shows how essential chess streaming can become in the near future and what value these Twitch idols hold in the live streaming and gaming world.
While 2020 may have been their debut year, be ready to expect incredible performance from Alexandra and Andrea in 2021 because it seems like these two Twitch queens are just getting started.