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  • Writer's pictureShanti Bergel

Welcome, Kings of Games

Chess is one of the oldest games in the world, predating even the advent of electricity by over 1000 years. It is easy to learn but sublimely deep, intensely competitive, and exceptionally challenging to master. Its popularity and staying power over the centuries mark it not just as a timeless contest of strategy but have also forged chess into a gaming language understood by billions around the world.

Appreciation for the ageless elegance of the game has exploded of late thanks to the success of chess on streaming platforms and telegenic young chess champions that have revitalized and broadened its appeal. The unrivaled tactical depth and natural rivalry of the game makes it surprisingly well suited to esports. On Twitch, there were over 18 million hours of chess watched this January - which is roughly equivalent to all of 2019. Briefly in February, chess even beat out Fortnite, Valorant, and League of Legends as the top gaming category on the platform by number of viewers. The highest-earning esports player of 2020 was in chess and major teams like Solomid, CLG, and Envy have signed high profile players.

The position of chess in popular culture has shifted as well. Grandmasters Maurice Ashley and Hikaru Nakamura both made cameo appearances in the hit show Billions. The popularity of Queen’s Gambit on Netflix led to a surge in real world chess set sales and social media halo effects for real world female players such as the Botez sisters and Grandmaster Qiyu Zhou.

Founded by two chess grandmasters and key talent from Slovenia’s first gaming unicorn, Kings of Games is reimagining the chess experience for this exciting global community. Transcend is proud to back Dusko, Luka, and Matej as they work to make chess truly accessible. If that resonates, please check in on them - they are hiring!

About Transcend Fund

Transcend is a top performing early stage venture capital firm that partners with the boldest founders in the industry to collaboratively build the future of interactive entertainment.

Founded in San Francisco by gaming veterans, the Transcend portfolio features a preeminent group of high growth digital entertainment companies around the world.

More information about Transcend can be found on our website. Follow us on LinkedIn for the latest news from around the Transcend ecosystem.

About Shanti Bergel

Shanti is the founding partner of Transcend and a 30 year game industry veteran.

His global operating experience spans every major platform and business model transition of the last several decades and is animated by a career-long fascination with how changes in technology and distribution affect products, services, and communities.

Shanti is a recognized member of the Techcrunch List, speaks fluent Japanese, and is a frequent speaker on early stage investment, M&A, and strategic partnerships in digital entertainment.


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