How Tyler1 Became The Biggest Chess Streamer

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All jokes aside, we may be seeing a new kind of prodigy.

Story Highlights
  • Tyler1 is a famous streamer known for his aggressive personality and exceptional gaming skills.
  • Despite a lack of formal training, Tyler has become a top chess player within a year, surprising the chess community.
  • Some admire him as a prodigy while others criticize his arrogant attitude.

Tyler Steinkamp, better known by his online alias Tyler1, has carved a unique path in the online streaming world. Fans and first-time viewers alike are intrigued by his overly aggressive personality. Tyler is a very passionate person, somehow managing to stream 10 hours a day while still having time for powerlifting. Tyler is a caricature of the loud, dumb musclehead trope that is an actual super genius in pattern recognition.

The Origin Story

YouTube video

Tyler’s origin story comes in two parts, and both start in spite. Some say the trigger was his loss to his brother, while others say it was his loss against XQC. Regardless of which one it was, PogChamps 5 set Tyler down a road for vengeance against all that laughed at him. With Tyler’s crude attitude, most people didn’t think he had it in him to get much better at the game. Today, not only is he among the top-rated Chess streamers, but he’s also in the top 0.5% of all Chess players in the world.

A Genuine Prodigy

YouTube video

When you first see a powerlifter who rages, screams, and hits his head on the wall at any minor inconvenience, a genius is not the first thing that comes to mind. Still, no matter how you deny it, Tyler is an authentic prodigy. He’s extremely good at League, getting Challenger in all 5 roles while playing solo. His pattern recognition skills are insane, and so is his drive to grind. When he sets his mind on something, it’s like this machine that won’t cease functioning until the goal is achieved.

Tyler1 on Pogchamps 5
Tyler1’s Pogchamps card had him rated 199

This genius is not exclusive to League, however. Just 11 months ago, he was rated 199 and barely knew how the pieces moved. Today, he’s almost at 2k. This improvement unironically rivals Magnus Carlsen’s first foray into chess. Magnus took about a year to go from 900 ELO to 1900. Tyler took 11 months to go from 199 to 1900. Obviously, comparing a grown adult to a 9-year-old Magnus isn’t entirely fair, but Magnus is considered an alien by human standards.

Simply Built Different

Tyler1 Flexing
His physique is unusual for a streamer, let alone a Chess master

“If you start out playing as an adult, you can’t get beyond a certain point. It’s impossible.”

The above was said by Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura about Tyler1 when he reached a 1400 rating. As we’ve seen in the past month, he now sits comfortably at almost 2000. This limitation has some scientific basis, with neuroplasticity severely limiting the changes an adult brain can go through compared to that of a child. Whether Tyler1 is some extreme prodigy or if it’s just an effect of playing tens of hours every single day for a year, it seems he’s beaten biology.  

One other impressive thing is that Tyler doesn’t know any openings. He also doesn’t have a coach, nor does he study traps and counters. Tyler’s brute-forcing Chess with a single opening, his trusted Cow opening. A study shows that the most important part in Chess expertise is experience and practice (), and Tyler1 is a living example of this.

The Chess Community’s Reaction

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With Tyler’s personality, it’s no wonder most of the chess community wasn’t fond of him. A lot of the hate was justified by Tyler’s arrogant remarks about Chess masters. However, much of the hate might also come from a sort of elitism mindset.

The first match Hikaru saw of Tyler was when he was rated 199; he said that watching Tyler play made him lose brain cells. Granted, Tyler did hang his Queen, so this was perhaps worth it. His next reaction to Tyler was when someone in his chat told him to watch Tyler play, to which Hikaru said:

“Is he still playing? Oh god, I hope he isn’t. He’s hit a wall, he can’t improve anymore.” 

Keep in mind that this was when Tyler had already climbed to 1.4k ELO in just 6 months, an achievement not many can replicate. In contrast, Gothamchess or Levy calls him a prodigy unlike any other. His input matters because prior to Tyler getting into Chess, Levy was the biggest Chess streamer. Levy and Hikaru are among the people who revolutionized chess by promoting it to a larger audience, so these differing views represent the wider chess community.

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