2022, where did you go? It feels like only yesterday that Ninja was threatening to sue Pokimane right? Oh, sorry I mean January, it feels like only yesterday it was January. There has been an almighty amount of drama on Twitch this year, just as there was in 2021, so now is an appropriate time to look back and marvel in incredulity.
Ninja threatens to sue Pokimane
Tyler 'Ninja' Blevins was once the face of streaming. Hell, he still might be the best known streamer among people outside of the streaming scene. But he got in some hot water earlier this year as his wife Jessica Blevins decided to threaten Pokimane (opens in new tab), Twitch's most well-known female streamer, with legal action for "defamation of character".
The basics are as follows. Twitch had a bad time with hate raids in 2021, as many minority streamers faced hundreds if not thousands of user made bots flooding streamers and spewing hatred. Hate raids are now enemy number one in Twitch's eyes. JiDion, a streamer with a big fan base, raids Pokimane, telling his fans to spam "L + Ratio" in her chat. 'L' is a reference to people taking a loss, and a ratio is where an original, unpopular post on Twitter is outperformed in engagement by a comment in response to the original tweet. This, though milder than typical hate raids, is considered a hate raid and JiDion is perma-banned by Twitch.
In his hunt to return to the website JiDion asks Ninja for help. Ninja, on stream, indicates he'll help by messaging a contact, which he sort of mimes out. Concerned about this interaction, Pokimane retells this series of events on stream, saying Ninja had messaged Twitch in some way, but here's the twist, he hadn't. It was a ruse to satiate JiDion and his fans. Suddenly everything tumbles out of control when Jessica Blevins sends a rather aggressive message about suing Pokimane, which never seems to have happened because of its, frankly, eyebrow-raising technical faults. So January started out really strong then.
DrDisrepect finally settles with Twitch
Streamer Guy 'DrDisrespect' Beahm was once one of the biggest names on Twitch before being quite suddenly banned from the site in 2020. The streamer had been known for his fair share of controversy over the years, such as streaming in a public bathroom, but at the time of Disrespect's banning there didn't seem to be a recent reason for a permaban. Rumours have since swirled about what could have caused it, and Twitch never commented on his removal.
Eventually Beahm took this to the courtroom to sue Twitch in a very hushed legal process, which eventually concluded quite anticlimactically. Both Twitch and Beahm made statements (opens in new tab) with almost exactly the same wording to the public once everything behind the scenes was settled. "Dr Disrespect and Twitch have resolved their legal dispute. No party admits to any wrongdoing." Maybe everything was settled amicably then!
Chess Grandmaster Hikaru is banned for streaming DrDisrespect playing chess
Oops, okay perhaps not. Despite the legal battle ending, DrDisrespect is still not allowed to be streamed onto Twitch in any way. Chess streamer Hikaru finds that out the hard way by being suspended for three full days (opens in new tab) for streaming the Dr playing chess. Perhaps settled is a strong word outside of a purely legal context, eh?
PC building company pisses off fans and falls apart
Not unlike David and Goliath, this story is about a big, confident brand picking on someone much smaller than its own size and regretting it ever took on the fight. Artesian Builds was a PC building company with its own special Twitch stream which showed the team actively building products for its customers. One fateful stream Artesian Builds had a raffle running which landed on a small streamer called Kiapiaa, who should have won a free PC (opens in new tab).
Artesian Builds CEO, and the man running the raffle, Noah Katz, then rerolled the raffle rather than honouring the prize, because to his thinking Kiapiaa wasn't influential enough to be a good ambassador for the brand. He then spent a long time publicly debating if Kiapiaa should have won the PC because although she was an affiliate and streamed regularly, she had less than 5,000 followers across her social channels and her ad for Artesian Builds hadn't been engaged with. Oof.
Kiapiaa took to Twitter to display this bad behaviour and so began the implosion of Artesian Builds. The company had to issue apologies and lost its Intel sponsorship all because the CEO thought he could get away with being shitty about someone's numbers. Eventually the company went bankrupt (opens in new tab) leaving lots of people with unfulfilled orders, shining a light on just how badly managed Artesian Builds was behind the scenes outside of just its public presence.
The nice end to the story is that Kiapiaa is no longer a small streamer, with 20k followers on Twitter alone. Thanks for giving her the boost she needed, Artesian.
TwitchCon leaves a streamer with a broken back
TwitchCon happens twice a year but the bigger American event in 2022 was held in San Diego. There TwitchCon hosted lots of different stalls by companies looking to woo the passersby including one Lenovo stall with a foam pit for gladiator style combat. This foam wasn't deep enough to prevent serious harm, however, as one streamer by the name of Adriana Chechik broke her back after jumping into the pit. The video has been widely circulated on the internet and is honestly gut wrenching to watch.
Though it's not clear if Twitch or Lenovo are going to face consequences of this pit harming a streamer, Adriana Chechik has thankfully made a better recovery from the break than expected. Her injuries were serious including "more fusions than expected, bones completely crushed" and "nerve damage" to her bladder. She had several surgeries and devastatingly found out while in recovery she was pregnant but could not keep the baby due to the medical procedures she had to undergo to fix her injuries. She returned to Twitch (opens in new tab) a few weeks after the incident ready to show people her new technical back brace to support her recovery. Short of breath and back covered with surgery scars Chechik said no one from the venue had even reached out post accident. A serious and tragic TwitchCon situation.
Streamers leave for YouTube
This isn't so much drama as it is a state of the platform itself. Twitch has been bleeding some of its biggest names as YouTube gobbles them up. It's now a whole genre of video where streamers announce where they're streaming, whether they stay or they go, signified by purple and red props in elaborate sets. Some of the names that have made the switch to YouTube include Genshin Impact voice actor LilyPichu, competitive shooter streamer Myth (opens in new tab), and the Among Us famous Sykkuno. It's not the end of the world that Twitch is losing some of its roster, as I still think YouTube needs to get serious about its smaller streamers (opens in new tab) to really compete with Twitch, but it's still a small blow to the platform's appeal.
Ninja gets a little dramatic
With the increasingly flamboyant ways streamers have revealed that they were leaving Twitch and moving elsewhere, Ninja wasn't going to be outdone. The content creator ended a livestream in a way that left fans worried and a little perplexed as to what was going on with him. Ending one stream in September 2022, Ninja dramatically says he "can't do it, anymore dude" before ending his stream and wiping his social media presence across the internet. The crucial thing here is that he also says "I don't know where I'm going to be live next".
Though there were people worried for Ninja's mental health, considering the theme of burnout streamers seemed to have this year, it was in fact a setup (opens in new tab). He was fine, he was just exploring new platforms to stream on, and had only worried his fans as a stunt. Hmm.
Amouranth accuses husband of domestic abuse
Twitch has become home to lots of women in hot tubs and the queen of them all was Kaitlyn "Amouranth" Siragusa, the leader of sexy women on the platform. Some love her, others hate her, but many collectively admit she's one of the hardest working and most successful women on Twitch. However, it came to light that her hard work wasn't just her incredible drive and perseverance, it seemed her husband was controlling her content, streams, and social media when she exposed him shouting at her live on stream.
Unmuting during a phone call exposed Siragusa's husband's rage. She had apparently not heard him say something, resulting in him threatening to kill her pet dogs, demanding she leave the house, and accusing her of being a liar.
After this phone call Siragusa shows her viewers some of the text messages he has sent her in the past, some of the damage to the house he had caused, before suddenly going off stream while a female voice asks if she's taken her medicine. Siragusa goes offline for two days before updating her fans that she was okay and "seeking legal and emotional counsel" (opens in new tab). Her husband had also apparently realised "how much of an asshole he is" after hearing the recordings of himself from the stream and was "getting help".
Siragusa seems relieved and is "positive about the future" saying she can actually wear clothes and not show cleavage every day. Her content since has been more casual, like IRL streams with friends.
Twitch gambling and assault allegations
Twitch finally banned gambling streams in October, and although the company was reportedly working on making this change before this situation, the gambling turned sexual assault situation in September hammered home that the games had to go. One streamer, ItsSliker, began borrowing money from others on the pretence it was for tickets or for emergency situations. He in fact, was gambling tens of thousands of dollars and landing himself in debt. With this coming to light, and lots of streamers speaking about how ItsSliker had attempted to request money from them, two big streamers Mizkif and Pokimane called for an end to gambling streams on Twitch.
What happens next is a whole load of in-fighting between some of the site's biggest streamers which results in one of Twitch's most popular gambling creators, Trainwreck, accusing Asmongold and the organisation OTK of covering up sexual assault allegations. This is where it gets particularly messy. More accusations are thrown around, but the upshot is that streamers Mizkif and Maya apparently downplayed the seriousness of assault allegations from another creator Adrianna Lee, against a guy called CrazySlick. Lee alleged CrazySlick had touched her neck and chest while she was passed out at a party. Apparently Maya downplayed the situation by speaking to Lee and asking her to say Slick hadn't "raped her or sexually assaulted her" in Lee's 2021 TwitLonger (opens in new tab) despite how serious the allegations truly were.
Ice Poseidon then came forward with screenshots of Mizkif using racist, homophobic, and ableist slurs in messages between the two of them from between 2018 to 2019. It's worth noting Mizkif used to be Ice Poseidon's video editor before becoming a successful creator in his own right. Mizkif then takes a leave of absence (opens in new tab) from his own company, OTK.
This all culminates with yet another streamer, JustaMinx, weighing in on the situation with the gambling controversy with ItsSliker and her opinions on Adrianna Lee and CrazySlick. This leads people to resurface clips of her calling Lee a "clout chaser" and defending CrazySlick despite the allegations. Streamer toxxxicsupport then also comes forward with a TwitLonger (opens in new tab) about JustaMinx saying in 2018 Minx had dismissed her concerns about an "uncomfortable" party where she felt pressured to take clothes off during drinking games.
And that's the very long story, put in the simplest terms available. I would encourage you to read the full story of how a Twitch gambling scandal spiralled into sexual harassment allegations (opens in new tab), if you're interested in the details and the apologies that followed. What started with gambling issues ended up with streamers pulling out grievances they've had with one another for a long time. Some fans and audience members rightly pointed out that people shouldn't be keeping receipts in their back pocket like this, just to throw them down as defence against something else. At least gambling has been eliminated from streaming platforms though right? Right?
Trainwreck turns out to be working with gambling companies still
Ha, wrong. It's the end of the year and yet there is still more controversy coming. Tyler 'Trainwreck' Niknam, who you might remember as being part of the earlier gambling controversy, is currently wrapped in another. The streamer was one of the most prolific gambling presences on Twitch and made a lot of money from promoting these on the streaming platform. As a result of the October ban on slots and other types of gambling on Twitch, he's announced that he's moving to another brand-new streaming site, Kick. Which, you might have already guessed it, appears to be owned by a crypto casino, Stake.com.
Trainwreck wrote a TwitLonger (opens in new tab) airing a lot of grievances with Twitch regarding its profit splits, inconsistent policies, and building "an empire off our backs" to announce the move to the new platform. He also notes he'll be a "non-owner advisor and non-exclusive broadcaster". He finished by saying "Kick's team and I have a vision to make a livestreaming platform that's actually built first for creators. Not just for Twitch's huge creators with paid contracts, but for the small and mid-sized creators who are the foundation and backbone of all livestreaming platforms. We'll bring livestreaming back to what it was before Twitch lost its way. An authentic experience between viewers and streamers."
There are a lot of promises in this thread about better pay splits, 100% of monetary tips going to streamers, no limit on who gets a sub button and more, but it sounding too good to be true led some people to dig up dirt on what Kick actually is. Trainwreck eventually comes forward to confirm that the two websites had a connection through the owner but Stake was not investing in Kick. Still, there are plenty of people sceptical about Kick's intentions, including Twitch co-founder Marcus 'djWHEAT' Graham (opens in new tab) (who has since left Twitch).
Gosh. That's a lot of drama isn't it. Hopefully 2023 is a little quieter, but for some reason I'm not sure it will be.