Getting to the final moments of a match in Playerunknown's Battlegrounds is a tense experience. It might be just you and one or two other opponents, each trying to bait the other into revealing their position for a quick kill. But for Andrew Panton, seeing the words "Winner, winner, chicken dinner" on his screen has a whole new meaning. He's taking on the Chicken Dinner Challenge, which mandates that he can eat one roast chicken each time he wins a match and that's it. No veggies, no fruits, just roast chickens. For a month.
"I was thinking about the obsession with the pursuit of the chicken dinner and started thinking about it in a more literal sense," says Panton, who works on the creative team behind popular YouTube channel AchievementHunter. "The reason why I am doing this is because I think this is a funny but incredibly stupid idea. This is such a ridiculous challenge to attempt, and nobody had tried it before, so I felt obligated to attempt it."
The rules are relatively simple. Each day Panton streams PUBG and attempts to win a chicken dinner. If he does, he can consume one whole roast chicken at his leisure, but no other food. He's also allowed to stock up wins and cash out his roast chickens whenever he wants, so if he has a particularly good day he can stock up for later. Finally, on Saturdays he can play with a partner.
"I have been stretching out my consumption of the chicken to make sure I am not in a scenario where I have no food, but I have been on a pace of winning one chicken a day so far," Panton says. "If I get some wins stacked up I will be eating larger amounts of chicken then I currently am but since it's been essentially just one win per day I am doing my best to be conservative."
Panton's streams start at 5:45 PM PST each weekday, so you can watch this man literally fight to the death for his life-sustaining chicken. So far, he's actually done really well. Despite calling himself a "bad player," Panton has managed to win at least one match a day (I've only won once in my entire time playing), which has kept his belly relatively full of chicken. But that's not necessarily a good thing. "The blandness has definitely sucked, and I regret not allowing myself to have any sides but I think it's both dumber and funnier if I need to suffer through that blandness," he told me. "With the pace I am currently on it has been enough to keep me going but it's not at all fun."
I asked Panton if he did the responsible thing and checked with a doctor before trying out his poultry-only diet. And no, he hadn't. "I have no plan on pushing myself too far," he assures me. "At the first sign of trouble, I will stop regardless of how deep I get."
Trouble, I discovered, might be coming sooner than expected. Curious to see just how dangerous this kind of challenge is, I called up a local registered dietitian, Jessica Tong. After haphazardly explaining to her why the hell Panton is even doing this, Tong laid out some pretty troubling health concerns.
"There are definitely some very negative health effects [to only eating chicken]," Tong tells me. "I know it sounds cliché, but you're only focusing on that one food group and missing out on all the benefits from fruits and vegetables and their associated vitamins and nutrients that help with immune function and keep you healthy."
Tong explains that a chicken-only diet will leave Panton without valuable nutrients like vitamin C, which increases his risk of contracting an illness. What's a bit scarier, however, is the risk of clogging up his bowels by eating too much protein. "There's also the potential that he'll become constipated. Overloading with excessive protein can cause constipation, especially because he won't be getting any source of fibre."
Finally, the other big obstacle that Panton will face is a dire lack of energy. "Carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source, and without them his energy levels will plummet. By next week, he's going to start feeling quite tired and run down. That could affect his ability to keep winning further games."
It sounds pretty serious, but Tong did reassure me that if Panton does make it to the end of the month on just roast chicken he's not likely to suffer any long term issues due to nutritional deficiencies. Still, there is a risk that "micro-nutritional deficiencies" like lacking calcium could put him in the hospital. It sounds like a lot to risk for a silly gaming challenge.
"The process has turned into a stress-based Groundhog Day," Panton tells me. "The night always ends on a high but waking up the next morning I go back to panicking about my ability to win."
Pretty soon, however, Panton might start panicking about his inability to poop.