The PogChamp emote is gone. Twitch has removed Ryan "Gootecks" Gutierrez's duck-like expression of surprise and delight following controversial comments from the esports personality—the most recent were about yesterday's raid of the US Capitol, but previously aired COVID-19 conspiracy theories may have also contributed.
It was, perhaps, a mistake to develop a visual language out of the faces of real people, tying concepts like "hype" to one-off expressions made by individuals who may go on to espouse all sorts of ideas about hydroxychloroquine or white supremacist mobs. But here we are.
Now Twitch has given itself a strange task: creating a new global PogChamp emote that carries the same meaning as the old one, but without depicting the face that for years has signified that meaning.
Somehow, Twitch plans to do that, allowing the "sentiment and use of Pog to live on" with a new emote. Will that be someone else's face, or an illustration, or something else entirely? Naturally, Twitch streamers and viewers already have ideas. Here are some of the current candidates for the new PogChamp.
Someone else's face
The most common suggestion on social media is: 'Hey, make this person PogChamp now.'
Kahlief Adams, who hosts popular podcast Spawn on Me, has put forward his face and has lots of backers, including streamer Zombaekillz, whose tweet calling for Twitch to drop the original PogChamp emote was widely shared before Twitch announced the decision.
The expression in Adams' Twitter profile image has an intensity that the suggested illustration lacks, so that photo might make more sense as a PogChamp alternative. Either way, Adams' submission reflects one of two common attitudes regarding the future of PogChamp: that it should be a person making a face, but not the specific face seen in the original PogChamp emote.
#KAH4POGCHAMP Let’s get it trending!! pic.twitter.com/0YftyvjJdJJanuary 7, 2021
On the other side of the coin is the idea that the original PogChamp expression should be emulated directly, bringing us to a second self-submitted candidate: Octavian "Kripparian" Morosan.
Kripp is the most watched active Hearthstone streamer on Twitch. Viewers tune in for his laconic humor and (more importantly) to revel in his salty refusal to accept that losses incurred are ever his fault. Lag, poor design, and the cruel vicissitudes of RNG all regularly come under fire from his withering blame cannon. Perhaps we don't associate Kripp with what Twitch calls the "hype moments" that previously triggered a wave of PogChamps—his stream is laid back to the point of being ASMR—but he put forward one of the better attempts to replicate the PogChamp face, and also falls into the category of being a good guy. (The Salt Lord thing is simply his USP rather than any real character flaw.)
I made this hype emote just for you @Twitch pic.twitter.com/qEmOmjVjQuJanuary 7, 2021
Many more suggestions can be found in the replies to Twitch's statement that it will "work with the community" to design the new PogChamp. What they mostly illustrate is just how hard it is to recreate the original, spontaneous expression that became so iconic—Kripp's attempt is good, but it doesn't quite capture the feeling. It looks like someone emulating the expression. At the same time, attempting to transfer the meaning associated with the PogChamp face to a different expression feels like putting a round peg in a square hole. If Twitch goes with another face, it'll be tough to get right.
This guy's dog
Another popular suggestion is this guy's dog:
May I make an offering? My dog, Pancake, enjoying the snow. pic.twitter.com/MOwGGYDNAUJanuary 7, 2021
"DogChamp" has a nice ring to it, and Pancake's expression does suggest a high level of hype: for snow, running, and being a dog. And unlike a human, there can't be any sense that a dog is "faking" an expression, so it is effective in that respect.
Make all the streamers PogChamps
Esports and streaming personality Sean "Day" Plott (who hosts our own PC Gaming Show) suggested a dynamic emote that cycles through a bunch of streamer faces.
Naturally, all the faces would be of the "PogChamp" expression for consistencyJanuary 7, 2021
Plott's idea partially solves the problem of what to do when the face of an emote does something to radically alter the emote's context: You can take one person out of the rotation without deleting the emote altogether. However, it still requires emulation of the original expression—as Plott suggests, it wouldn't work unless everyone did their best to replicate the original PogChamp face.
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With over two decades covering videogames, Tim has been there from the beginning. In his case, that meant playing Elite in 'co-op' on a BBC Micro (one player uses the movement keys, the other shoots) until his parents finally caved and bought an Amstrad CPC 6128. These days, when not steering the good ship PC Gamer, Tim spends his time complaining that all Priest mains in Hearthstone are degenerates and raiding in Destiny 2. He's almost certainly doing one of these right now.