Twitch removed its popular PogChamp emote a couple of days ago after the person on which it was based — Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez — posted some tweets encouraging more mob violence after the riot at the Capitol. The spirit of PogChamp, however, will live on: today, Twitch announced that it would cycle through different versions of the emote every 24 hours, starting today.
You know what? In the spirit of figuring out 2021 together, let’s just roll with it for now!— Twitch (@Twitch) January 8, 2021
Get ready for a new PogChamp every 24 hours, starting today. https://t.co/R16EyASsFx
The reason PogChamp was popular was because it was the site’s global hype emote: when anything cool happened on Twitch, you could be sure to see people pogging in the chat. As the writer (and, full disclosure, my friend) Ryan Broderick put it in his excellent newsletter Garbage Day, Twitch removing the PogChamp emote was probably in service of taking the site truly mainstream.
“The other big part of this is that Twitch’s long-term goal as a company seems to be fully divorcing themselves from the reputation as an ESPN for gamers,” Broderick writes. “So the PogChamp debacle is basically perfect for Twitch — a small change that signals they’re no longer aligned with Gutierrez and everything within the specific toxic strain of the pro-gaming community he represents.”
Twitch’s push toward truly mainstream relevance didn’t start in 2020, and a year spent mostly inside helped move the site there. Perhaps the biggest win — and the strongest signal — that Twitch was beginning to achieve those goals was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) stream with some of Twitch’s biggest stars, which was one of the largest individual streams the site has ever seen. The idea that there was a difference between Twitch influence and mainstream influence evaporated at the very moment AOC’s stream went dark. (Since then, internet-savvy congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has also streamed Among Us with a cast of all-star broadcasters.)
A Twitch spokesperson told me in an email that the company wanted to update the emote given what happened this week, and that Sean “Day9” Plott had a great idea. The spokesperson did not say how long the experiment would last, but says that the company is looking to the Twitch community to see their response.
In other words: PogChamp is dead. Long live PogChamp.
Update Jan 8th, 2:37pm ET: Article updated with information from Twitch.