On Jan. 6, live streaming website Twitch announced the decision to remove the image of their hugely popular emote PogChamp. Instead of completely doing away with PogChamp, Twitch stated their intention to replace the image with one that still captures the spirit of the emote. This comes on the heels of controversy surrounding the face of the emote in relation to the recent insurrection and violence at the U.S Capitol.
Following pro-Trump riots at the U.S Capitol building, namely the death of one rioter who was shot by Capitol police, Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez, the face behind PogChamp, tweeted out a message which Twitch said encouraged “further violence” and seemed to call for retribution for the woman shot and killed.
This isn't the first time Gutierrez has been at the heart of some controversy. Last May, Gutierrez guested on a podcast hosted on Twitch where he spread conspiracy theories and misinformation about the Bill Gates Foundation and coronavirus.
After Gutierrez's tweet began making the rounds, calls from other Twitch streamers, led by streamer ZombaeKillz, started coming in calling for the removal and replacement of the emote.
PogChamp, which stands for “Pog Champion,” is one of Twitch's oldest emotes and memes, and has become one of the most enduring images of Twitch's legacy. The image, which comes from an outtake of an old video where a tripod was bumped into, derives its namesake from yet another video called “Pogs Championship: gootecks vs Mike Ross – Madcatz Promo.” Though the emotes' meaning has been lost to time, the image itself has lasted and become a cultural touchstone on Twitch. It's often invoked when celebrating something or to express shock and surprise at something that occurs on stream, which made the news all that more surprising to Twitch audiences.
Within a few hours of Gutierrez's tweets, Twitch announced that they would replace PogChamp, claiming that they wanted “the sentiment and use of Pog to live on” even though they could not “in good conscience continue to enable use of the image.” They further stated that they'd work with their community to design a new emote.
To that end, Twitch announced on Jan. 8 that in the spirit of the redesign, they would immediately roll out a change that would make it so that PogChamp would actually change faces every 24 hours. This idea came from a suggestion by Sean “day9tv” Plott, a longtime Twitch partner, to make a database of streamer reaction emotes and faces to allow PogChamp to take on greater meaning than a single person. It isn’t yet known which streamers and emotes are involved with this latest effort.