Top 10 most iconic Twitch moments: The good, the bad and the ugly
Over the past decade, Twitch has been the cradle for countless iconic moments that have defined the culture of online streaming, changed the gaming industry, and made some ordinary players in their bedroom superstars. From unbelievable gaming achievements to headline-grabbing controversies, here are the top 10 most iconic Twitch moments of all time.
Boiling down over ten years worth of Twitch, spun off as the gaming section of Justin.tv in 2011 before it was fully renamed in 2014, into just ten moments, is an impossible task, and there will no doubt be some of your favorite moments not included here.
We’ve picked out the moments that have had the most lasting impact on the platform and the industry at large, either by their greatness or their controversy. These are the top ten most iconic moments in Twitch history, as of 2023.
10: The Hot Tub Meta controversy (2021)
The “Hot Tub Meta,” where streamers broadcasted from hot tubs, stirred controversy on Twitch. It was originated by xoAeriel, but reached a tipping point when popular streamer Kaitlyn ‘Amouranth’ Siragusa was temporarily demonetized by Twitch. Fellow streamer Indiefoxx was also indefinitely banned, although her account was reinstated in 2023.
The decision sparked heated debates about the platform’s content policies, its treatment of women creators, and the evolving norms of what is acceptable content for livestreaming. Eventually, Twitch resolved the issue by creating a new category, ‘Pools, Hot Tubs & Beaches’, so that this content could exist separately to ‘Just Chatting’, and it remains one of the most popular categories on the site.
9: Tyler1’s return to League & Twitch (2018)
Tyler ‘Tyler1‘ Steinkamp, once dubbed “the most toxic player in North America,” was banned by Riot Games in 2016 due to his disruptive in-game behavior. After a two-year hiatus, Tyler1 made a triumphant return to League of Legends on Twitch in 2018. His return stream garnered over 300,000 concurrent viewers, proving that redemption and personal transformation could draw as much attention as controversy.
He has gone on to remain one of the biggest streamers on the platform, and still plays LoL religiously to this day. His return was perhaps the first clear example that an infamous ban could be a net positive, given the attention it would garner. Since then, lots of streamers have experienced a post-ban bounce, with suspensions adding to the popularity.
8: The First Twitch Plays Pokemon (2014)
In 2014, an innovative experiment called Twitch Plays Pokemon took the platform by storm. The interactive stream allowed thousands of users to control a game of Pokemon Red simultaneously through chat commands, leading to a chaotic yet captivating spectacle. The success of Twitch Plays Pokemon spawned a new genre of participatory gaming streams and demonstrated the potential of Twitch as an interactive medium.
7: Ludwig starts Subathon meta (2021)
In March 2021, Ludwig Ahgren embarked on a record-breaking “Subathon”. A Subathon is an event where a streamer extends the duration of their stream when someone subscribes to their channel. In Ludwig’s case, every new subscription added 10 seconds to the stream’s timer.
Ludwig was committed to streaming 24/7, and the stream continued for 31 days straight, from March 14 to April 13. During this time, Ludwig was live on camera for nearly every part of his day, until it reached the cap. The Subathon eventually culminated in a total of 282,847 subscriptions, setting a new record for the most-subscribed streamer on Twitch, surpassing Ninja’s previous record.
Although Ludwig didn’t “invent” the subathon, his success spawned countless more in the years since. Some of the most notable include Kkatamina, Ironmouse (who set the record for most subs for a female streamer), and Emilycc (the longest-running subathon at over 500 days). In 2023, Kai Cenat broke Ludwig’s record with his subathon, reaching 306,621 subsribers.
6: Alinity throws her cat (2019)
Natalia ‘Alinity’ Mogollon is still one of the biggest streamers on Twitch, but has been involved in more than her fair share of controversy over the years. None were more detrimental to her image, however, than when she faced widespread backlash after she tossed her cat over her shoulder during a stream.
Despite outcry from the Twitch community and PETA, Twitch did not penalize Alinity. The incident spurred debates about animal safety, streamer responsibility, and the consistency of Twitch’s disciplinary actions. Alinity later admitted that she “deserved the hate.”
5: Cloud9 Wins CS:GO’s Boston Major (2018)
This list wouldn’t be complete without considering some of the most iconic esports moments that Twitch has played host to. There were a number of options here, such as the beginning of the Overwatch League, countless LoL, and Dota2 finals, and weird and wonderful moments at events. But, in the end, Cloud9 winning the Boston Major, and breaking the viewership record at the same time, has to take the top spot.
All-NA team Cloud9’s victory at the ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 marked a historic moment in esports and Twitch history. Their victory over the heavily favored team, FaZe Clan, marked the first time an American team won a CS:GO Major, and by a team that had been counted out early on. At the time, this grand final set the record for Twitch viewership at 1.3 million, and although that’s been beaten since, it was a massive milestone at the time.
4: Phantoml0rd Banned (2016)
Popular streamer James ‘Phantoml0rd’ Varga was banned from Twitch amid allegations of undisclosed ownership and rigging in a CS:GO skin gambling site he promoted. His scandal exposed the darker side of the gaming industry and started discussions about transparency and ethical conduct in streaming, as well as Twitch’s ban policy.
Phantoml0rd would later take Twitch to court over his ban, where he did in fact achieve a partial victory in 2021, although Twitch was only ordered to pay him $20,720 – not the $100 million he had requested. Twitch was found to have violated a provision in Varga’s contract that he should receive 30 days notice before being banned.
The lawsuit, as well as Phantoml0rd’s content, has had a lasting impact on Twitch, affecting both the site’s ban policy, and the gambling policy. In 2022, as gambling rose in popularity again, Twitch issued a site-wide ban on the majority of gambling content, although it wasn’t a blanket ban on all forms of betting.
3: Shroud and Ninja leave for Mixer (2019)
In a major shift in the streaming industry, top Twitch streamers Michael ‘shroud’ Grzesiek and Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins announced they were moving exclusively to Mixer, a rival platform owned by Microsoft. These departures marked a turning point in the streaming landscape, demonstrating that platform loyalty could be upended by strategic deals.
While these were not the first creators to move platform, at the time, Ninja and shroud were among the top five streamers on Twitch, so it was a massive snag for Mixer. Unfortunately for the Microsoft brand, they were unable to build upon the big names, and the platform eventually shut down, with Ninja and shroud both returning to stream on Twitch. It’s believed they made roughly $10 million out of the deal.
Since then, YouTube, and later Kick, have emerged as true contenders to Twitch’s throne, following Mixer’s strategy of stealing away big Twitch names with lucrative deals.
2: Ninja’s Fortnite stream with Drake and Travis Scott (2018)
When Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins, then the poster boy of Twitch, teamed up with Grammy-winning artist Drake and pal Travis Scott for a Fortnite session in March 2018, it was a watershed moment for the platform. The stream broke Twitch’s concurrent viewer record for a solo streamer with over 600,000 viewers. The event marked the convergence of mainstream entertainment and gaming, solidifying Twitch’s position as a cultural hub.
Ninja went on to become a bonafide celebrity, and the profile of Twitch as a platform was raised massively. Suddenly, there was more mainstream interest than there had ever been, and it was largely thanks to an ex-Halo pro who had become Fortnite’s biggest star.
1: Dr Disrespect’s ban (2020)
On June 26, 2020, the Twitch universe was rocked by the abrupt and unexplained ban of Dr Disrespect. Twitch’s only public comment was a vague statement about violating community guidelines, as if banning the Doc was just like banning any other streamer. The fact it came only a few months after he had signed a multi-year deal with the platform made it even more peculiar.
There are many Dr Disrespect moments that could have made this list, from streaming in the toilets at TwitchCon, to the shocking revelation that he had been unfaithful to his wife, but his ban is easily the most famous of any Twitch ban.
The lack of an explanation led to rampant speculation among the community, making it one of the most discussed controversies in Twitch’s history. To this day, the reason why Dr Disrespect was banned has never been confirmed. Doc said he would take legal action, and Twitch refunded all of his subscribers and removed his emotes. The legal action was “resolved” in an undisclosed settlement, with neither side admitting wrongdoing. Dr Disrespect has streamed exclusively on YouTube ever since. Even years on, there is still no clarity about what happened.
These ten moments, some fun and exciting, others memorable for less savory reasons, have not only shaped the culture of Twitch but have also contributed to the evolving landscape of the gaming and esports industry as a whole. As Twitch continues to grow and innovate, and as rivals circle the platform, we eagerly anticipate the memorable moments yet to come.