What is KomodoHype? How Twitch’s new PogChamp came to be

Pexels, @Andreea / Twitch

Around 2008, a stock photo of an impassioned Komodo dragon hit the internet. Over a decade later, that lizard has become the new face of Twitch’s PogChamp emote. Here’s the story of KomodoHype.

The Komodo dragon is a unique species of lizard indigenous to the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang. Growing up to a maximum length of 10 feet and 150 pounds, the lizards are absolute beasts that prey on everything from unsuspecting birds to…horses.

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While it has been widely speculated that the Komodo dragon possesses venomous saliva capable of upending larger mammals, that research is disputed. What cannot be disputed, however, is that a seemingly smiling Komodo, known as KomodoHype, has officially infected and spread throughout Twitch.

Just a month of experimentation after the platform removed the original PogChamp emote, KomodoHype has been crowned the permanent successor. Based on a circa-2008 stock photo, the cropped lizard emote has emerged and is now here to stay.

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The origins of KomodoHype

According to KnowYourMeme, the original Komodo dragon stock photo was shared on the now-defunct Daqi website around 2008. In the years since, the possibly smiling, possibly surprised, undoubtedly hype lizard has been photoshopped and edited across the likes of DeviantArt and Reddit.

A decade later, in 2018, KomodoHype — a cropped, face-focused emote of the original stock image — began circulating on Twitch. While it didn’t gain enough traction to become universally known, that changed in January 2021 when the removal of PogChamp opened a vacuum for a non-problematic emote with similar energy. Quickly, KomodoHype grew a cult following, as streamer communities (like xQc’s) promoting the charismatic reptile.

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After weeks of daily changes to the PogChamp emote based on community submissions, Twitch finally conducted a “PogChampening” contest to decide the winner. Narrowing the options down to 35, KomodoHype was crowned veritable lizard king and Pog Champion on February 12.

What happened to the original PogChamp?

As for the original PogChamp emote, which was based on Ryan ‘Gootecks’ Gutierrez, it was removed from Twitch in January 2021 following some comments from Gutierrez about the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Deciding that the original emote’s inspiration had been “encouraging further violence” due to some tweets about the day’s events, Twitch removed his face from the platform entirely.

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Now, at long last, Gutierrez has a successor. And, with lizards lacking the opposable thumbs needed for Twitter, KomodoHype appears destined for lifetime rule as Twitch’s new PogChamp.

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