Where does PogChamp come from?
The chat feature on Twitch uses small images called emotes in the same way that other social media platforms use emoji or emoticons. These include the standard illustrated faces, but also photographs of faces of the software developers behind the program and notable streamers. Users can simply type the name of the desired emote into the chat bar and the program will display the image.
The PogChamp emote shows streamer Ryan Gutierrez, known as Gootecks, making an exaggeratedly surprised face, his mouth open and eyes wide. The image is pulled from an outtake from Gutierrez’s YouTube series (with fellow gamer Mike Ross) Counter Cross TV. The outtake, uploaded in November 2010, includes Gutierrez’s surprised reaction to a cameraman bumping his tripod.
The name PogChamp comes from another video, uploaded in 2011, featuring Gutierrez and Ross. In a promo video, called “Pogs Championship,” for a MadCatz-brand joystick, the two play Pogs, the disk-flipping game popular in the 1990s. In the end, Gutierrez wins by dropping the joystick on the stack of Pogs, becoming the Pog champion.
By 2012, Twitch added the image of the surprised Gutierrez, from the outtake video, to its list of global emotes (available to all users), under the name PogChamp. PogChamp has since become one of the site’s most popular emotes. Gutierrez himself has capitalized on the image’s popularity, selling a t-shirt with the image in an Andy Warhol-esque style.
Who uses PogChamp?
PogChamp is strongly associated with gaming culture and with Twitch users specifically. According to a Twitch video on the history of the emote, PogChamp has “become a universal symbol of hype and excitement” for its gamers, frequently used as a reaction to some content or development in a game they are watching. What’s more, linguist Gretchen McCullough, notes that emotes like PogChamp fulfill a “need of social bonding and social cohesiveness." Twitch streamer Brian Ericson similarly points out that an emote can be used as “an inside joke.” In that vein, some users use the image or even the word PogChamp outside of Twitch chats to express the sentiment of extreme surprise. Naturally, someone would have to be familiar with the image to get the joke.
“StarCraft 3?! Woah! PogChamp!”
Bovinity Divinity Mmo-champion (June 25, 2016)
“He heavily favors Twitch chat, so if you don’t enjoy hearing memes or know what a ‘pogchamp’ is, he might be best to avoid.”
Steven Asarch, “'World Of Warcraft: Legion' Streams: Top 3 To Watch On Launch Day,” International Business Times (August 30, 2016)
“‘PogChamp’ is the only response I can think of.”
Julia Lee, “League of Legends is finally building a sandbox mode, called Practice Tool,” SB Nation (March 16, 2017)