Ali “Myth” Kabbani is the second most-followed streamer on Twitch, but he’s also just a 19 year-old kid—one who, unlike most other 19 year-old kids, has to deal with boatloads of hate every day. Now he’s putting his foot down.
Myth first rose to popularity thanks to his superhuman Fortnite building skills. He helped popularize the play style now in use by just about every high-level streamer and pro, in which they win pitched battles by pulling labyrinths out of thin air faster than you can blink. Now, as a part of esports organization TSM, Myth has had trouble keeping pace with the Fortnite pro scene that Epic has been fostering this summer. Despite his best efforts, Myth never made it into the top ten of any Summer Skirmish series tournaments, nor was he anywhere to be found on the overall list of top earners.
Myth blames this, partially, on Twitch chat. He’s been streaming his pro scrimmages for a while, but after an especially rough stream yesterday evening, he said on Twitter that soon he’s either going to shut off Twitch chat while scrimming or stop streaming scrims entirely.
“This is happening because of the overwhelming amount of negativity I receive when scrimming,” he wrote. “It’s not a healthy environment for me to improve and it does effect [sic] me. Sorry, I’m human.”
He also reminded fans that, despite how big of a deal he’s become, he’s just 19, and he’s “experiencing the most amount of just sheer hate thrown my way.”
During yesterday’s stream, the toxic element of Myth’s chat got a boost after his channel was hosted by Twitch’s headband-wearing household name, Ninja. Viewers spammed messages like “Myth you’re going down the shitter,” “suck dick,” “cancer,” “why is he playing like a bitch,” and my personal favorite: “This chat is worse than the COD Black Ops 2 game chat.”
Myth’s decision has been met with a mixed reaction. Some fans are sad because they say they watch his streams to learn, even when he loses. Others think the negativity shouldn’t affect his performance if he’s really a professional, or that he’s “overrated” and using chat as an excuse. There are also some who blame Myth for the current state of affairs, saying that he’s turned toxic on his own chat. Others say he was just pushing back against the negative tone of his chat.
“‘Talk shit to his chat?’” said one fan on Twitter. “You mean when someone wrote ‘the stream is unwatchable,’ and he responded ‘don’t watch it then’? If you think that’s shit-talking, you’re soft.”
“That doesn’t justify any of the comments that are made,” said another fan. They went on to reference one instance in Myth’s chat where he received negative comments for stretching his screen resolution in order to increase his framerate and field of view. “We’re not talking about the ‘[resolution] is trash’ comments. We’re talking about blind awful hate towards Myth himself. It’s disturbing.”
Myth’s youth leaves him in an especially odd spot because he functions almost as an avatar for his younger viewers. If things were just a little bit different, they—not Myth—might be 19 year-old millionaire Fortnite phenoms. There’s an element of jealousy there, certainly, but it goes deeper than that. Due to the Fortnite scene’s personality-driven nature, there’s a hometown-hero-like culture around people supporting their favorite streamers in pro events. Fans “hang out” with these streamers on the daily, and young fans turn to them for inspiration and even support. The amount of time pros spend doing this alone results in a huge emotional investment. As a result, streamers’ successes are fans’ successes, and streamers’ failures are fans’ failures. Sometimes, those failures lead to resentment, which then boils over in Twitch chat.
Myth is by no means perfect: he gets emotional on stream, and sometimes he lashes out. But he’s also a young person who is still learning and growing, both in terms of his Fortnite skills and in how he deals with his fans. That in mind, many fans seem understanding of Myth’s decision and know he has to juggle the pressures of being both a top-level entertainer and player.
“I don’t understand how people can be so rude to someone who is trying to make everyone happy and pleased,” wrote a young fan. “LIKE HE IS TRYING HIS BEST EVERYONE HAS ROOM FOR IMPROVING.”
Other streamers and pros are also behind Myth because they’ve had similar experiences with their own fans.
“People seem to forget with any athlete, pro gamer, influencer, celebrity etc that constant abuse and negativity effects [sic] them as well,” fellow pro Fortnite player WizKay said on Twitter. “Truly unacceptable.”
“You’re a good dude, Myth,” said esports caster Phil Visu. “In Smash, we got 16 and 17 year old kids getting threatened and hated on cause of character selection, but they just undercover fans. Keep grinding.”
Fortnite pro Ceice summed up how to deal with people hurling insults in chat. “Fuck ‘em,” he said.