Shroud's Twitch Return Pulls More Than 500,000 Concurrent Viewers, Despite Technical Troubles

Illustration for article titled Shroud's Twitch Return Pulls More Than 500,000 Concurrent Viewers, Despite Technical Troubles
Image: Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek / Twitch

Aim god Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek returned to Twitch today, after a saga that included an exclusive deal with Microsoft-owned streaming platform Mixer last year, Mixer’s sudden demise in June of this year, and a months-long period of uncertainty about where he’d land. He was greeted by hundreds of thousands of viewers. And technical problems.


Grzesiek was scheduled to begin streaming at 11 PM PDT/2 PM ET, but even though his channel went live, it remained at a “Starting Soon” splash screen for 50 minutes. Viewers stuck it out, with the channel’s viewer count surging the entire time. Before Grzesiek even arrived, 380,000 viewers crowded into a chat that continuously soared upward like it was late for an appointment with god. Entities like CashApp and people like streamer/musician Jordan Fisher gifted subscriptions to viewers as they waited.

After 50 minutes, Grzesiek’s new intro—a quick highlight reel splattered with shimmering blue graphics—played, but it was entirely silent. It was a contrast to other recent Twitch returns, which have focused on polished style and flash. But that’s never really been Grzesiek’s thing. He’s certainly improved his production values and refined his approach as he’s grown from a pro gamer into one of the biggest streamers in the world, but in a lot of ways, he’s a throwback: He’s a nice dude who chills out and plays games. He’s really, really good at them. That’s pretty much his whole thing.

When Grzesiek finally arrived, his chat immediately noticed that he had a beard and glasses.

“You can call me Uncle Shroud, if you want,” Grzesiek said. “I like that.”

Later, people compared his new look to Adam Sandler from the movie Uncut Gems. “I love Adam Sandler,” he said, chuckling.

Once the stream began in earnest, the viewer count shot up again, until it briefly hovered at above 510,000. Grzesiek was dumbfounded, saying during the stream that he expected 150,000 or 200,000 viewers, but not more than double that.

“I don’t know why there’s so many of you here, but I appreciate it. Thank you. I’m just a normal dude who likes to play games a lot. Too much, sometimes,” he said. “At first I wasn’t [nervous], but then I saw the viewers climbing and thought I didn’t deserve it... I’m just a guy who plays games.”


“I’m not gonna have crazy epic seven-minute [intro] driving in a Lamborghini rolling down the window shouting at kids like an old man,” he said, referencing Guy “Dr Disrespect” Beahm, who recently made a controversial return of his own on YouTube. “But I bet most of you expected that, and I’m sorry.”

He went on to attribute the slow start to “technical difficulties.” Specifically, he messed up his stream’s resolution by setting it to 720p instead of 1080p and tried to change it without restarting his stream. That, apparently, caused a cascading series of other issues.


He also revealed that his original plan was to go live yesterday in conjunction with the announcement of his new Twitch deal, but then he realized that he had to do a raid in World of Warcraft. “I didn’t want my first stream to be WoW,” he said, noting that it would have been “weird” because people mostly know him as a shooter player. “It is what it is. I play WoW, sue me. Please don’t sue me.”

Grzesiek then grouped up with other streamers, including Jordan Fisher, Justin “Just9n” Ortiz, and Hannah “Bnans” Kennedy, and played Valorant. Throughout the session, other popular streamers like Imane “Pokimane” Anys, Félix “xQc” Lengyel, and Tyler “Trainwrecks” Niknam made guest appearances in chat. “Everybody is here!” exclaimed one viewer in chat.


True to form, Grzesiek spent most of his time either quietly playing Valorant or quipping and laughing about the game. When Anys, who is currently taking a break from streaming due to burnout (and in the aftermath of drama sparked by an opportunistic YouTuber), popped in, Grzesiek extolled the virtues of vacations, having just returned from one of his own that lasted more than a month. “I hope you’re enjoying your break,” he said. “Breaks are good. Really, they’re great.”

As of now, the stream is still going, with Grzesiek slowly shaking off stream rust. He and his team lost their first Valorant match pretty badly, but there will doubtless be many, many more.


“I don’t know how many people were sitting here waiting for something grand when I knew exactly what I was going to do,” Grzesiek said. “I’m gonna show up and play games. That’s all I’m gonna do. And of course screw up my intro video by not having any audio.”

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Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.


Remember when “big streamers” left Twitch, and it was kind of a big deal? Now they go back, and it’s kind of a big deal as well. Almost like very few people were willing to follow streamers around to other places. As if the platform is actually way more important than any of the entertainers in it.

I mean, does anyone remember Facebook has a streaming service? It seemed to be a big deal not so very long ago.

Sarcasm aside, I guess everyone learned a big lesson from that experiment with Microsoft and its failed service. Streamers learned that their audience isn’t really as “loyal” to them as they thought.

More importantly, Twitch learned that they don’t need to keep throwing money at people to try and keep them around. I think those new contracts must be missing a few digits compared to offers from a couple of months ago.