The popular Team Fortress 2 YouTuber known as Sketchek has returned to the platform after a three-year hiatus with a new video in which he admits to having lied about being terminally ill.
In a now-deleted video originally uploaded to YouTube in November 2015, Sketchek told his fans in the Team Fortress 2 community that he was suffering from a disease affecting his nervous system and that he didn’t have long to live. “I’m very ill, my health is gradually deteriorating, and the clock is ticking, so to speak,” he said at the time. Now, in his first YouTube appearance since, as first reported by PCGamesN, Sketchek admitted that he was lying.
“I thought it would be fun to convince a lot of people that care about me that I would fucking die,” he said. “I’ve been feeling really bad about it lately. I can no longer bear the weight of my sins, which is why I’ve decided to come out with the truth and apologize for lying.”
“Holy shit, dude. I’m glad you’re okay,” begins the top comment on the new apology video, followed by a post-publication edit: “Well, damn, that’s a shame. Incredibly disappointed.”
Sketchek’s YouTube videos highlighted Team Fortress 2 gameplay that ranged from humorous moments to showing off his high level of skill with the character Pyro. The videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views in some cases, and Sketchek became a beloved figure in the Team Fortress 2 community.
Following his announcement of his “illness” and departure from the game, Valve even added a special new ability to one of Pyro’s unlockable melee weapons, the Axtinguisher, in March 2018 called Sketchek’s Bequest. “Killing blows on burning players grant a speed boost,” the text for it read. Neither Sketchek nor Valve immediately responded to a request for comment for this story. Sketchek did say in the comments of his latest video that he doesn’t deserve the tribute and hopes it’s removed soon.
Sketchek never went into detail about his supposed medical issues in his 2015 video. “I’ve been talking to doctors and patients with other horrible illnesses such as cancer, and most would agree that talking about your misfortune more than is necessary sucks the life out of whoever’s listening, especially yourself,” he said at the time. He told viewers that he wanted to spend what time he had left with family and doing things unrelated to YouTube and video games.
Some of Sketchek’s fans first speculated he might still be alive after the 2015 video was made private seven months later. Few seem to have been prepared for the possibility that he had faked his illness altogether. On February 5, Sketchek tweeted from a new Twitter account: “kept you waiting huh.” A day later he tweeted out his apology video, calling his actions “a sick joke.”
“I am of the opinion you should be able to joke about anything you want as long as it’s funny, but in this case, it really wasn’t funny,” he said. “I really don’t have an excuse. I mean, what can I say, I just really love the feeling of taking someone for a ride. I just took it too far this time.”
In the apology video, Sketchek said that he wanted to take a break from games because he had been socializing more in the real world, and Team Fortress had lost much of its appeal. “Somewhere along the way, I came to the conclusion that video games had ruined my life,” he said. In the 2015 video, Sketchek said that he was done with the game, and that even if he somehow recovered from his supposed illness, he wouldn’t return to it.
It’s unclear when exactly Sketchek started playing Team Fortress 2 again, or if indeed he ever stopped, but he said he decided to return now for the simple fact that he misses playing the game and making videos about it. While some viewers feel angry and betrayed, others appear willing to give Sketchek a second chance.
“It is good that he is well after all,” wrote one person on Reddit. “[It’s] kind of fun what’s possible in the internet.”