What Do “Pogchamp” and “Poggers” Mean? Twitch Meme Origins

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If you’ve frequented Twitch, or any other platform rooted in gaming, you’ve no doubt seen other users throwing around the phrase “poggers” when someone makes a good play or something crazy happens. But, as so often happens with almost any meme you may encounter in these communities, you may have no idea what the origin and meaning of the word is. Even though as a gaming/internet meme, poggers was introduced several years back, it dug itself into common internet vernacular and it can be frustrating to understand how or when to use the phrase. On top of that, poggers was involved in a hefty bit of controversy that can be difficult to upack. But have no fear – ggn00b is here for you.

To get to the bottom of it all, it’s actually best to start way back at the beginning. Poggers evolved from a classic emote and meme known as “pogchamp.” In a 2010 blooper reel from a Youtube show called Cross Counter TV that was put on by Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez and Mike Ross, Gootecks made the now iconic face in response to a cameraman accidentally bumping into the tripod they were using. Soon after in 2011, the pair produced a promo for a special Mad Catz Joystick which featured a throwback game of pogs. At the end of the promo, Gootecks proclaims himself “Pog Champion.” When you put it together, Gootecks face and the viral pogchamp meme took off.

Beginning even a couple years earlier in 2008, Pepe the Frog started gaining traction as an internet meme of its own. Pepe the Frog actually came from a comic created by Matt Furie called Boy’s Club, in which Pepe was one of the main characters. One of the comics took off on the popular website 4chan and the Pepe the Frog meme took off from there. Since then, Pepe has received various treatments for use as emotes in any number of reaction moments. Our “poggers” emote is one of these. It was first used in 2017 and has gained popularity since. The Pepe the Frog poggers meme is really just the Pepe version of the Gootecks pogchamp meme, and both of which are often used as excited or surprised reaction emotes.

Pepe the Frog as an activist symbol

In most normal situations this would actually be the end of the story. We’ve covered the emotes and memes and given the history behind where they came from, but this particular pair of emotes actually have some additional drama around them. As mentioned, Pepe the Frog gained momentum and popularity once it was shared on 4chan. Then over the years, 4chan became a sort of haven for white supremacy and the alt-right. As a result, Pepe the Frog became a meme synonymous with the alt-right, even leading the comic’s creator to release a comic in which he killed off the character.

Similarly, the pogchamp emote also became embroiled in controversy on January 6h of 2021 when an insurrection took place at the US Capitol building. In response to the insurrection, Gootecks tweeted:

In response, Twitch took quick action deciding to ban the emote from the site forever. For a while, the platform rotated different streamers in place of Gootecks while trying to make sure the pogchamp meme could live on despite the fact that the original face of the meme was now something of a representative of the unsavory and violent actions of the criminals who stormed the Capitol building. Since then, Twitch decided to full re-release “pogchamp” with a new face voted on by users – that of a komodo dragon.

When all is said and done, I guess it’s important not to get too attached to the emotes and memes we know and love. After all, 2 of Twitch’s most popular and oldest memes have now become associated with some of the most contentious topics in existence today, and as a result one of them has been wholly replaced!

Well, there you have it. That should cover everything you ever wanted to know about what pogchamp and poggers mean on Twitch (and probably even some things you didn’t care to know)! Use all the memes and emotes you possibly can, because they’re super fun!