June 20, 2020 — Dr. Alok Kanojia, or Dr. K, posts another live interview with a Twitch streamer discussing mental health. The guest is Blair, a variety streamer monikered QTCinderella (or QT), with the topic of confidence. QT’s worried. She had just put in her two-week notice at her day job, making the full commitment to streaming. During the talk, QT opens up about some of the issues she faces as a streamer, and how her perfectionism made it a difficult endeavor.
“I’ve always said to myself that I couldn’t handle Twitch mentally as a full-time job, so I’m very scared,” QT stated. “Going into Twitch, knowing that I’ll never be at the top is very daunting. Because I find… and I’ve said this to a lot of people, because I felt very defeated quitting my job. Because I find my self-worth 100% in ‘Oh, she is successful.’ And now I’m not that. And so it’s like, ‘Well, who am I?’”
March 12, 2022 — The Streamer Awards are finishing up their inaugural event. With some of the biggest content creators in attendance — Félix "xQc" Lengyel, Imane “Pokimane” Anys, and Rachell "Valkyrae" Hofstetter being the tip of the iceberg — the event receives incredible acclaim. At its peak, QT’s channel (the host) peaks at more than 380,000 viewers. As the event concludes, cohost Maya Higa offers some praise in her closing remarks, stating, “I’ve been up here the whole time, and I’m so, so honored to be a part of this event. I know my name is all over it, but this is all QT.” Like a thunderclap, the audience applauds.
Things change quickly, don’t they?
In less than a year, QT has become one of the most significant people on Twitch. She doesn’t have enormous audiences like xQc or Asmongold every night she streams. She hasn’t had a record-breaking subathon like Ludwig Ahgren or Ironmouse. She has, however, been one of the masterminds in Twitch’s changing landscape to collaborative content. The Roast of Ludwig, Sh*tcamp, and now The Streamer Awards are some of the most notable live streaming events in memory. This is how she did it.
The Roast of Ludwig
The first major event in QT’s streaming career had modest origins — a surprise for her partner. Ludwig was nearing his third year of streaming. For the occasion, QT organized a roast (think Dean Martin or Comedy Central) with some of his closest friends and colleagues.
This was not the first roast of the streaming era. TwitchCon had a roast centered around Timothy “TimTheTatman” Betar. The Smash scene — Ludwig’s community of origin — had some for Hugo "HugS" Gonzalez and Bobby "Scar" Scarnewman. Compared to the others, who had the organizational backing of companies like Twitch and Beyond the Summit, the Roast of Ludwig was all QT and her team.
The event had the personal and polished touch that would come to define QT’s next events. Instead of buttoned-up, unimaginative reading of ghostwritten jokes — a standard for most roasts — Ludwig’s roast was simply a group of friends ribbing each other, many of them sharing personal stories. But behind that, the meticulous organizational machine of QT was working full steam: from hiring quality support staff, to choosing a suitable venue in the midst of the pandemic and scheduling rapid COVID tests for all the ones invited. Everything was clockwork, yet still felt special. Compared to The Roast of Mizkif which happened the same month, the attention to detail for The Roast of Ludwig was insane — right down to a specially commissioned painting of Ludwig for the event.
“I am a perfectionist, and so it's usually after the event that I really kick myself,” QT told Inven Global about her strive for polish. “At The Roast of Ludwig (maybe no one noticed this), we had two different camera angles. And for some reason they had two different presets on them, so one was more orange-hued and one was more white-hued. And it still drives me insane. I still think about it.”
QT’s ambition to bring people together dates back to her teenage years. To Inven Global, she recalled organizing parties such as an Alice in Wonderland murder-mystery dinner. But if thousands tune in today to watch her Twitch events, only half the invites showed up in Wonderland.
“I was super bullied in high school. I didn't necessarily fit in. And so the cool thing about the streaming industry is it's a bunch of people that didn't fit in,” QT said. “A lot of streamers have the same background as me. And so I'm on my island of misfit toys, but now I am the one with the ability to want to bring people together.”
QT took some time to arrive to where she is now. The anxieties from her high school years were strong in her early years of streaming and weighed her down significantly. It wasn’t until her friend and fellow streamer Malena Tudi organized Sh*tcon — a parody event of the then-cancelled-for-COVID TwitchCon — that QT rediscovered for passion for streaming.
Sh*tcon’s concept was simple: invite a handful of the biggest streamers on the site to come together in Austin, Texas and stream content for a few hours. But as the best simple things in the world, it was also just a great product. The event’s reception was glowing, with many fans calling it one of the best streams of the year.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I hit a bit of a standstill with COVID, where I felt like I wasn't really going anywhere with streaming. I wasn't providing anything. I didn't feel driven. And then my friend Malena planned Sh*tcon. And I went to it, and everyone loved it”, QTCinderalla said. “And so it's really Malena that inspired me to get back into it. Maybe they didn't come to my parties when I was 16. But maybe they'll come now.”
It was during Sh*tcon that QT pitched to Malena about a collaborative event later in the year in California, and so Sh*tcamp was born. It was a far more ambitious event that the Roast of Ludwig — more ambitions than Sh*tcon too, in fact. Instead of a few hours, the event would go for almost a week, welcoming 16 regular streamers as well as guests throughout. Under the hood would be the familiar QT engine, running the show.
By the time Sh*tcamp rolled around, QT’s project management perfection made it the benchmark for collaborative content. By using her experience in corporate management and the Franklin Covey Time Management System, she made spreadsheet after spreadsheet coming up with content ideas, assigning them to participants’ channels, and scheduling them in the most effective way possible. Some of the events included an in-real-life scavenger hunt, a pajama party, and a thirty-two-person kickball tournament featuring members of 100 Thieves and OfflineTV.
Swept by a torrent of ideation, Sh*tcamp was quickly approaching a content overload, to the point participants started raising concerns about whether all of it is too much.
“I actually did get some pushback from some of the streamers attending when they saw the schedule. They were like, ‘QT, no one's gonna like this schedule. Viewers aren't gonna like this, they're gonna feel like there's too much going on — we're not just chilling. It's too structured.’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. It's all about having a plan and then letting the plan live.’ I don't show up to girl's night and say, 'Okay, now we have to do nail polish. Now we have to do this. Now we have to do that.' I have everything provided there. And then you let it flow naturally. And you let streamers do what they do best. And that's improv. All streamers are just amazing improvers. So as long as you have fun tools for them to improv with, and activities — then you're always going to have a lovely stream without it being over-produced.”
As QT predicted, it worked beautifully. The event was a rousing success: it averaged more than 65,000 viewers throughout the event, received tons of enthusiasm from fans, as well as words of praise from all the creators involved. Several of the smaller streamers like Cyr, AustinShow, and QT herself received boosts in popularity following Sh*tcamp, and QT recalls the splash it created in the streaming industry — 100 Thieves soon organized their own camping-themed event, Twitch Rivals organizers told QT Sh*tcamp inspired their event, and OfflineTV founder William “Scarra” Li told her directly how important he thought her events were to streaming. From all looks, it was a near-perfect project.
“When Sh*tcamp ended, everyone went around the room, we popped champagne, we gave high-fives, they said, ‘Let's go to the club!’ I stayed at the hotel and I cried. I was exhausted. I felt like it was a failure because everyone was tired the last day, and so the last stream wasn't super hype. I felt like I didn't do good enough. I felt too many people didn't get the opportunity to stream. I internalized all of this. And I just felt bad,” said QT.
“The after-effect of these things — I take it really personally because I just want it to be better.”
And it was about to get better.
The Streamer Awards
One of the main problems QT saw in Sh*tcamp was that there were people she couldn’t invite, but it was an issue that couldn’t be solved simply by scaling up. Doubling, or even tripling the occupancy wouldn’t have made a dent.
Sh*tcamp wasn’t the solution to massive streamers-centric events, but it was the inspiration for what became the Streamer Awards. QT pitched the idea to Twitch, but the company came back with the exact project scope she was trying to avoid: over a year of production and corporate involvement to make it ready for TwitchCon. Like everything before it, QT would have to build it herself from ground zero, if she wanted it to fit her vision.
The plans were ambitious. QT’s dream called for over 200 of the biggest streamers in the world, a quality that rivals other industry award shows, all done in under six months. As she got to work, however, QT understood that the hardest task wasn’t managing logistics, navigating COVID-19 testing, or even putting up tens of thousands of her own money without a clear ROI.
It was inviting the people.
“The thing that's making me most anxious is just the social anxiety of reaching out to people that maybe you admire from the sidelines, that you've never really had a conversation with, and being like, ‘Hey, my name is Blair. I don't really know you. But I'd love for you to come this event because it's just gonna be a fun time.’”
As the Streamer Awards went live from Hollywood on Mar. 12, the guest list was full. Streamers from almost every corner of the internet were in attendance, from WoW and Smash, to ASMR and Vtubing.
The Streamer Awards would break ground in others ways. The original plan was to have the awards on xQc’s stream, and have him cohost. As the biggest streamer on Twitch, it was a no-brainer. Another idea was to a cohost with Matthew “Mizkif” Rinaudo — a dear friend of hers, and another wildly popular streamer. And, of course, hosting with her partner Ludwig seemed like an obvious choice.
However, with all those choices, QT saw a problem: "If I do it with this big male streamer, when I can't even do a Female Streamer of the Year Award, then what am I doing? I'm just highlighting another big male streamer and I'm giving them my thing. And it was Pokimane, actually, who told me — she was like, 'Girlfriend, you need to do this on your channel no matter what. No matter who you do it with, you need to do it on your channel.'" She chose to host the event with Maya Higa. They not only had strong chemistry with one another, but QT saw it as a great opportunity to a highlight another female streamer.
Over 380,000 concurrent viewers tuned in at peak viewership for the Streamer Awards — higher than any of QT’s contemporaries did — presenting a polished product that nevertheless stayed true to the streaming industry. It didn’t force ads down your throat, yet it still had production that rivaled that of industry award shows with multi-million dollar budgets.
“You actually got the sense that you're at an actual award show — minus somebody getting slapped on stage,” Super Smash Bros. Ultimate commentator and streamer Phil “EE” Visu quipped.
A month later, QT’s streamer awards are a benchmark and arguably the greatest collaborative effort any streamer has put together so far. More than that, its self-awareness and authenticity are a rare breath of fresh air, which other awards shows often tend to forget.
A Christmas Concert
At the start of her Twitch career, QT was on a journey of self-discovery, seeking the answer to a question so many of us go through: "Who am I?"
She seems to have finally found it. When speaking to a group of streamers at yet another event of hers, choking up, she zeroed in on her ultimate goal: "I want to help people that feel alone.”
From going through her social media posts and streams, videos on her ideals, and speaking with her — it's clear that she bleeds this ideal. More than a comedic stream, the Roast of Ludwig was a chance for close friends to share some laughs. More than an ambitious collaboration, Sh*tcamp was friends forming memories together. And more than an industry celebration, The Streamer Awards were a bridge for that island of misfit toys to connect with other atolls.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.