Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Bizarre Story Behind Pokimane's Rise To Fame

There are many millions of streamers going live at any given time, and further millions of live viewers watching their favorite streamer play the latest video game releases. One such streamer is Imane Anys, a.k.a. Pokimane. In the past, Pokimane has been referred to as the "most popular woman on Twitch," and the people saying that aren't exactly exaggerating. 

As one of the most popular streamers on one of the biggest platforms today, Anys has done quite well for herself. But how well? Some reports have claimed that her net worth is between $1-2 million. On that topic, however, Poki herself shot down the number, meaning the exact number remains a mystery — for now.

It's not all about money for Pokimane, though. Despite earning a considerable amount — thanks to her 7.2 million followers on Twitch — Anys ultimately decided to cap her stream donations to $5. Instead, she told fans, "treat yourselves."

Here's the bizarre story of Pokimane's success, her rise to fame, and the reason why so many tune in for each stream.

Pokimane's college days

Like many streamers, Pokimane's success came after an immense amount of hard work, as well as a bit of luck. Before finding her footing on Twitch, the popular streamer attended McMaster University in Ontario. There, she studied Chemical Engineering — a challenging degree program that can lead to comfy job opportunities after graduation. For example, the average chemical engineer earns about $75,000 per year to start.

That's no small sum, which makes it even more surprising to learn that Poki ultimately decided to drop out of college to pursue streaming full-time. As for why she made that move, the streamer has cited struggles balancing her love of streaming with the challenge of back-to-back classes. At times, she found herself working 12 hours a day, barely juggling coursework with her stream schedule.

Her decision proved fruitful. In 2017, Poki's viewership numbers from her regular League of Legends streams began to soar dramatically.

Co-founding OfflineTV

After gaining a huge following and finding success on Twitch, Pokimane partnered with other streamers to create OfflineTV, a collaborative network of content creators. The goal of OfflineTV was to show the world the behind-the-scenes lives of popular streamers and to push high-quality content. 

Pokimane was, of course, not alone in this venture. Many believe she joined the outfit later on in its lifespan but the reality is, in her own words, she was there at the inception. Poki was joined by the likes of Scarra (William Li), LilyPichu (Lily Ki), Michael Reeves, Yvonnie (Yvonne Ng), and Disguised Toast (Jeremy Wang). Together, the group formed OfflineTV, and Poki claims to have actually come up with the name for the collective.

The move to join forces ended up working out for the team, as the OfflineTV YouTube channel produces content for over 2 million followers and countless viewers. The channel regularly uploads vlogs and behind-the-scenes clips, as well as IRL content that details what being a streamer is genuinely like, for those who may not realize what goes on once a stream concludes.

Partnered streams and hard-earned awards

Gaining new followers, becoming a Twitch Partner, and enjoying the benefits of countless new subscribers each day are already impressive feats. However, Pokimane's profile rose even higher in 2018, thanks to a hard-earned award and partnered streams alongside big-name stars, like the NBA's Josh Hart.

First, Pokimane won the 10th Shorty Award for Best Twitch Streamer in 2018. It was a well-deserved award that highlighted her impressive growth on the streaming service in such a short time period, but that wasn't the only exciting thing to happen for her in 2018.

Poki also partnered with Epic Games for a sponsored Fortnite event in the same year. Initially, the plan was for Pokimane and rapper Desiigner to come together to dominate the battlefield live for millions of viewers to see. Desiigner, unfortunately, dropped out at the last minute. To replace him, the event hosts managed to nab Josh Hart of the New Orleans Pelicans to play alongside the popular streamer. Hart is no stranger to the game, and even plays in his spare time, making his participation in the stream a no-brainer for Epic.

Becoming a Twitch Ambassador

As a streamer who saw immense growth on Twitch, it makes total sense that the platform would want to partner with Pokimane for bigger events. In 2018, Pokimane partnered with the streaming platform for a number of events. This was no ordinary partnership, though. Not only would Pokimane serve as one of 15 ambassadors for TwitchCon 2018, but she would also would work on multiple videos for the Twitch Creator Camp.

What is Creator Camp, you ask? The camp is Twitch's official guidebook, or blog, which helps new content creators find their footing and produce the best, highest quality streams possible. Having Pokimane front-and-center for some of these tutorials, showing that anyone can make it big, was probably a smart move on Twitch's part. In this way, not only was Pokimane enjoying her new following, with countless viewers every stream, but she was quickly becoming the face of the next streaming generation. She was helping newcomers learn the ropes, thereby increasing her own brand recognition in the process.

Twitch exclusivity

Finding success on Twitch can be quite the challenge, as you can see from the many millions of channels streaming at any given time. But for Pokimane, success came rather quickly. She gained tons of followers, enacted a consistent streaming schedule, and made moves on the platform that put her at the forefront.

Her fans knew something big was coming, though some were a little nervous about the future of her channel. On her Twitter account, Poki teased a big announcement to come. Speculation arose and spread like wildfire, but Poki quickly reigned in the rumors with a short video, revealing a multi-year exclusivity deal with Twitch. As a follow-up to her short clip on Twitter, Pokimane released a video on her YouTube channel, talking about other streaming platforms and her decision to stick with Twitch.

At a time when other big-name streamers, including Ninja, were switching to competing platforms like Mixer, Pokimane's exclusivity deal with Twitch was a big win for the streaming platform.

Pokimane flourishes on YouTube

For many content creators, transitioning from YouTube to Twitch comes at a natural plateau. Eventually, uploading videos once or twice per week can stagnate. When that happens, interaction between streamer and fanbase can drop, leaving an entire community hungry for even more content. It makes sense to start streaming consistently to deliver the kind of live gameplay and commentary that the community enjoys.

Pokimane essentially went the opposite way. She started on Twitch, then opened up two separate YouTube channels, both of which have enjoyed a good bit of success. Her main channel focuses on her gaming clips from her streams and vlogs. Her second channel, which is less active, focuses on ASMR content, including whispering videos. Both channels have millions of subscribers, which has led to

N? to further success and ad revenue for Pokimane's growing operation.

In starting up these two channels, Pokimane diversified her content in a way that didn't add an excessive amount of work on her part, while still focusing on the medium that made her famous.

Cloak creative director

Clothing for gamers, by gamers — sounds like a fun idea, right? In 2018, prominent YouTubers Jacksepticeye and Markiplier put their heads together and came up with a clothing brand called Cloak, which is aimed at content creators and gamers alike. In their words, Cloak is for "people like us, who game all day."

In June 2020, as Pokimane was still diversifying her portfolio, she announced that she was joined the clothing company as a partner and creative director. Her latter role allows her to help with the designs and brand recognition of the up-and-coming clothing line.

In February 2021, Poki released a brand-new clothing collection through Cloak called Self Love Story. This collection features several sweatshirts and t-shirts featuring the Cloak logo, as well as anime-inspired artwork adorning the front and back of multiple pieces in the collection.

What the future holds for Pokimane and Cloak remains to be seen, but Poki is clearly enjoying her role in the company.

Pokimane's controversies

No streamer is immune to controversy. It seems like the longer you spend time interacting with fans and other content creators, the more likely you are to endure severe arguments and mishaps online. It happens to everyone, even Pokimane, who has feuded with more than a few famous people.

In mid-2020, Pokimane found herself in hot water after accidentally opening a link to an adult website while streaming to countless viewers. For her transgression, some fellow streamers called for her to be banned. Ultimately, she received a warning from Twitch, which she said was "deserved."

In 2018, Pokimane and Keemstar duked it out online after the latter posted a video picking fun at Halloween costumes, including one Pokimane wore. Keemstar also argued with some of Poki's fans, which the streamer took personally, leading to a significant feud.

Pokimane received advice from someone within the community to copyright strike a video by YouTuber BowBlax, which documented the feud between Poki and Keem. BowBlax's video was taken down almost immediately by YouTube, which led to a significant backlash against Poki for seemingly striking a video simply because she was mad about it. She has since apologized, saying she should have taken a different course of action.

Venturing into Rust

In December 2020, OfflineTV entered the world of Rust. The crew launched its very own server, one with very specific rules laid out by the team's talent manager, BaboAbe. The whole point of the server was to bring content creators together into a shared role-playing survival experience. What the team at OfflineTV may not have realized, however, is that Rust is a cult game featuring a diehard community of players — many of whom take the game very seriously.

As part of OfflineTV, Pokimane found herself playing Rust on stream, too. She enjoyed some success, alongside her collaborators, and caught the attention of developer Facepunch. The studio decided to release an exclusive in-game skin with Pokimane, which viewers could receive by watching her stream the game at a very specific time. Unfortunately for everyone who wanted one, Pokimane found Rust too trying. Explaining that she simply wasn't enjoying herself, Pokimane decided to quit playing the game early into the server's life.

Due to her quitting the survival game during the limited release event, her garage door skin skyrocketed in popularity and rarity.

Success in Among Us

If you want to be a successful content creator, especially on Twitch, you may want to follow along with the latest trends. Among Us was, arguably, one of the most popular games to play for a while. It's what viewers wanted to see more than many other titles, and so it made complete sense for Poki to pick up the game.

Pokimane found immense success streaming Among Us. But she wasn't alone on camera. The popular streamer partnered with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in October 2020. That stream, which included the likes of Dr. Lupo, Jacksepticeye, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, managed to smash Twitch viewership records. The crew saw a staggering 439,000 viewers at the stream's peak. They fell short of the all-time record, which is held by Ninja and Drake, who played Fortnite to over 616,000 viewers. Even so, it was an impressive showing.

Whatever the next trend is on Twitch, Pokimane will surely throw her hat in the ring and make waves.

What's Next for Pokimane?

So, what's next for Pokimane? The fan-favorite streamer continues to grow her Twitch channel, with new followers and subscribers joining her daily, and her main YouTube channel is doing quite well, too. Pokimane has turned her attention to Hollywood, beginning with a cameo in Ryan Reynolds' Free Guy. She announced her involvement with the film over on Twitter in October 2020.

The movie follows a video game NPC who begins to fight back against the fictional world he inhabits. Poki will be joined by several other streamers in cameo roles, including Lazarbeam and Ninja.

Whether or not Anys intends to continue this path and dive headfirst into Hollywood remains to be seen, though it would make sense. Her entire medium focuses on video-based content and entertaining the masses. Movies are one more method to entertain, which is why some of her fellow streamers have set their sights on Hollywood. If she continues to diversify, maybe fans will see her wind up in another movie or two before long.