Kai Cenat provided a bright spot at the end of what was a very bad week for Twitch. The 20-year-old streamer managed to crack 80,000 paid subs, overtaking Félix ‘xQc’ Lengyel to become the most subscribed English-speaking channel on Twitch. A tearful mid-stream call with his mom summed up everything the moment meant to him and his fans. “My son works harder, he’s a grinder,” she said. “Every day, every night, and he gives me the world.”
A longtime content creator, it wasn’t until earlier this year that Cenat started making big waves on Amazon’s streaming platform. It didn’t take long for him to start gaining a big following, but his rapid ascent up the paid subscriber ladder is still something to behold. He’s gained 20,000 subs in the last few weeks alone, and on September 23 it took him over the top.
“80K SUBS ON TWITCH CURRENTLY #1 IN THE COUNTRY, THIS IS BEYOND ME I LOVE EVERYONE WHO’S SHOWN SUPPORT THROUGH THE WAY MAFIA4L,” he tweeted. While Cenat is still behind Brazilian streamer Casimiro Miguel Vieira da Silva Ferreira internationally, TwitchTracker indicates the former still has more subs paid out of pocket over all (the majority of Casimiro’s are via Amazon Prime gift subs, where the streamer receives the money, but the viewer uses their Prime account to send it for free).
During the stream leading up to the breakthrough moment, Cenat thanked all of his supporters, danced, and took emotional calls from his family. The one thing he didn’t thank was Twitch, who he called out for ignoring the passionate community he built in such a short time.
“I need y’all to be watching what’s going on, Twitch, I need you to understand bro, you feel me for so many years bro people of my color, we’ve been unrecognized,” he said during the stream. “I refuse for my community to go unnoticed. Yo Twitch, I have no problems with you Twitch. There’s not one time I’ve seen anyone in my community on the front page of your platform bro.”
Content creators have previously debated why Twitch didn’t do more to promote one of its new fastest growing big names. For many, Cenat’s achievement was vindication for all of those creators grinding away to climb toward the top of the platform, especially when Twitch has been consistently criticized for not doing enough to help and protect Black and other marginalized streamers. “Kai Cenat being #1 on twitch is the best thing to ever happen to black creators on the platform,” tweeted MarioHTXX.
“I don’t give a fuck if I’m ‘unmarketable’ you understand me bro, I don’t give a fuck if I’m unmarketable bro, okay, I don’t give a fuck bro,” Cenat said after breaking 80,000. “I don’t give a fuck what you all n***** got going on, if I say n**** too much, I do not care n****, I do not give a fuck. They don’t want to recognize real, bro.” He blamed Twitch for trying to keep other viewers from seeing what his community had to offer, and for quickly responding to streamer outrage over gambling on the platform but not addressing Black creators’ struggles. “As a 20-year old black man, I really hope things change bro, I really hope things change bro,” he said.
Cenat’s momentum seems unlikely to stop here. Raúl “AuronPlay” Genes still has the most followers (13.9 million) and average daily viewers (111,699). xQc, meanwhile, is still the most viewed streamer overall at 17.6 million total hours watched. Those metrics don’t pay the bills though. According to StreamCharts, Cenat’s latest milestone could net him as much as $130,000 a month after Twitch takes its controversial cut.
Update: 9/27/22 8:52 a.m. ET: Cenat passed 90,000 paid subs last night.