Imagine having your entire life turned upside down and inside out and systematically dismantled by a powerful force freed from the individual's burden of a sense of responsibility. Thousands of people coming together in one place and for one purpose: to figure out how to get you. You are probably imagining losing your job, your reputation, even personal relationships.
That's exactly what happened to me and it all happened in the span of a week.
Everyone and everything is fair game in Internet Bloodsports, a sickening internet phenomenon that happened when unscrupulous Springer-esque internet entertainers discovered that there is serious money to be made in pandering to schadenfreude-seeking sociopaths on relatively unmoderated streaming platforms. Their standing lynch mob armies can field thousands of trolls at any given time. Targets are chosen more or less at random.
Documenting the history and psychology of IBS is beyond the scope of this article. This is the story of how I came to be associated with one of Internet Bloodsports' current figureheads and how he leveraged his troll army against me when our relationship turned sour.
The founding of Hype Break
I chanced into meeting Andy Warski (whom I’d already known for at least a couple of years) late 2018, several months after I had been let go (along with everyone else) from Milo Yiannopoulos’ Dangerous.
Warski himself had more or less been disowned by all his friends for his participation in Internet Bloodsports and engagement with members of the alt-right. During our talk we eventually came to agree that a YouTube games journalism collaboration would be a chance for the both of us to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and make a name for ourselves. Hype Break was born.
Following my creation of the channel — I gave it the name and registered the related domains — our first weeks of churning out videos were without pay until we built enough content and subscribers to meet YouTube’s qualifications for monetization.
Our initial videos had fewer than a thousand views, but my persistent personal efforts to drive the channel’s content allowed me to deliver videos that averaged at above 10,000 views to upwards of 100,000 views by the year’s end.
While Warski contributed little to the channel, he did promise to bring in a source of revenue through a YouTube MCN (multi-channel network) that would guarantee Hype Break better ads and even sponsorships.
And although he signed Hype Break up to the MCN, I would eventually learn from its manager that he did so under his own name, and falsely referred to me as merely someone under his employ. Thankfully the content I had created and Hype Break's YouTube AdSense receipts (directed to my account in the one month prior to Warski’s signing up with the MCN) satisfactorily proved to this manager my majority ownership of the channel.
None of the promises Warski made to me came to pass.
I would later learn, again through the MCN manager, that Warski was always offline and impossible to reach. During this time, as I would also later learn, Warski would lie to me and tell me that his MCN manager was “working on it” and that he would attempt to strongarm him into getting us sponsorships worth ten times more than what we were earning through YouTube revenue alone.
Warski's relapse into IBS
Warski’s inability to commit to the channel actually stemmed from his preoccupation with Internet Bloodsports, which came about through his relaunch of a show called Warpath on his personal channel. For a time, he made bank from YouTube superchats — donations provided by viewers over the course of dozens of three-hour livestreams. Each stream of Warpath earned upwards of $300, some of which he opted to split with a co-host.
But bloodsports took its toll on Warski, as well as his content. At first, Warski made a lot of money and was driving a lot of attention to himself by covering popular topics like the BetterHelp advertising scandal that implicated major YouTubers like Philip DeFranco and Shane Dawson as individuals benefiting from their viewers’ depression.
When that well ran dry, Warski found himself scraping the bottom of the barrel by making several streams dedicated to YouTubers no one had even heard of — like the guy who was singled out because his wife complained of his poor hygiene during a livestream that had fewer than a hundred viewers.
It was at this time Warski came back to Hype Break. He had seen its numbers and growth and started to consider it a worthwhile alternative to Internet Bloodsports. He would promise to deliver twice-daily content that he didn’t actually deliver, leaving me to develop all the popular content for the channel as per usual. What few videos he made were poorly produced, based on stale material that other gaming channels had already covered days before. This was his contribution to Hype Break.
In the midst of his declining efforts to push Warpath, Warski struck up a beef with another YouTuber named Tonka Saw. The two had history as co-hosts, and Warski felt that Tonka Saw had somehow betrayed him to Kraut and Sargon.
These were details that he shared with me in earnest, as I shared my personal details with him. Details that he would later weaponize against me, and in doing so personally hurt those I care about the most.
Despite his lax efforts on Hype Break, I considered him my best friend and believed he regarded me the same way. I told him things of my personal life, much of which would be uninteresting if not for the drama that now surrounds it, that I should not have — accidentally betraying the trust of those I care about, as I vented to him about my relationships and friendships with others whom he did not know.
He would say, “If you have any relationship problems, just tell me about it and I’ll help you out.” How little I knew then.
Warski’s penchant for Internet Bloodsports led to his decision to physically fight Tonka Saw in the ring, perhaps seeing the build-up to the fight as yet another away to maintain some relevance in the scene and make some scratch in the process. It all culminated in a real-world MMA bout in Knoxville, Tennessee that never happened on January 19. He now brags about being an “undefeated” MMA champion — the proud boast of a man who fought against a ghost and won.
During this time, Warski’s paranoid symptoms made themselves evident to me, as he would, at times, rail against his former partners and co-hosts, describing them as thieves and snakes who abused his trust and betrayed him. Warski would accuse his long-time partner on his main channel, Chris, of siphoning thousands of dollars out of his bank account. These were accusations he would make both publicly on his livestreams and privately to me, with details I found incredulous. He would make the same accusations about another YouTuber he collaborated with named Jean-Francois Gariepy, whom he would claim was “using” him for his clout and his channel for its much larger platform than Gariepy’s own.
The buyout deal
The true extent of Warski’s paranoia became evident when, in early January, he locked me out of the Hype Break channel without warning and accused me of working against him with Tonka Saw — a man with whom I had no contact. We managed to resolve the issue when I successfully reclaimed the channel, but heckles were raised, and I knew I had to part ways with Warski or risk being drawn further into his delusions.
At the time, I had a good thing going as the main editor of Exclusively Games. Hype Break was taking off. I did not want to see any of it collapse over yet another one of Warski’s livestream freakouts.
I made an effort to distance myself from him, and eventually proposed to him — days after his fight in Knoxville — to purchase his share of the channel using funds that were set to be paid to him through the YouTube MCN for the months of December 2018 and January 2019. We both understood that this meant he would have to wait at least 30 to 90 days for the funds to process.
As an additional stipulation, Warski demanded (following “a talk with the boys” – I do not know to whom he refers) I pay an additional $2,000 over a period of 8 to 12 months following my ownership of Hype Break because he believed it would grow and that he would, and I quote, “become jealous and bitter” over its success. The additional money, he said, would sweeten the deal. We had a verbal agreement to transfer the full rights and control of the channel over to me.
I agreed and drafted a contract to put it in writing, evidence of which he himself has produced on social media as proof of our agreement. However, I could not get his signed copy back from him, and he was unreachable for a day, at which point he went on another one of his livestreams to refocus his attacks on staple Internet Bloodsports villain Tonka Saw.
During the stream, my name came up in a leaked private chat log between the guest and Tonka Saw’s girlfriend, whom I have been friends with for years. She remarked, in the DMs, that she can’t imagine Warski’s reaction if he were to find out that we were “still talking” in spite of his aggression towards her boyfriend. It’s worth noting that Warski was, at this time, fully aware of her friendship with me and had said to me that it didn’t bother him, so it should be puzzling as to why he took this news as a surprise and went on to rail about how I was a “snake” all along, who had somehow “stolen” Hype Break and its revenues without even so much as a notice.
But a discerning mind might suggest that Warski had found himself a new target to monetize — the bloodsports with Tonka Saw had already died with the MMA fight that never happened. He promised to make a series of videos unveiling the true extent of my supposed snakery and how I had been intending, somehow, to backstab him all along. He brought up my employment with Exclusively Games, unfairly directing a hate mob at my employer at the time — thereby prompting the termination of my employment.
Warski released a proper video the very next day, promising more to come, exposing details of my personal life that would otherwise be of no interest to anyone were I not the subject of his campaign against me. Warski promised to take down Hype Break, strike down content I had produced, and effectively burn me to the ground. In his video, Warski also promoted an outright lie about me killing a dog.
The harassment campaign starts in earnest
His words lit the fuse to the Internet Bloodsports keg, which is always in want of a fresh villain. An avalanche of hostile YouTube comments. Thousands of tweets. Emails. Instagram. Facebook. Even Linkedin. And then of course the official Internet Bloodsports streams with hosts stoking the fire ever hotter for the thousands of viewers/participants baying for blood. Official Internet Bloodsports mythology had crowned me the stealer of YouTube channels.
And much worse.
For example, I was accused of calling a SWAT team down on someone’s house — a troll by the name of Wildgoose, who produced dozens of doxes of journalists during the height of GamerGate in 2014.
It’s a narrative that shifts with every retelling. In some stories, a dog is flashbanged. In others, it’s killed. The owner of the dog changes from the person I supposedly swatted, to Wildgoose’s dad. Multiple SWAT raids on the same person. The dog is blinded. Sometimes killed. Sometimes blinded and killed. None of the stories line up. Depending on who you ask, they’ll say I owe Wildgoose thousands of dollars to pay for the treatment of this imaginary dog, or for his mental health. The malicious rumor spawned a hashtag called #pray4pupper.
It’s ironic for Wildgoose to demand recompense over the injury of a nonexistent dog when he himself led a campaign to eradicate pitbulls across the United States during this time. And the video evidence provided by Wildgoose and others pushing the “flashbanged dog” story were made in conjunction with Warski’s own videos slandering me, using footage of a police raid that’s both years old and took place in a completely different part of the country. The only picture he was able to provide of his dog is an image cribbed right out of Google Images with background music that detracts from any seriousness of the claim.
Anyone who process these allegations with a functioning brain can clearly see them for what they are: a malicious joke intended to defame. But it hasn’t stopped some people from taking it all at face value, or from mindlessly joining the bandwagon to call for my blood over an imaginary dog.
And when I say blood, I mean in the literal sense as well as the figurative. Internet Bloodsports hosts frequently suggest to their thousands of trolls that a properly formulated report to the authorities in my country might get me whipped or even executed, so, you know, wink wink nudge nudge.
Terror and error
I was at a loss, to put it mildly. Everything I’d worked so hard for — Hype Break, my friendship with Warski, and even my employment (they didn't want the negative attention) — was being destroyed in front of me.
I wasn't thinking clearly. I thought of ways I could strike back at Warski, for all he was doing to me and promising to do to me. I recalled his cocaine habit, which he admitted to me, and of the times he bragged about possessing illegal firearms at his place of residence. I left a tip with the police, telling them of his habits, and warned them to approach him with caution given what I knew of his mindset at the time.
It was a terrible mistake, but I felt like a cornered animal. I was angry and desperate and powerless and I believed that a visit from the police could bring Warski back to his senses. Clearly, they did not, and my actions prompted him to redouble his efforts against me, and of the mob’s as well.
During this moment of weakness I also reached out to a friend I had known for over a year, one I thought I could trust — mindlessly detailing my actions to her. Despite knowing little of Warski, she would later tell him about it, revealing a few out-of-context messages I had sent her, and then go onto his livestream to detail everything I had ever said to her in confidence (I previously reached out to her in December for personal advice), playing up and exaggerating the extent of everything I said to her.
I cannot speak to her state of mind or explain why she would betray my trust — but Internet Bloodsports and the clout that comes with it does strange things to otherwise decent people.
Every word that I’ve ever typed or spoken on the Internet is now being used against me – "evidence" of my character. Words that contradict the narrative are cited as proof of my hypocrisy.
Andy Warski, along with the Killstream, and now even DramaAlert's Keemstar (who frequently calls in to the Internet Bloodsports streams), have seen fit to spread a narrative about me that consists of many lies and few truths.
I never got a dog killed. I never stole a YouTube channel or its revenues. I never initiated a DDOS attack on Warski. I never flagged down any channels that reported on this subject. It is a narrative that has brought Warski in particular a sizable amount of money, with videos that are being used to also raise funds for an Indiegogo project involving Warski and Ethan Ralph.
Warski and his cohorts are monetizing the destruction of my life.
It is easy join a hate mob.
You, the reader, may have even participated in a hate mob. You may even be one of the people currently participating in my destruction. It’s difficult to fathom what it’s like to be standing within the eye of the storm and watch as the world collapses around you as strangers—people whom you don’t even know—think that they know the ins-and-outs of your actions and of your life.
It’s a no-brainer to partake in a coordinate attack against someone, especially when you feel justified. It only takes one tweet — a sentence comprised of fewer than 240 characters — to share a hot take. Your words may reach a dozen people, or they may reach a million. It matters not, as the volume of attacks more than makes up for any individual tweet.
To contribute to the outrage, all you have is to click a button and you’ll have done your part. And in doing so, you have helped to ruin the life of someone you do not know, and the lives of those around them.
Defending yourself against the tide of hate is much harder, if not impossible to do without a massive platform of your own. Even then, it is a Sisyphean task. Your defenders, innumerable though they may be, are similarly afraid of being singled out as targets alongside you.
There are few ways out, but should you ever find yourself at the center of a hate mob, your worst move is to provide them with anything they can use against you. I made the mistake of tipping the police off on Andy. It is being painted as a “swatting attempt,” and even worse — “attempted murder.” It is neither of these things.
I will admit that this experience, which is on-going, has made me sink into depression. I suffer from near-suicidal thoughts — not enough to harm myself, but enough to ideate on the prospect of simply disappearing. It may come from a place of selfishness, as I am forced to ruminate upon all I have lost.
I am sorry to those whom I have hurt — to those who placed their trust in me, which I betrayed, inadvertently or otherwise, as I once trusted those who seek to ruin me. And I am thankful to everyone who stuck their necks out for me.
Narrative often eclipses the truth. Be honest, cherish those who care for you, be careful with who you trust, don’t share anyone else’s secrets, and don’t do anything underhanded. The trash fire that rages within any given hate mob will snuff itself out with no combustible material to work with. Live well, and do not participate in Internet Bloodsports.