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Disguised Toast is expanding beyond streaming, but it’s coming at a cost

Jeremy Wang, known as Disguised Toast on Twitch, has long been known as a shitposter. The streamer started doing trick plays and trolling players in the digital card game Hearthstone. In 2017, he joined OfflineTV, a content creation group co-founded by Pokimane and Scarra. Over time, he amassed around 2.8 million followers on Twitch and 3.7 million on YouTube through games like Among us alongside other talent like Valkyrae and Corpse Husband.

Now he is trying something new. He is the founder and owner of Disguised (DSG), a valorant team playing in the North American Challengers League. Polygon spoke to Disguised Toast over Zoom about why streamers are expanding their presence beyond live streaming, the challenge of starting an esports team, and why he’d consider gaming sponsorship even after the Twitch controversy.

Disguised Toast told Polygon he was surprised by how unprofitable esports is. “I had heard about it, but I didn’t really understand it until I got to the heart of things.” He said he is willing to lose “a million dollars” in the venture over the next two years, but would revisit it after that. For now, he’s trying to make the venture more profitable, even if it means raising money in controversial ways.

Gambling, and the extent to which streamers should use their platforms to promote it, has long been a controversial topic among top content creators. In 2021, Disguised Toast said he liked to gamble for fun with friends, but called gambling streams “weird.” In a YouTube video, he said: “These streamers have the disposable income and they get fat stacks to gamble. I don’t think you understand how much this is gamba streamers getting paid.” Fast forward to September 2022, and a group of major streamers, including OfflineTV co-founder Pokimane, called on Twitch to ban gambling streams.

Earlier this year, op The Wisemen PodcastDisguised Toast said he wouldn’t accept cryptocurrency, but would be open to a gambling sponsorship, despite the controversy surrounding it. “Now if it means my players can be covered for the next five years and they don’t have to worry, and my staff don’t have to worry, I’d probably take it for good money, but if it stays that way if I run for a year, isn’t it worth it,” he said on the podcast.

Polygon asked why the streamer would be open to gambling sponsorship. “I’m someone who always says never say never,” he told Polygon, calling out the hypocrisy in the industry. “I think a lot of streamers like to be on high horses like, Yes, I will never do X, Y, Zand then later they do X, Y, and Z, because the money is good.

The roadblocks and relative unprofitability of his new esports team is costing Disguised Toast as much as $500,000 a year, he said in a recent YouTube video. In the video, he estimated that paying just the players and coach would cost him a whopping $30,000 a month. While Disguised Toast is broadening its options beyond the safer and more profitable world of streamingit begs the question of why he takes the financial risk of starting the esports team in the first place.

Image: RTS

“In terms of my career, I’ve pretty much seen and experienced everything, like all the highs and lows. And I know that being a professional gamer is a dream of many children. And this is essentially a way for me to help five kids chase that dream of getting paid to play a video game. And when I see the emotions they go through, it’s almost like I’m reliving that.”

According to Disguised Toast, his team gives some players the chance to compete and fulfill their gaming dreams valorant. Polygon asked if he saw the venture as some sort of charitable act, as he’s not currently making any money and he’s giving some players the chance to keep playing. “Um, no, when I think of charity, I think of altruism, really nice guys. I wouldn’t say I’m one of them. I’d like to think I’m more of an opportunist. But I try to do things in a fun way.”

Disguised Toast is not exactly known as a serious figure. His edgy comedic style has led some to question his character – and prompted him to defend himself and his actions. His own team has a similar shitpost style sense of humor that comes across as joking about the seriousness of other esports leagues. His team’s logo looks like it was handwritten with a mouse in MS Paint. Watching him try to become a responsible entrepreneur may go against the image he has cultivated so far.

“I am very used to just chatting with people and being on the same level. I’d love to do that, but what I realize is when you’re working with younger talent, they look to you to get your stuff in order to have a sense of what happens next. And honestly, sometimes I have no idea what’s going to happen next. But you almost have to play the part. That has been an adjustment. So essentially I need to act more mature, even though I’m still quite the troll inside and like to joke around. I mean, I play video games for a living. I’m not that mature. That’s an adjustment.”

Disguised Toast is ultimately one of many prominent streamers that have expanded their reach and increased their audience in recent years. Streamers like Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter have become co-owners of content creation companies and have even released lifestyle products like a skin care line. Felix “xQc” Lengyel released an energy drink. Others, such as Corpse Husband, have moved on to take on roles in other areas of entertainment, such as music.

When asked by Polygon why so many streamers seem to be shifting to projects outside of streaming, Disguised Toast said he thinks some streamers enjoy the challenge of marketing themselves and “building an empire.” According to Disguised Toast, top streamers reach a point where they’ve given it their all and are then approached by their agency to create products.

“I think that’s why a lot of streamers get into that, because streaming isn’t forever. I think most streamers have been doing it for about 10 years. And what do you do afterwards? Right, so the forward-thinking streamers want to do business while still being relevant so they can use their platform in everything they build.