Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, one of the most popular live streamers in the world, returned to Twitch on Wednesday following Microsoft’s decision to shut down the competing Mixer platform, attracting nearly 500,000 active viewers in his comeback stream before it even officially started. Many of those viewers showed up only to find a “starting soon” message, before Shroud turned his camera on at roughly 2:50PM ET. Twitch users continued to pour in, and Shroud surpassed half a million active viewers just a few minutes past the hour.
Shroud says his lateness was due to technical difficulties, a common culprit he cites when showing up late to scheduled streams that has become a bit of an inside joke among his legion of fans. But he did say the end result of apparent bit rate and audio issues was that his stream might remain capped at 720p. Despite the early issues, a freshly goateed Shroud fired up Riot’s new tactical shooter Valorant, where he began maintaining between about 400,000 and 475,000 active viewers. Shroud is currently responsible for more than 80 percent of the viewership of Valorant, which is now sitting at the top of the most-viewed Twitch charts.
Shroud, alongside his Fortnite-playing contemporary Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, signed a deal with Mixer before Microsoft reportedly paid him and other streamers out of their exclusive contracts as part of the shutdown terms. He then spent more than a month away from streaming while he deliberated which platform he might return to, before announcing yesterday that he would come back to the Amazon-owned product where he originally began streaming.
Although Microsoft partnered with Facebook to transition its existing base of users over to the social network’s Facebook Gaming platform, popular streamers like Ninja and Shroud were free to negotiate new deals, and Shroud picked Twitch. It’s unclear how much money the platform paid to secure him, but Microsoft reportedly paid him in the ballpark of $10 million for his brief time on Mixer.