For most streamers, “making it” on Twitch is a painstakingly slow process, a years-long grind that reduces even iron resolves to rubble. And while there’s no doubting that Ali “Myth” Kabbani worked hard, he reached the top of the mountain on a, well, accelerated time scale.
As of yesterday, Myth became the second most-followed streamer on Twitch with over 3.9 million followers. This puts him ever so slightly ahead of Shroud, who’s also in the 3.9 million range—but well behind Ninja, who recently broke 10 million.
Still, that’s nothing to sneeze at, especially considering that Myth is just 19 years old. And he hasn’t even gotten into a passive-aggressive Instagram feud with Drake yet!
To say that Myth rocketed to the top might actually be an understatement. Last year, he had less than 100,000 followers. He was just some kid playing games, mostly Epic’s ill-fated action-MOBA Paragon. Then Epic hammered together a battle royale mode for a little game called Fortnite, and everything changed.
By the end of the year, Myth became the number one player in the world on the game’s solo PC leaderboards. But that’s only part of the equation that turned him into a sensation.
The moment that Myth credits with launching his career came in December 2017. While playing a match, he came face-to-virtual-face with one of the biggest streamers in the world, Summit1g.
Summit approached the summit of Myth’s base and decided to build upward, encircling Myth’s ramshackle fortress in the process. Summit began to close in for the kill, and then something weird happened: Myth started building upward at a startling speed. Every time Summit thought he had Myth cornered, Myth was a couple stories above him.
“Stop it!” Summit yelled in mock-anger as Myth repeatedly disappeared behind freshly constructed walls.
Then Myth went on the offensive, dropping down to a ramp right next to Summit. He nailed him with a perfectly placed shotgun blast and then instantly put up another wall, obscuring Summit’s view. Summit could barely parse what was happening. From his perspective, it was like being the hapless victim in a horror movie.
“What’s happening?” Summit shouted. “What just happened?” He also yelled a phrase that has since been memed to hell and back: “Is this guy a fuck?”
Then Myth slyly built his way back up to the top of the winding tower while Summit was still looking down and around him in confusion. Two sudden blasts from on high, and Summit was dead.
“He kept building up and building up and building up, and I couldn’t catch him!” Summit yelled into his camera. Afterward, Summit was just speechless for a while. He’d been outplayed so severely that he still wasn’t entirely sure what’d happened.
The clip went viral. Before that, diehard Fortnite players knew Myth was good—you don’t become a top-ranked player by getting lucky, after all—but schooling Summit gave him a reputation. He quickly became known as one of the best builders in Fortnite, and with good reason: he can build like nobody’s business. He pioneers building strategies as naturally as the rest of us eat, sleep, and ultimately die—perhaps because somebody built literal circles around us.
At the start of 2018, his popularity took off. In January, Myth had just 100,000 followers. By February, that number had doubled. By March, it was 600,000.
Somewhat like Ninja, Myth’s popularity begat more popularity, granting him opportunities to do more mainstream-facing things like team up with rapper Lil’ Yachty and play in the E3 Fortnite Pro-Am (even if he sorta jinxed himself into falling to his death in the latter).
Not long after the Summit incident in December, Myth got signed to esports organisation TSM as part of its first steps into the then-basically-nonexistent Fortnite pro scene. He now lives in a house with fellow pros Darryle “Hamlinz” Hamlin, Juan “CaMiLLs” Camilla, and Daequan Loco. Myth is gearing up to participate in Epic’s growing Fortnite esports scene, even if he hasn’t quite hit his stride yet.
Myth’s unique play style is complemented by the sort of confidence that comes with being a 19-year-old kid who can crush big names 10 years his senior. He rarely loses composure in big moments, but he knows how to mix in whoops, cheers, and jokes to keep things interesting.
He is, however, still definitely a kid. That’s resulted in some eye rolls, but also some endearing moments. In May of this year, he accompanied a fan to prom after she asked how many RTs she’d need to get for him to do it. He said 15,000, and she made it happen, so he held up his end of the deal. The resulting video was cute as hell.
PROM LIT THO https://t.co/qDm1nMHKIo— Myth (@TSM_Myth) May 13, 2018
For a while, he also made virginity part of his brand, joking that his skill came from the fact that he’d never had sex. This became a meme that fans and other streamers like Ninja joked about.
Like many other Fortnite streamers, however, Myth has a lot of young fans, and this resonated with them by standing in contrast to a culture of fame and stardom that often feels hyper-focused on sex. Myth, on the other hand, consistently presents himself as a dorky kid who’s still working to figure things out, whether that’s sexuality or alcohol.
Last month, Myth hosted a stream (and posted a video) in which he revealed that he’d lost his virginity. He did this with a joking tone, saying that it was time to find a new Twitch “V King or V Queen” to take his place. His chat had a field day with this, of course. At the end of that day, though, he tweeted that the whole thing wasn’t just a joke to him.
“I want it to be remembered that the V-Card wasn’t just a sign of virginity,” he wrote, “but more so a sign of owning who and what makes you, you.”
To many, that’s the core of what makes Myth appealing: the idea of self-ownership. He frequently tells people to “believe” in their ability to grow, overcome challenges, love, and succeed.
He made it this far, after all, and he wants other people to draw inspiration from that. Sure, nothing is ever that simple, but it’s an appealing fantasy that many Twitch streamers sell, but Myth epitomises.
“At the end of all this, I’m not looking for you to praise me or to idolise me,” he recently said on Twitter. “I just want you to believe in your own ability to do whatever the hell you wish to in this world. Keep Believing.”