Before the tail end of August, Daniel “Jokerd” Gobey was basically a nobody. Then he won the worldwide race to hit level 60 in WoW Classic and became an overnight Twitch sensation, with over 300,000 people tuning in to watch his big moment just three days after Classic’s launch. But the 22-year-old player from Malta, who has yet to respond to Kotaku’s request for comment, is also a troll who likes to pull stunts on stream. Recently, those impulses got him booted from top WoW esports organisation and guild Method.
Just two weeks ago, Method announced that Gobey had joined its ranks as part of the organisation’s team of Twitch personalities. “Method always strives to support the best players, and Daniel Vella ‘Jokerd’ Gobey has certainly proven himself to be that time and time again,” the organisation said in an enthusiastic announcement post. “He has not only claimed the throne of fastest to level 60 in WoW Classic, but was also the no.1 ranked Marksmanship Hunter on Warcraft Logs during the Legion expansion. In addition, to this day, he holds the record of fastest level 60 on any fresh private WoW Vanilla server launch.”
Despite some dispute over the validity of Gobey’s levelling methods (he took advantage of Blizzard’s server “layering” techniques to shave some time off his last couple levels), he clearly has the credentials. But during a recent Molten Core raid, Gobey failed to demonstrate the composure needed to roll with such a storied crew. As part of an on-the-fly group made up of members of multiple guilds, including prestigious raiding guild Power, of which Gobey is a member, and another influential guild called Olympus, Gobey led the raid. When it came time to divvy up loot after the group had melted down one of the raid’s biggest bads, Gobey did not follow protocol and instead swiped one of the more coveted items the boss can drop, the Staff of Dominance. In effect, he stole it. This came after he’d been goaded by people in his own voice chat who said he wouldn’t do it because it’d “kill his reputation.”
“They think I care about my reputation on a fucking American server,” he said. “Fuck you.”
Then he headed for the virtual hills, physically bolting out of Molten Core and leaving his group behind.
Later on during the same stream, he defended his actions, saying (perhaps sarcastically) that not only would he not get kicked out of Power for yoinking the staff, but that he was going to “get promoted to officer.” He claimed that one member of Power told others what he’d done, and they were actually overjoyed.
“You know what the other people said? ‘Nice one. Good job. Fuck yeah. Grats Jokerd.’ Because it’s an upgrade to Power. Power just became a stronger guild by me ninja-ing,” said Gobey, using a shortened version of the term “ninja looting,” or snatching loot without permission from other members of your group. “What do you want if your guild is Power? Do you want some random guy in [other raiding guild] Olympus to get Staff of Dominance? Fuck no. You want someone in Power to get more powerful. And guess what? That’s what happened. Why would you get kicked?”
But he did get kicked out of Method—arguably a much bigger loss. Yesterday, the organisation suspended Gobey and removed him from its Twitch team over “his offensive and unsportsmanlike behaviour.”
“On behalf of Method, I want to apologise to our fans, sponsors, and community,” wrote Method general manager Shanna “Darrie” Roberts in a statement on Twitter. “We feel let down by his behaviour, just as many of you are.”
Today, Roberts posted a “final” statement in which she formally gave Gobey the boot.
“After having the chance today to meet with Jokerd’s manager, we can now confirm publicly that Method has terminated the contract of Jokerd effective immediately,” she wrote. “We wish Jokerd well in his streaming and playing career.”
It’s quite the fall from grace, but it’s not like this was impossible to see coming. Gobey has exhibited a self-destructive streak in his previous trolling stunts, publicly deleting his first-to-60 mage account just days after maxing it out, among other things.
Many in the WoW community have condemned Gobey for his actions and now feel that justice has been served. However, after the initial suspension (but before getting kicked entirely), Gobey did receive support from a mildly unexpected source: the single most popular World of Warcraft streamer on Twitch, Asmongold, who’s spent the past couple months as one of the top streamers on Twitch, period. Upon watching the clip of Gobey snagging the staff, he let out an enthusiastic whoop of “my man” and then displayed a picture of the two hanging out in person at this year’s TwitchCon.
Asmongold went on to assert that “ninja-ing is part of the game,” which drew mixed reactions from his chat. Some agreed, but others said it only serves to ruin other players’ good times and, if you’re a big streamer, might hurt your ability to get sponsorships.
“I’m pretty sure MSI doesn’t care about how people distribute loot in a video game,” Asmongold said in response to that line of reasoning. “Usually you have the controversies [like] ‘Guess what he said. Or oh, he did this bad thing. He’s aimbotting... But no.”
There’s no doubt that Gobey suffered major consequences here, but his stunt also drew countless eyeballs in his direction and made him the sole focus of the WoW drama of the week. This, like the existence of streamer servers and the initial anxiety around stunts that Twitch’s biggest names and their fanbases might pull, shines a light on how much streamers can alter the way that this kind of game is played. In this case, Gobey bumped up against 15-year-old social norms that evolved to safeguard against greed, but players of the time had very different priorities than streamers do now.
It was, in some ways, in Gobey’s best interest to pull this stunt. As Asmongold—who’s benefited from his own stunts over the years—voiced his opinion on Gobey, some members of his chat piped up to point out that, essentially, you can’t have heroes without heels. Gobey is gleefully playing the heel at this point, treating longtime WoW fans’ resurrected playground as his stage. Is it fair or fun for those directly impacted by his antics? No. It’s infuriating for them. But this is what happens when new meets old, when the very nature of an entertainment medium changes in the year’s between a game world’s inception and its nostalgia-powered return.
Asmongold, who runs aforementioned guild Olympus, also casually extended an invitation to Gobey. “If Power ever kicks you out, you’ll have a home here,” he said. “But unfortunately for you, I’ll be the master looter.”
In a stream today after Method let him go, Gobey repeatedly talked about how it was all “worth it,” trashed the group from the Molten Core raid, and said irate Reddit threads are “fuel for me.”
“All these people that hate me are in my stream right now, giving me free money,” he said. “Thank you so much for giving me money.”