"Here's something that won't wash off!" If you're familiar with this line, then you're probably a League of Legends player and you know it's not related to hygiene. The phrase is an iconic voice line from the League of Legends champion, Twitch the Plague Rat, and perfectly describes the tale of the best Twitch player in the world RAT IRL. This is a story of how one of the most popular Twitch streamers in the League category, became famous, garnering a huge dedicated fan base along the way, and succeeded in his rebranding as a content creator.
In the early days of League, the game was very unpolished and was still developing, which also applied to its community. Back then the only interaction the game developers had with the community was through the official League forums. These forums were the only place where players could share their opinion and interact with each other, apart from some gaming website forums that didn't specialize in League content. So naturally, players found a solution in the form of social media, using Skype, Twitter, and Reddit. The high elo community on each server was especially developed and interactive as it was usually the same players with a few additions each year. That's one of the reasons getting the highest rank in the game Challenger, holds so much value. It's always been the 300 best players on the server, constantly matched against each other. This familiarity expanded to friendships and various types of relationships, mostly cultivated on the Skype platform.
It was at that time that the market for selling League accounts and boosting services was growing rapidly, with the prestige of having a high rank in League holding high value. The only way to get access to these services was through websites or purchasing them directly through Skype because back then these actions were considered a violation of Riot's Account Sharing, MMR boosting, and other policies.
His beginnings in the scene
This was how RAT-IRL, born in 1998 in Sweden, got in touch and befriended other members of the high elo community, with whom he would provide these services and then, later, create the infamous L9 club on the EUW server. He was already famous in high elo for being one of the most mechanically gifted players on his signature champions, praised by many streamers and pro players while being accused of scripting by others. Instead of his gameplay garnering the attention, it was mostly his toxicity in-game and negative behavior that stole the spotlight. With his invention of "Disco Nunu", a strategy that involves using summoner spells like Ghost and Cleanse to run faster at the enemy towers and intentionally ruin the game, and his "int list" which he would use to know who to target with these actions, he would create quite a reputation for himself. In the community that performed boosting services, RAT-IRL was already an established member, with screenshots of his +90% win rate accounts in high elo and record-breakingly long win streaks, being the proof that he was one of the best in the game. He introduced a playstyle that would capitalize on the mistakes of other players while smurfing, playing stealth champions like Twitch and Evelynn in the jungle role because it had the most access to the entire map.
Meanwhile, in the high elo community, their experience with RAT IRL was considered a coin toss. If RAT was trying his best to win, he would often do it in a fashion where he made everyone else irrelevant. Solo carrying the game while displaying absurd mechanics and styling on other players. This had garnered him a lot of praise and respect from pro players and other content creators, with some accusing him of scripting as the only way to justify his skill. Him being a top ten player on the EUW rankings with +1000LP was a common occurrence. But on the days where RAT was in a bad mood or was playing with someone he didn't like personally or in-game, he would display his negative attitude and behavior that often overshadowed his play. Intentionally feeding, trolling teammates by not trying to win, racist and hateful speech, and other forms of verbal abuse were common occurrences in the games that had RAT-IRL and his friends.
The creation of L9
In season 6, with the introduction of clubs to League, RAT-IRL and his friends Obsess, Selfmademan, and Ap0calypse saw an opportunity to further establish and distinguish themselves from the rest of the high elo community as well as interact with each other. This was also the time when Discord was becoming more popular, where RAT created his server consisting of his friends and other like-minded people. The discussions and content in the server became a myth among the League community and being part of the L9 clan was a prestige validation because of the skill and toxicity displayed by the members. With multiple banned accounts being considered a badge of honor, and the exclusivity of the club, it created massive hype surrounding the members.
Even though RAT has admitted that the club was created as a joke and not with malicious intent, a few tweets drew attention, making it so that everyone wanted to be a part of L9. At the same time, RAT started streaming on the Twitch platform to debunk the scripting rumors, showcasing his gameplay and attitude to the audience that was eager to find out more about the group that everyone talked about. The content of his streams varied from montage-worthy Penta kills on Twitch and Master Yi on the regular, styling on pro players in intense games, high elo games, and finally examples of his negative attitude and behavior that were displayed to thousands of viewers across multiple platforms.
Infamous League players - RAT IRL
But then something happened and it would change the lives of RAT-IRL and the rest of the L9 members. In the summer of 2017, a Youtube channel called League Recap released a video called "Infamous League Players - RAT IRL". The video consisted of clips from RAT's and other's streams, showcasing his gameplay, getting praise from G2 Perkz, and other pro players, who went on to be the most decorated Western player to date. But RAT couldn't manage to escape his image, with the video also showing examples of his negative behavior and attitude. In the end, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it made RAT and L9 far more popular than they could ever imagine, completely changing their lives and opening new possibilities.
The newfound popularity offered many opportunities for RAT and his friends, which they used to their advantage. In 2019, RAT-IRL decided to focus on streaming as a full-time job and a career as a content creator on Youtube. Selfmade started playing in competitive regional leagues and is now a LEC jungler, the highest level of competitive play in Europe, for teams like SK, Fnatic, and currently Vitality. Obsess also pursued a career in competitive play in the regional leagues while Ap0calypse is still playing the game reaching rank one and 1500 lp on several occasions in season 10, but besides that little is known about him.
His career and life as a streamer
Nowadays, RAT-IRL is focused on content creation for his Youtube channel and streaming on the Twitch platform. He's been growing steadily ever since he started using a microphone in the summer of 2019, amassing over 600 thousand followers on his Twitch account at the time of writing this. His daily streams average about 5 to 7 thousand live viewers at any moment and peak at 10 thousand, making him one of the top channels in the League section on Twitch. On his Youtube channel, he has over 260 thousand subscribers, with videos being posted daily by his editor, League Recap, the same person that made the video that catapulted RAT's popularity back in 2017. RAT-IRL managed to create such a successful brand by completely reforming his behavior apart from a few instances meant for entertainment purposes. While most of his early fan base was initially attracted to his toxic persona that simply has no place in League, today, most of his current fans are here for his entertainment values. People come to his stream for his funny personality and gameplay, to chat with the "bros" as RAT calls his viewers, and listen to his music selection depending on his mood, from the famous Rat IRL test one playlist.
Although RAT has never disclosed his identity, or shown his face for that matter, he has still managed to garner a large following on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. In 2018 IWillDominate, a friend of RAT-IRL and former pro player showed on stream, Discord messages with screenshots of pictures RAT-IRL sent to him on Snapchat. This level of anonymity has ensured that people's perception of RAT is based on his content and personality as it should, rather than his past and appearance.
It's been quite a journey for RAT-IRL, but it's one of many that proves anyone can change positively and good things come to those that emphasize improving themselves.