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Phenomena of 2020: Gaules

Phenomena of 2020: Gaules

He became the leader in terms of hours watched for both May and June, reaching the record 390,000 thousand peak viewers on his stream.

The first half of 2020 saw him becoming the second most popular streamer, while by the end of 2019 his channel was among Twitch's top ten. Alexandre “Gaules” Borba is the main Brazilian CS:GO streamer, whose journey was that from deep depression to global popularity.

For many, Gaules is a name that evokes the constant news of viewability records and emotional YouTube videos. However, for the Brazilian esports scene, Alexandre would be one of the most significant figures in esports history. He was a professional CS 1.6 player and a creator of the g3nerationX esports organization – which, in a few years, became a multigaming one.

Most popular Gaules clips of All Time

In 2007, he became one of the first Counter-Strike coaches in history. Together with MIBR, he won the main tournament of that time, DreamHack Winter. The role of mentor standing behind the players' backs became a staple of the competitive CS scene not in the least because of Gaules.

Later on, after working for over two years in Samsung marketing department, Alexandre pretty much became a driving force behind the scenes of the Brazilian esports scene.

He was the founder of the production company responsible for creating content for teams and brands and likewise stood at the origins of the Brasil Gaming League (which facilitated the growth of the local Counter-Strike scene). In collaboration with x5 store, Gaules created the first Brazilian agency to specialize in esports marketing – Agencia X5.

Then, together with partners, he built Mega Arena X5 – an esports arena of 4 thousand square meters, functioning as a computer club, a tournament venue and a theme store all at once. And that's without mentioning the number of championships Gaules and his companies participated in the production of. Out of these, 2014's CBLoL was one of the biggest ones – with its finals being held at the Maracanãzinho sports complex for 12 thousand viewers becoming a huge event for Brazilian esports.

However, the successful business career fell apart in merely one year. In 2017, Gaules left previous projects and sold his shares in companies, but unsuccessfully invested the proceeds.

Financial problems were further intensified by emergence personal problems, leading to Alexandre being diagnosed with severe depression after a breakdown in the middle of the year.

Few months later, he was kicked out of the house by his girlfriend. Once a successful businessman known to proudly talk about his grand projects on social networks was now left without money for living, without a home, all while facing the depression.

"I've always had a difficult life," he said in one of his videos regarding the disorder. - But surfacing this year was a lot of my family history, a lot of professional things. Much of what destroyed me from the inside. I thought I could handle it. I thought I could handle it, be a real warrior. But the depression is stronger. Depression is eating you up. Depression destroys you. It takes away all the light and separates you from the people you love. And every day you are visited by the same thought: "Why do I even live? There's no sense to be found here."

At the end of 2017, Gaules went through one of the toughest periods of his life. The depressive disorder drove him to a suicide attempt. However, Alexandre has mustered the strength to move on. Helping him with this was none other than Twitch.

"I will stream as if I'd die tomorrow,” Gaules said about his thoughts.

He launched his first stream in January 2018. At that time, Alexandre had no money for living, renting a small apartment the main room of which could only accommodate a wardrobe, a PC table, and a mattress (at first he didn't even have a bed). What Gaules did have, however, was a lot of stories to be shared with his viewers.

“This was my big therapy”, explained Alexandre. -“I started streaming at 7-8 PM and kept broadcasting until 5-8 AM. This is the time of people suffering from insomnia, depressed people, people who feel lonely. I felt bad, they felt bad. So let's just spend this time together. Maybe together we can fix everything.”

In the early days, he would broadcast for 5-10 people. He was playing CS:GO, watching matches and talking about his career and the players he knew. Then, in January, he became a commentator of his first major: ELEAGUE Major 2018.

While nowadays the matches on his channel are gathering 300 thousand viewers, back then the final match he commented on was viewed by a little more than 4 thousand viewers – while some matches maxed out at 300 viewers. In the first month he had over 300 hours of streaming (and that's with two days off!) and earned $80. The money was spent on food and medicines required.

At that time, the former esports colleagues of Gaules scoffed at his attempts to build a streamer career. Gaules recounted how one of them even wrote that he was ashamed to see an ex-professional player and award-winning coach "begging for money" at broadcasts. However, Alexandre was motivated by this, setting himself a goal of developing his channel using any means possible.

Already in February, Gaules set his first personal record of more than 5 thousand broadcast viewers. It should be noted that such an indicator was reached as a result of successful hosting done by his colleagues – but Alexandre continued the stream for more than 16 hours to keep the audience that arrived.

In May, he shared a new achievement on his Facebook page: the channel has achieved a total of 2 million views since its inception. In July, Gaules managed to reach past the mark of 15 thousand broadcast viewers when he was a Portuguese-language commentator on the American minor for FACEIT Major 2018, in which Furia took part.

Once he managed to gain a loyal fan base following his channel, Gaules began broadcasting matches of small regional tournaments, of the kind not reached by other commentators and official studios. This was his way of helping the local CS:GO scene.

Already in September 2018, his channel broke the record for the minutes watched per month. It took Gaules only nine months to go from earning money for antidepressants by broadcasting to becoming the CS:GO section's most popular streamer.

The phenomenon of Gaules can be easily explained by taking a look at his channel. While the tone of official broadcasts tended to be serious, complete with commentators wearing suits, the stream of Alexandre had a rather cozy atmosphere.

His behavior and communication style serve to create an impression of watching a match not on Twitch but while hanging out with a company of friends. He is not afraid of showing bias, is very concerned about the Brazilian teams, laughs, screams and cries – out of happiness after loud victories, and out of sadness after hard defeats. He is accompanied by famous members of Brazilian CS community who are also willing to share their stories.

Aside from this, Gaules eventually managed to reach agreements with many tournament operators. Among other things, he spends money from viewer donations on buying rights to broadcast championships – which allows him to enter the HLTV streams list without facing ban-related problems. In case an agreement fails, he is not above streaming a black screen while talking about what is happening in the match.

However, many people fell in love with streams of Gaules not only for the CS:GO broadcasts alone – but also for the sincerity of the communication itself. Whenever possible, Alexandre answers questions from the chat, helps to deal with the problems, or talks about difficult topics – such as violence, depression and crises. Because of this, his fanbase became not just another faceless crowd of viewers, but a real tribe – Tribo.

At first, people helped Alexandre to get through a difficult period in his life, and now he returns the favor by helping the others – and encourages his viewers to do the same. Once Gaules started earning enough money through broadcasting to support his livelihood, he started spending part of donations on charity – helping students that cannot pay for tuition, people with health problems, as well as those who became homeless – as he himself used to be.

"The Tribe helps the Tribe," says Gaules.

The spring of 2020 saw him donate R$217,000 to CUFA, Central Única das Favelas, to help people in need with fighting the coronavirus. Of this amount, 61 thousand were collected during the broadcasts of the Hold This Position Cup charity tournament, with another 156 thousand being invested by Gaules himself, in order to honor the channel's next peak viewers record being reached.

It was the views- and audience-related records that made Gaules a hot topic among the worldwide community. At the end of 2019, he was one of top ten most popular streamers based on the hours watched (over 48 million).

Among these, he was the only one to stream in a language other than English. When it came to achieving such a result, he was helped not only by the impressive viewer records (such as 148 thousand viewers for the Mibr vs Astralis match during IEM Katowice Major 2019), but also being a rather consistent streamer.

For the entirety of 2019, his statistics does not have a single day when his channel wouldn't launch a new broadcast, or at least a recast of the previous stream – the latter kind also tends to collect many viewers. All of this also allowed him to take the lead in terms of airtime – scoring more than 8 thousand hours per year.

Still, it was 2020 that brought a real breakthrough for Gaules. The record streak was started with MIBR vs Furia at ESL Pro League Season 11 North America on March 30th. Alexandre's broadcast gathered more than 150 thousand viewers, a record-breaking amount for the Brazilian Twitch community. That's while the official ESL stream did not reach even 85 thousand.

Gaules set the next record both for himself and for Portuguese-language streams on May 3rd. It once again happened during the MIBR vs Furia match, but this time at ESL One: Road to Rio. At that time his broadcast gathered 182 thousand viewers, hence beating the result of MIBRTV and the Flashpoint Final. Aside from setting a new bar, this also allowed Alexandre to become Twitch's most watched streamer in May.

In Brazilian community, June was marked by a real race for the views and viewers alike. Fighting Gaules for the viewer attention and new records was CBLoL – the official channel of the Brazilian League of Legends league.

Alexandre was the first to reach the 200,000 viewers mark, followed by Riot quickly raising the bar by scoring 235,000 viewers during the Flamengo vs Pain match.

The BLAST broadcast had Gaules setting a new goal for his community – 250 thousand viewers – by launching the #Tribonera250k hashtag and promising to wear lipstick should he beat this record. The wait wasn't long, as the EG-MIBR match brought the Brazilian streamer whopping 266,000 peak viewers. This was also the first record set with the participation of only one Brazilian team.

Still, even this mark was not the limit. The final match of BLAST Premier Spring 2020 (between the same MIBR and EG) brought Gaules his main success. While at the beginning of the tournament the fans of the streamer held a modest hope for 300 thousand peak viewers in an event of MIBR vs Furia playoffs encounter, the stakes turned out to be much higher.

During the tournament's grand final Alexandre's broadcast gathered more than 390 thousand peak viewers instead. While impressive in its own right, we can't help but wish the indicator wouldn't fall short of a round figure of 400 thousand.

The incredible success of BLAST and DreamHack Masters has once again propelled Gaules to becoming Twitch's #1 streamer of the month. Now he is twice ahead of his closest rivals in terms of hours watched, almost thrice ahead of them in terms of airtime and almost five times ahead in terms of peak viewers.

The phenomenon of Gaules can be explained by a variety of factors. The growing popularity of CS:GO in Brazil, where Valve's shooter is one of the region's top 3 games, definitely had its role to play. Also contributing to this was the popularity of the MIBR players, led by Fallen (a legend of the Brazilian esports scene) along with the development of new players in the face of Furia. The recent records can be explained by the discipline's transition to online format.

Aside from the viewers now spending more time on Twitch, a large number of rather similar broadcasts forced the audience to look for original content. Channel of Gaules gathers not only Brazilian fans, but also those English-speaking and even Russian-speaking – all of whom are there to enjoy the atmosphere of the live stream. Meanwhile, in August his audience officially moved to the European region, following the broadcasts of MiBR in ESL One Cologne Europe.

But the most important factors are the hard work and dedication of Gaules himself – not only leading him to success but also allowing him to recover from a serious disorder. Each time after breaking a new record, Alexandre is setting new goals for himself – and gives his sincere thanks to his Tribe after achieving these. Knowing how passionate the Brazilian community regarding the esports, the mark of 400 thousand viewers seems to be just around the corner.

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