The Best Twitch Channels of 2016

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While YouTube channels have been making big waves and bigger gains in 2016, it's still got a long way to go to compete with the current Content Stream Supreme in Twitch.tv. Like Youtube, Twitch has offered gamers from all over a way to cut the cord and get their entertainment exclusively from streaming sources, opening up whole new avenues for would-be entertainers and gaming enthusiasts.

Twitch stands apart from the rest of the pack in content, though -- viewers aren't just here to get their news or characters, but also to watch the best of the best crush their competition on a daily (or at least regularly scheduled) basis. 

With all that out of the way, here are the best Twitch channels of 2016. While many are familiar chart toppers, there's good reason -- they're the best at what they do, and all deserve that sweet, sweet Twitch Prime sub.

The League of (Streaming) Legends

No surprise here - one of Twitch's most consistent top 5 games and the leading (nonValve) title in eSports, League of Legends has generated some of the most prolific streamers in the world for years running. 

Holding down the top four single streamer slots by views, TheOddOneDyrus, imaqtpie and Nightblue3 have shown Twitch that while this may have been the "Year of Blizzard" news-wise, we're all still living in Riot's world.

If you're in the mood for some of the highest tier League of Legends gameplay, even higher tier trolling, or the glorious mane of qtpie's locks, be sure to check out this legendary league of Twitch top streamers.

Kripparian

Continuing TSM's dominance of the Twitch Ladder, Octavian "Kripparrian/Kripp" Morosan is the most viewed Hearthstone player in the world -- and the first non-org, non-League of Legends stream to make the charts.

Kripp's come a long way since his origin making a name for himself in the World of Warcraft. While he made some stops in Diablo III (including the pre-nerf world-first Hardcore Diablo kill on Inferno difficulty), and had enough success in growing Path of Exile for the game devs to give him a shoutout in the credits, Kripp really took off after he became one of the most prolific Hearthstone Arena streamers around.

Sporting no less than four different awards from Blizzard itself, including "Favorite Hearthstone stream," "Most Engaged Viewers," second place in "Highest Stream Viewer Average," and a solid bronze third in "Most Popular Non-English Streamer" (based on popularity in non-English regions while streaming Blizzard games), Kripp has since become the name of the Arena game in the massively successful CCG title.

Whether you're watching him cast or play, if you need a place to up your Arena/limited skills -- Kripp is the man to watch.

LIRIK

Though he's been in and out of the Twitch/streaming game since 2011, LIRIK didn't really take off until around 2012, when he broke out with DayZ streams.

A variety streamer in the most classic sense, LIRIK constantly keeps up with the new, flashy titles in the gaming world and brings them to his ever-growing fanbase. While the League and Hearthstone streamers have dedicated themselves to mastering one craft for their viewers, LIRIK has dedicated himself to mastering the craft of viewers.

With followers numbering in the millions and an evolving gaming landscape to explore, LIRIK is the essential Twitch streamer -- engaging, entertaining, and ever-changing.

If you're ever cruising the Twitch channels between rounds or just looking for info on gaming's newest big title, it's hard to go wrong with LIRIK.

Sodapoppin

CEO of Northern Gaming, a multi-title gaming house. One of the most prolific World of Warcraft streamers still in the game, and competitive Arena-grinder. A name so large it makes it way into nearly every "Twitch cancer" wubstep mashup.

It's hard to talk about Twitch without talking about Chance "Sodapoppin" Morris. 

While his streams have certainly expanded with his viewer base -- regularly making videos and streams of off-WoW content, exploring VR, getting pranked on by men outside his window, and being half of the ever-engaging trainwreck sitcom public story of his relationship with LegendaryLea, Sodapoppin has been one of the biggest names in the game for years now, and continues his stream dominance in 2016.

If you're looking for new streamers to check out, make sure the first one down is Sodapoppin.

It always is.

Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ)

AGDQ is the Haley's Comet of Twitch streams - a few times a year (barring the HOTFIX streams in between), this Charity fundraising platform broadcasts some of its speed-running to the streaming world for those of us unable to attend in person.

Not a single person, but different from the competitive organization framework present elsewhere, AGDQ has the benefit of showcasing a variety-streamer level of content and genres with the skill of a single title streamer each and every time.

Also, y'know, all proceeds (Twitch and otherwise) tend to go towards various charities like Doctors Without Borders or the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and they've managed to grind out over 8 million dollars in charitable donations so far. If you're looking to add a little Holiday Spirit to your Twitch viewership, you could do much worse than AGDQ.

If checking them out over Twitch isn't enough, you can always keep an eye on ticket availability, game schedule, and location of their live events a the gamesdonequick home site.

Shadbase

In direct contrast to the giving spirit and togetherness of humanity through video games in AGDQ, here (thanks to the rather new addition of the Creative broadcast type in Twitch, as it moves in on Youtube's territory) we have... well. Shadbase.

While I can't really support the material, the man is good at what he does -- and what he does is CG art. Well. "Art."

If you follow.

More a notable stream than one of the best, the Shadman does have the rather large distinction of being the most viewed stream on Twitch that, despite the content of his work being heavily video game-centric, doesn't actually involve playing video games.

When you're on a platform ostensibly for video games and video game content, and you're beating out, say, the Bjergerking, TSM's Bjergsen on views (coming in a full 24 ranks above the star League Mid) without even playing a game - that's an accomplishment.

Definitely not for the faint of heart, children, the elderly, anyone under the age of 18, anyone over the age of 18, or anyone at all, Shadbasemurdertv exists. If you're into that kind of thing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go scrub my hard drive with bleach.

The Company Channels

Last, but certainly not least, are the honorable mentions - the company or competitive organization streams themselves.

The biggest draw of Twitch for a long time running, the actual competitive match showcases of League of Legends (via riotgames), DOTA 2 (via starladder1 and beyondthesummit), CS:GO (ESL CS:GO), and even up and coming contender SMITE (now on hireztv, formerly smitegame) are the big draws to the stream platform.

If tuning into our favorite streamers across the network to watch between classes, or enjoy while we grind through work is quickly becoming "the new TV", these are the Pay Per View level events - the new Heavyweight Champs, the virtual Superbowls.

Occupying slots 1, 2, 3, 4, 14, and 16 by themselves (not even mentioning countless other slots for alternate-language channels run by the same companies), Twitch.tv might be where anybody can become somebody, but at the end of the day, numbers don't lie.

This isn't Youtube. We're not here to watch the Green brothers. We're here for the big shows. The main events. The star attractions.

We're here for the games.

Or are we? What was your favorite Twitch channel of 2016? Be sure to let us know in the comments below if we missed your favorite stream!

Published Dec. 12th 2016

Columnist

Writer, analyst, conqueror of games, vanquisher of Hard Modes. Can lift an entire car tire over his head. Capable of cooking even the most difficult of TV dinners. Drinks coffee from bowls. Known frolicker. Is a professional pretend wizard.

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