James "Phantoml0rd" Varga is back to work after being banned from Twitch for violating that platform’s terms of service. His first broadcast on YouTube in more than a year included a statement from his lawyer indicating that he would be fighting his ban in court.
This time last year Varga was swept up in a series of explosive controversies surrounding the practice of “skin gambling” in Valve’s popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive game. Varga was among several high-profile personalities to be accused of promoting gambling sites in which they were financially invested. Varga’s alleged relationship with one such site, called CSGOShuffle, was never fully explained.
As more details came out in July 2016, Twitch banned broadcasting skin gambling on its platform. Later that same month, Varga’s Twitch account was permanently disabled. Polygon reached out to Twitch for an explanation, but none was given.
Varga retreated from the public eye for exactly one year — until today, when he showed up with a YouTube video lashing out at Twitch and his many critics.
“I’m not being sued right now. I haven’t been to jail,” Varga said. “You guys think I’m in Mexico. Like what the fuck? I’ve just been here chilling, and it’s taken a year because you guys are fucking savage.”
In the lead up to his six-minute tirade, Varga took time to read a prepared statement from his lawyer.
“As many of you are already aware there is an ongoing dispute between myself and Twitch.TV,” the statement said. “As a result I am not currently providing content through Twitch.TV. While I cannot and will not comment on the substance of this dispute, I assure you that I am considering all of my legal options and am looking forward to asserting my rights to the fullest extent of the law.”
Reached for comment, a Twitch representative gave the same response they gave in 2016: “We don't comment on terms of service violations.”
Varga first made headlines when, in 2013, he was the victim of multiple SWATting attacks. While occupying the top slot on Twitch, viewers made a false calls to emergency services in the Los Angeles area, prompting multiple armed responses in a single day. His YouTube channel, which hasn’t been used since 2016, remains strong with more than 500,000 subscribers.