Sting Like a B-Button
Rival YouTubers Are About to Fistfight in an Olympic Arena IRL
Two enemy YouTubers with tens of millions of subscribers will box in a 7,500-seat arena on Saturday. But fans are starting to wonder if the rage is real.
Two of YouTube’s most popular creators will square off in a boxing match on Saturday to settle months of drama in what’s being called the Mayweather-McGregor of YouTube.
KSI, a YouTube star with over 17.5 millions subscribers, and Joe Weller, a YouTuber with nearly 5 million subscribers, both initially became popular through playing competitive video games including FIFA, a soccer video game.
Their battle will take place, in real life, in a London arena at 11 a.m. EST on Saturday in front of thousands of fans. Both stars will also simultaneously stream the morning’s events on their respective YouTube channels.
American supporters and YouTube influencers, including de facto YouTube ombudsman Keemstar, are flying over to watch the fight and cheer on their designated YouTubers.
Drama within the YouTube community is nothing new. Over the past year, shock content and manufactured disputes have become the YouTube influencer community’s favored way of driving views and racking up followers.
While these beefs are normally settled through an escalating series of diss tracks, Saturday’s fight is the first time two top YouTube stars have physically battled for views.
The KSI and Weller “feud” all began last summer.
Since 2013, KSI has been part of a YouTube gaming collective called Sidemen. For years, he and his six friends have uploaded videos to their shared channel largely related to FIFA, Grand Theft Auto, and Call of Duty.
Sometime around last summer KSI, the most famous member of the group, announced he was leaving Sidemen. That’s when the drama began.
Weller is close friends with other members of Sidemen and supposedly took offense to KSI ditching out on his crew. The two sparred on Twitter, where KSI referred to Weller as “irrelevant.”
KSI quickly returned to Sidemen, failing to actually abandon the group. He and Weller, however, have continued to exchange insults online.
In August 2012, KSI made a Twitter poll asking which of his haters he should fight in a boxing match. Weller was the fan favorite.
Weller responded saying that “the poll is basically ‘do you wanna see [KSI] get fucked up, or not?’”
The two then began releasing diss tracks on each other before deciding to face off in an actual fight in February.
Since their agreement to fight, the two have gone back and forth on YouTube. Both YouTubers have also been training and physically gearing up for the match.
On Jan. 30, KSI uploaded a video in which he knocked out a professional boxing trainer. Although Weller has legitimate boxing experience, KSI is favored to win.
If you’re confused about why there’s so much anger and build up around a petty quibble, you’re not alone. Many fans are confused at why the two YouTubers seem to hate each other so much over ostensibly nothing.
The two stars run in the same communities, have similar fanbases, and mutual real-life friends. The feud has all the hallmarks of fake drama.
On a Reddit thread asking to summarize Weller and KSI’s feud, fans weighed in, saying that they thought the whole thing was simply a ploy for views.
“Fake beef for views and money,” one fan said.
“Fake YouTube drama for views. Fake like the drama with sidemen... Content for children. I saw their face-to-face thing that boxers do on dramaalert and I almost puked of cringe. Don’t believe in any of this shit. If you enjoy it, have in mind that it’s 99% fake,” said another.
“I know it’s fake, but i hope one of them accidentally kills the other,” another fan added.
According to one YouTube pundit with knowledge of the feud, KSI and Weller actually hatched the plan for the fake beef last summer via private DMs.
Their plan was to mimic Jake and Logan Paul’s diss track war. Jake and Logan Paul are two of YouTube’s most famous and iconic influencers. Before Logan made the news for vlogging the dead body of a suicide victim, he and his brother were most well-known for squaring off in a pretend fight carried out on YouTube and resulting in each of them racking up millions of views and subscribers.
Weller, however claimed his beef with KSI is real and addressed fan skepticism in a video uploaded in September.
“As much as it might have just started out as us bantering and digging on each other, whatever,” he said, “at the end of the day this whole thing has got very out of hand. The way he runs his mouth like a little bitch. I don’t like him, I don’t respect him. He’s an absolute goon. Plus the way he reckons he can just walk all over me like he does with everyone else. I ain’t having it.”
That same month the two got in each others faces during Upload, a festival for YouTubers and gamers in the U.K. They held a joint press conference on stage during the event where they called each other “pussies” and traded insults before getting physical and being escorted off stage by security.
As the match approaches, however, fans are rabid for a fight, whether it’s manufactured or not. “If these guys were doing a pay per view, it would rival pro boxing,” said Josh Pescatore of the DramaAlert news team.
This is not the first time YouTube has been compared to the WWE. In the online influencer world, fabricated romance plays out just as frequently as fake beef.
Jake Paul, for instance, has heavily monetized his supposed relationships with women as much as his brotherly feud. In an interview with The New York Times last summer he confirmed that he wasn’t actually dating his supposed girlfriend at the time.
“It’s like the WWE,” he said. “People know that’s fake, and it’s one of the biggest things of entertainment.”