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The Stunning Transformation Of NickMercs

What's the secret to becoming a major streamer? Whether it's gaming skills, an entertaining personality, a willingness to grind, or just blind luck, NickMercs has it. Today, NickMercs is one of the most recognizable streamers on Twitch. He's a prominent member (and part owner) of FaZe Clan, and he's nabbed sponsorship deals with brands like the NFL and Under Armour. NickMercs is the embodiment of competitive gaming gone mainstream (in a good way), and he can manage the banter of a late night talk show host while coming out on top in an "Apex Legends" match.


It wasn't always this way, though. Years ago, NickMercs was a teenage gamer just discovering competitive play through the "Gears of War" series. Back then, he never dreamed that gaming could become a stable career, nor that millions of people would show up to watch him land headshot after headshot with a smile on his face. He just kept playing and bringing his all to every game and every stream. NickMercs has transformed from gaming fanboy to streaming superstar.

He comes from a family of athletes

Long before NickMercs was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, his family was encouraging him to be an athlete — they just didn't exactly consider competitive gaming to be a real sport. "My dad and mom, they would never let me play," he told The Verge. While it frustrated him at the time, he can see where they were coming from in retrospect. Nick explained, "Like gaming was not there yet, so they were just trying to be good parents."


They also had every reason to suspect that NickMercs would be better off channeling his energy into a traditional sport. His dad was a college baseball player who later became a coach. His brother was a college wrestler, and three of his cousins found their way to playing in the NFL. Most of his family couldn't understand why NickMercs had a passion for grinding away at video games instead of running on the field. "I'm like the black sheep," he said in an interview on The Daily Show. Now that he's not only built himself a successful career as a professional gamer but also landed himself on the cover of one of the biggest sports magazines in the world, it sounds like his family is starting to come around.


He was a teenage gaming pro

NickMercs has a history in competitive gaming that goes back much further than his history as a streamer. He told The Verge that he discovered the thrill of dominating online when "Gears of War" first released. "I was 15 years old, and I was in high school. I was a freshman or sophomore," he said, and when he first started playing competitive matches, his life was changed forever. He found out that he didn't just enjoy the game, he was also incredibly good at it, and he kept honing his skills for years.


When "Gears of War 2" came out, NickMercs and some of his friends dove headfirst into the competitive scene. "We took it very seriously," he said. They played matches every single day, and more often than not, they won. Eventually their team started playing at LAN tournaments across the country, earning enough money to pay for their flights and hotels, but not even to transform their life plans. When NickMercs graduated high school, he put gaming on the back burner and left for college. Even though it would take him years to truly return to the scene, he'd already caught the bug.

He was almost a Navy SEAL

NickMercs told The Verge that after leaving high school he was "just a confused 18-, 19-, 20-year-old not really knowing what [he] wanted to do." He enrolled at a community college, but found himself more interested in going to the gym and watching videos online than showing up to any classes. He briefly considered becoming a cop before deciding to set his sights even higher. He eventually landed on the idea of becoming a Navy SEAL, which meant he had to leave school, his family, and gaming behind.


"It was one of, if not the, hardest thing I've ever tried to do in my life," he said of the decision. NickMercs joined the Navy, but he didn't make the cut for becoming a SEAL. During the course of his training, he made an unfortunate discovery: going deep underwater makes him pass out. "I get about halfway through whatever we're doing, and I try to come up for air or I'm gonna pass the [expletive] out." That didn't stop him from trying over and over again, but the underwater exercises caused him to lose consciousness repeatedly. The Navy let him stay on base working as a janitor for a little while, but then NickMercs was thrown back into the real world with more question marks in his future than ever.


He found early success while streaming

With his hopes of being a Navy SEAL dashed, NickMercs returned to college, but like before, he was lacking the passion. He quickly got back into gaming, and on the advice of some friends, he decided to give streaming a shot (via The Verge). Seemingly overnight, everything fell into place. "I went from 100 subs to 200 subs to 300 to 1,000, you know, just cruising," he explained. NickMercs realized he had a real future in this new world of entertainment.


When it came to growing his fanbase, NickMercs made all the right moves, but he also wasn't afraid to take risks. He joined the 100 Thieves esports org, knowing that would help raise his profile and give him some muc-needed partners in the streaming world. At the same time, he chose to focus on his own enjoyment while streaming rather than to chase the current hot game. He said, "I knew that, you know what, if I'm not having fun, it's just not as good content." 

When NickMercs started playing "Fortnite," he lost more than half his subscribers who'd originally shown up for "Call of Duty" gameplay. Despite the loss, NickMercs persisted, and his channel was better for the decision in the long run.


He left 100 Thieves for FaZe Clan

NickMercs worked as a member of 100 Thieves for years, growing his own profile while also boosting engagement for the team as a whole. Then in 2019, he shocked his fans and followers by suddenly announcing that he was leaving 100 Thieves. Only a few days after making the announcement, NickMercs shared another big piece of news: He had signed on as a member of FaZe Clan. 


Fans couldn't wrap their heads around the decision at first, but NickMercs was very open about his reasoning. On his stream, he talked about how Nadeshot, the owner of 100 Thieves, had allegedly broken promises to him. "No, we're not cool. No, we're not friends, and I don't want anything to do with him at all," he said. NickMercs wanted to focus on playing and streaming, and FaZe Clan was able to offer him that. 

And clearly, his relationship with his new team is going well. Not quite two years after joining the team, NickMercs became a part-owner of FaZe Clan. Now the gamer has more say in the direction of the team and more freedom in terms of his own role. 

He married his high school sweetheart

Life isn't all matchmaking lobbies and headshots, even for someone like NickMercs. In October 2020, he celebrated a big milestone in his personal life when he married his longtime girlfriend. According to The Verge, the two of them met back when NickMercs was just 12 years old, and she's been there ever since. When NickMercs was trying to find his way in his early college years, he relied on her advice to get him through.


NickMercs' wife has been in his life for almost two decades now, but his fans in the streaming community know almost nothing about her. She's appeared on his stream before, but for the most part, NickMercs has worked hard to keep his personal life entirely separate from his streaming life. His fans know his wife as "Emumita Bonita," but that's not even her real name. It's a nickname that he made up for her. Streamers don't often get much privacy — and some have accidentally leaked their personal info on stream — but NickMercs' fans have generally been very respectful and have let the couple keep their life together as private as possible.

He's worked with famous sponsors

Streaming can open doors into areas beyond gaming, and that's exactly what it's done for NickMercs. After making it big as a streamer, he got the opportunity to start working with some big name sponsors. When Twitch started streaming Thursday Night Football, NickMercs got his first chance to work alongside the NFL. In 2019, he signed a deal to make an appearance at the draft in Nashville, Tennessee (via Esports Observer). That partnership was incredibly successful, which is why the NFL brought NickMercs back in 2021 to help create some promotional material.


NickMercs has also been branching out in the merchandising department. According to Dot Esports, he signed a sponsorship deal with Under Armour in late 2021. As part of this deal, he started wearing Under Armour in his streams (some of which showed fans his workout routine), and the company even created some custom items for him. On top of the swag, Under Armour also gave NickMercs access to the UA Human Performance Team – a group that helps train elite athletes that work with the company. NickMercs' partnership with the company is still in its early days, and there's bound to be more collaborative projects between them in the future.

Streaming has its downsides

From the outside, it seems like NickMercs has nothing in life to complain about. He's married to the woman of his dreams, he's got a successful streaming career, and he's working with some of the biggest athletic brands in the whole world. All success comes at a cost, though, and NickMercs has discovered firsthand that being a popular streamer can definitely have its downsides.


NickMercs recently opened up about some of the extreme and often dangerous harassment he faces from strangers online. "You know I get swatted like three times a [expletive] week, you know that?" he said while streaming on his channel. "Swatting" is when someone calls in a false police report trying to get a swat team sent to another person's house. NickMercs admitted he's had to go to the police himself, just to try and get some repeat harassers to leave him alone.

Fans had been asking NickMercs why he didn't stream with his wife more often, and his honest answer was that he didn't want to expose her to some of the people he's come across online. "I don't want anyone to feel bad for me," he said, "I just want you to understand that if you were in my shoes you wouldn't want to put your people on the stream that often either." Streaming might be a dream come true for NickMercs, but just like anything else, it isn't completely perfect.


He's sticking with Twitch

With all the pressure and scrutiny that comes along with streaming, it's no wonder that some streamers have admitted they wanted to quit. And with the harassment that NickMercs has faced from Twitch's most toxic viewers, it wouldn't be all that surprising to learn he's harboring retirement plans as well, but luckily for his fans, that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, he's not just committed to streaming, he's also committed to the platform that's helped him get this far.


Twitch used to be the only place where streamers could gather and connect with their audiences, but recently YouTube and Facebook have been working hard to develop competing platforms. In early October 2021, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that NickMercs hasn't been pulled away by either of Twitch's top competitors. "Twitch is where I built my community, it's home," NickMercs said. He plans on staying at home for the foreseeable future after signing a new exclusive deal with Twitch. The terms of his agreement with the platform were kept under wraps, but NickMercs joined other prominent streamers like Pokimane in staying committed to the site that jumpstarted their careers.