Syndicate (Internet personality)

Thomas George Cassell (born 23 June 1993), known online as Syndicate, is an English YouTuber and Twitch streamer. Regarded as one of the earlier known gaming personalities, his videography consisted of gaming–commentary videos on Call of Duty and Minecraft, in which he uploaded frequently on his YouTube channel originally named "TheSyndicateProject". During his early life, Cassell developed a passion for a career in the gaming industry, where he started with a gaming computer he bought using his money from McDonald's and filmed his videos during his school holidays. His online personality and growth in viewership was recognized by Call of Duty publisher Activision and multi-channel network (MCN) Machinima, where he signed to the network through a contract offer to produce monetized content for the first time.

Syndicate
Tom Cassell Insomnia 63.jpg
Cassell in August 2018
Born
Thomas George Cassell

(1993-06-23) 23 June 1993 (age 29)
Manchester, England
Other namesTom Cassell
Occupation
Years active2010–present
YouTube information
Channel
Genre
Subscribers
  • 9.72 million (main channel)
  • 12.2 million (combined)
[1]
Total views
  • 2.1 billion (main channel)
  • 2.7 billion (combined)
[1]
Network
Associated acts
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2011[2]
YouTube Gold Play Button 2.svg 1,000,000 subscribers 2012[3][4]
YouTube Diamond Play Button.svg 10,000,000 subscribers 2016[a]

Last updated: 28 August 2022
Twitch information
Channel
GenreGaming
Games
Followers3.1 million
Total views76.3 million
Follower and view counts updated as of 5 August 2022.
Websitesyndicateoriginal.com

Cassell's channel saw substantial growth, passing the one million subscriber milestone in June 2012, and was described by Eurogamer as "part of a phenomenon that the gaming industry has been slow to react to". During the growth of his online presence, Cassell reached one billion views in late 2013, and began to livestream on Twitch, hosting the same commentary over his gameplays. The further success of his Twitch channel made it become the first to reach one million followers in August 2014.

Switching the focus of his YouTube content, Cassell later began to pursue vlogging on his channel named "Life of Tom", where his prominence in the genre took place from his life between Los Angeles and the UK. He and his father had designed his own home, purchasing a nearby property and renovating it to his desire of an extensive gaming area. Cassell has co-founded a range of businesses and made partnerships and collaborations with other Internet personalities. He is the co-founder of the entertainment company 3BlackDot along with Evan Fong and Adam Montoya, and became featured and specialized in other media, spanning from a mobile game to a 12-track compilation album.

Cassell was nominated for "YouTube Gamer" in 2012 at the Golden Joystick Awards and was nominated as best in "Gaming" at the 9th Shorty Awards. He was also nominated as "Best British Vlogger" in 2014 at the BBC Radio 1's Teen Awards, and in 2017, was recognized by Forbes as one of the top gaming influencers. As of 28 August 2022, his gaming YouTube channel has over nine million subscribers and 2.1 billion views, and his Twitch channel has over three million followers. Both of his YouTube channels have a combined total of 12.2 million subscribers and 2.7 billion views.

Early life and educationEdit

 
Cassell attended the Blue Coat school at Oldham

Thomas George Cassell was born on 23 June 1993 in Manchester, England, and is the brother of Alice Cassell.[6][7][8][9] His father worked in construction as a project manager and his mother, Karen Cassell, worked as a children's day care worker.[3][10] Cassell was educated at the Blue Coat school in nearby Oldham, and sold drinks at school to purchase a 42-inch plasma TV at the age of 15, as his father wanted him to work and pay for the items he wanted to get during the time.[3][11] He then attended Hyde Clarendon Sixth Form College in Ashton-under-Lyne and studied software development and video game design in 2010.[12][13]

While his father was skeptical about the decision, Cassell stated that he had a passion for a job posting Let's Play videos on YouTube: "I said I like Call of Duty, I'm making videos and maybe in the future this will be my job."[14][13] After leaving college, he briefly worked at McDonald's and used his former income to purchase gaming equipment to record YouTube videos, saying he was "slaving away" during that time.[14][15] He later quit his job and after gaining a substantial following, his father and college tutor approved of his position as an online gaming commentator.[14][12][3]

Internet careerEdit

2008–2012: Attempts at gaming, sudden growth, and corprate recognitionEdit

 
Cassell explains to students about his early career as an online gamer at a school interview in 2013

Before his initial success and the start of his main gaming channel on YouTube, Cassell uploaded commentary videos on various channels for three years as a hobby, using his school holidays to make them in his free time.[14][16][10] He started filming his gaming commentaries with his father's camera, and fashioned it with video game cases to point it at the TV.[14][16] He then acquired a capture card during 2008 to record his gameplay, in which he was inspired by video compilations of no-scope sniper kills on Call of Duty from a friend.[16][13] In regards to limited advances, Cassell elaborated that video capturing content for YouTube was expensive and how there were few content creators achieving success through the site during this time period. He drew admiration for Shaun Hutchinson's videos, as he was inspired by the idea of forming a personality through a mixture of both commentary and gameplay.[3][13]

After his gaming attempts, Cassell registered his gaming YouTube channel under the name "TheSyndicateProject" (renamed as "Syndicate") on 3 September 2010[3] and his Twitch channel "Syndicate" on 17 October 2010.[14][17] His YouTube channel was built on Let's Play videos on the video game franchises Halo, Grand Theft Auto, and Call of Duty,[16][18][19]. He specifically came to prominence with Grand Theft Auto 5 and the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the Call of Duty: Black Ops "zombies" mode.[13][20][21] Cassell had amassed around 300,000 views on his Call of Duty gameplays when he received a contract offer through an email from multi-channel network (MCN) Machinima. He quoted that this offer was the start of him making gaming videos a full-time career.[16] After passing 500,000 subscribers, his content featured Minecraft gameplay for the first time, titling Let's Play series such as The Minecraft Project and Trinity Island,[15][10] as well as the Twitch series Mianite where Cassell forms a storyline through the game with fellow streamers, such as Jordan Maron and Sonja Reid.[3][20][22]

As Eurogamer reported on his growing popuarity, Will Porter cited that Cassell had attracted the attention Call of Duty publisher Activision during a 2011 GameCity convention. Cassell reflected on the experience of gaining outside recognition: "I'd have to say [game publishers have been] slow [...] there's been a lot of feedback on Call of Duty or other games." Cassell drew connections between the YouTube community and video game criticism, in which he said that endorsement from a prominent company "is the best thing ever", and alluded to the success and importance of corprate recognition.[3] Cassell subsequently registered his vlogging YouTube channel "Life of Tom" on 24 September 2011.[23][24] His gaming channel had over 700,000 subscribers, which made him the most subscribed gaming commentator and director in the UK.[14] The same channel reached one million subscribers in June 2012,[4] and an article from The Sunday Times estimated that Cassell was earning over ₤700,000 a year, or ₤60,000 a month cumulatively.[25]

2013–present: Rapid growth, vlogging and business ventures, and advertising violationsEdit

Cassell co-founded the entertainment company 3BlackDot with YouTubers Evan Fong and Adam Montoya in 2013,[26][27] along with former Machinima executives Angelo Pullen and Luke Stepleton.[28][29] Cassell later reached one billion views on his gaming channel in late 2013. In an interview from Tubefilter, he acknowledged that the feeling was "pretty crazy" and "a huge deal, especially for [him]".[15] Rob Waugh of Yahoo! News commented on Cassell's viewership as having "more viewers than hit TV shows such as EastEnders". In January 2014, Cassell's gaming channel had reached 6.7 million subscribers. He began to embark on vlogging between his residence in Los Angeles and the UK, and started to receive sponsorships, which gave him free travel and gear as part of the deals. He reflected that his established gaming presence had significantly impacted the start a vlogging career, as it opened to new ventures.[16]

 
Cassell in a vlog from YouTuber MuzzaFuzza in 2014

In July, Cassell's gaming channel had reached 7.6 million subscribers and Gamasutra had listed it as the 6th most-subscribed gaming channel on YouTube.[28][30] BBC North West Tonight cited that after four years of his gaming channel had been registered, Cassell's uploads were "watched by millions of people around the world."[10] His Twitch channel then became the first to reach one million followers on 17 August,[31] where he passed the channel for Riot Games to the record beforehand.[32] Subsequently, The Guardian reported that on August 24, Cassell had reached 120,000 concurrent viewers on a Call of Duty livestream through Twitch.[33]

In November, Cassell signed to 3BlackDot's MCN Jetpak as the service went live for a better payment model.[34][35] Gamasutra later reported that Cassell uploaded Let's Play videos of 3BlackDot's game Dead Realm,[27] which failed to comply with FTC guidelines in regards to a disclosure of sponsorship.[36] Cassell had been estimated to earn US$1 million a year cumulatively according to a Wired interview. In November 2015, His gaming channel was nearly at 10 million subscribers, in which Wired noted was more than the channel for Beyoncé at the time.[13]

Cassell attracted widespread media attention in July 2016 when he promoted the skin gambling website CSGO Lotto along with Trevor Martin without disclosing a conflict of interest as vice-president of the company, in conflict with FTC regulations.[37][38] In his videos promoting the site, Cassell had disclosed the endorsements in their descriptions[39][7] and responded that he would be more transparent about these disclosures in the future.[40] The FTC later reached a settlement agreement with Martin and Cassell in September 2017 for disclosing their legal relations and sponsorship deals with companies.[41][7] There were no financial charges held against Cassell.[42][43][44]

In 2016, Cassell's gaming and vlogging channel reached 10 and 2 million subscribers respectively,[20][45] and in August 2018, his Twitch channel had accumulated 2.6 million followers.[24] Throughout his vlogging career, Cassell had travelled to Abu Dhabi and the Acropolis of Athens,[46] and further received corporate recognition for his livestreams, as Insider ranked Cassell as the 7th most popular Twitch streamer worldwide.[18] Activision then collaborated with Cassell to showcase and stream the "Gunfight" multiplayer mode in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) on Twitch.[47]

Content and styleEdit

ProductionEdit

Gaming and livestreamingEdit

In the view of his uploading schedule and gaming content, Cassell mainatined two gaming videos daily[48] and had chosen games that brought about high entertainment value. He described himself as a PC gamer,[49] and presented that Minecraft had been the largest series on his channel. In correlation with this presence, he concluded that he had an interest in sandbox-styled video games. He felt that gaming was supposed to be "more of an adventure, more of a show, or an entertainment platform for people to enjoy".[15]

 
Cassell at the i60 Insomnia Gaming Festival in 2017.

Cassell advised that a high-quality gaming setup and a consistent streaming and uploading schedule was necessary for success.[32][16] In an interview with Game Informer, he opined that playing a persona would negatively alter the notability of a streamer, as he prefers to be authentic with his personality. He spoke that people enjoy a personality as much as the game itself,[16][13] and finds livestreaming with fans and posting videos to be "like having a conversation with friends in real life".[32][3][10] Cassell was fond of the rapid use of social interaction in livestreams.[13][50]

VloggingEdit

Kotaku described Cassell as a daily vlogger.[51] Further in his career, Cassell's YouTube content focused more on vlogging rather than gaming, as he explained that during this transition, he had already satisified his goals as a gamer and began to felt tired from the video genre.[19][48] He noticed a growing interest towards his vlogging content, and said that his motivation "comes down to [the] experiences [there]".[15][19][3] Cassell has frequently played Lisa Mitchell's song "Neopolitan Dreams" in his vlogs, where he recalled that the song was one of the first tracks he received a free music license from.[50]

Cassell expressed that his vlogs were the source for his worldwide recognition.[46] He considered the genre's negative aspects and the diversity of his audience, using his alcoholism as an example to portray one of the his frequent habits.[48] Although this was the case, Cassell still wanted to remain authentic in his videos.[19][46]

Audience and receptionEdit

"I don’t put on another personality where I need to be loud, or be this certain character, [...] I feel like I’m just me. A normal 20-year-old guy that likes to play video games that people can relate to."[15]

– Thomas Cassell, Tubefilter

In an interview with the BBC, Cassell spoke that he did not intend to target a specific audience, and in spite of this, "would not advise a 10-year-old to watch [his] videos". Will Porter of Eurogamer described Cassell's personality as a "cool older brother" and "the kid everyone wanted to be friends with at school".[3] Cassell described the demographics of his audience as "60% Americans, Canadians and [others] scattered around rest of the world",[46] and acknowledged that he feels responsible for them due to his encounters with fans, in proportion to his popularity.[19][48] Despite efforts of becoming a YouTuber, Cassell said that the outcome of his growth was worth the effort.[14] His initial goal on sustaining an audience through YouTube was to gain experience for working at a video game company.[13] His motivation for content creation prominently originated through goals, such as channel viewership and subscriber milestones.[48] Cassell listed his first milestone to 1 million subscribers as an example, in which he described was a prominent achievement in his career. He appreciated the motivation that awards gave him, and attributed that the Gold Play Button granted him a sense of notable and special position.[46] In consideration of his success, Cassell expressed that his audience was "sort of like a family", and mentioned that his video content was always targeted to engage people and make them feel invloved.[15]

Other venturesEdit

 
Cassell signing a poster for a fan at the i63 Insomnia Gaming Festival

Cassell co-founded the clothing company Syndicate Original.[52] The business was operated by his sister and his mother,[10] and was inspired from a trip to the US in 2011.[15] Cassell was given the role as a judge at the British Academy Games Awards.[14][3] and was featured in the mobile game Zombie Killer Squad.[15][12] Released in November 2013, it was the first mobile game developed by 3BlackDot's game development branch.[53][29][27] Within nine days of release, the game had accumulated 1 million downloads and saw 2.6 million by July 2014. Stepleton interpreted that the success of the game was prominently supported by fans of Cassell, as they "put zero promotional dollars behind traditional user acquisition".[28] Cassell was similarly featured in the mobile game Marvel Avengers Academy as the voice of Loki and in the feature-length documentary film Minecraft: Into the Nether.[20][54]

Cassell was a guest star for the premeire of the Call of Duty: Black Ops III zombies map Shadows of Evil at San Diego Comic-Con 2015.[55] He had raised ₤75,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in two weeks,[10] and created the gaming fundraiser "GameStars" for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where he supported critically ill children through gaming events at the Science and Industry Museum.[52][56] In May 2016, he produced the compilation album Sounds of Syndication through record label Heard Well. The album comprises 12 tracks of various artists of his interest, including a song from electronic trio Klaypex and "Neopolitan Dreams" from singer-songwriter Lisa Mitchell.[35][57] He initally contacted the record label at a charity event, and was broad about his choice of music.[50]

Personal lifeEdit

Cassell owns a home constructed and designed by him and his father. He successfully became a homeowner at the age of 19, and quoted that he prefers to be near his hometown. Inspiration for the purchase came from his fascination with the British television series Grand Designs, and explained that he reconstructed the home in favor of creating a more gaming-like space.[3] BBC North West Tonight called his residence a "₤1 million house",[10] and Eurogamer reported that fans have gained synthesis from their findings through Cassell's college route and Google Street View to trace his place of residence. Cassell dated Kaitlin Witcher in 2012,[14][8] and maintained privacy for his personal relationships, as he had separated the ones that interfered with his popularity. He was concerned that his friends would take advantage of his presence and earn revenue off of collaboration videos with him.[3]

Sexual assault allegationsEdit

In June 2020, Kaitlin Witcher (Cassell's ex-girlfriend) and Natalie Casanova made allegations of sexual assault against Cassell in part of the #MeToo movement.[58] Casanova stated that the incident took place at a Legends of Gaming convention at Los Angeles in 2016, in which her and Cassell both participated in and where one of Cassell's staff members brought her a morning-after pill the following day. Witcher said that she was abused at a hotel in same city in 2012. Cassell responded, where he attributed the situation as "character assassination by social media". He argued that the sex was consensual, and that Casanova had agreed to take the pill. Regarding Wither's statement, Cassell had respected his relationship with her, as he felt empathetic during that time.[8][59]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Awards and nominations received by Tom Cassell
Award Year Category Result Ref.
BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards 2014 Best British Vlogger Nominated [60]
Forbes 2017 Top Influencers: Gaming Won [61][62]
Golden Joystick Awards 2012 YouTube Gamer Nominated [3]
Guinness World Records 2014 First person to reach one million followers on Twitch Won [31][63][64]
2015 Most goals scored in a game of Rocket League by a team of 2 Won [65][66][b]
2016 Highest score in offline Team Deathmatch using only the knife and combat axe on Call of Duty: Black Ops III (team of two) Won [67][c]
Most followed Twitch channel Won [68][64]
Shorty Awards 2017 Gaming Nominated [20][69]
SXSW Gaming Awards 2015 Most Valuable Online Channel Nominated [70][71]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Cassell did not receive his Diamond Creator Award until 2021.[5]
  2. ^ Shared with Daniel Middleton
  3. ^ Shared with Alastair Aiken

ReferencesEdit

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