What's Copium Mean in Twitch Chat?
By Alex Cabal | updated On Nov 28, 2023, 6:50 PM UTC
League is filled with colorful words and phrases, some originating outside of the game, and others referring to unique mechanics or situations that simply aren’t seen outside of LoL.
In this case, copium was an adopted phrase. In fact, it just celebrated its 20th anniversary (FeelsBirthdayMan)! So how did it survive all this time and find a home on Twitch, and a special place in the hearts of League of Legends fans?
We’re about to tell you. Strap yourself in, you’re about to discover the context that will give copium meaning
The Original Copium Meaning
The first common use of the word copium was by rapper and hip hop artist Keak da Sneak. On June 17th, 2003, he released an album entitled "COPIUM".
The subtitle of the COPIUM’s title track is ‘Counting Other People’s Money’. The initials of that phrase are C.O.P.M. Pronounced ‘copium’. Given the context of the word within the song, this makes some amount of sense.
But that’s not the meaning that eventually resurfaced in the 2020s. Keak da Sneak actually gave us a preview of how the meaning of copium would shift in a 2006 Pitchfork interview. He talked about how he channels his difficulties into inspiration, and uttered his own definition of ‘copium’ in the process:
“You can feel my pain, you can hear me turning my pain into a party.”
A Copium Meaning for the Next Generation
Outside of rap aficionados, the word copium didn’t really start to enter the mainstream until 2019. 4Chan members started to use the concept sporadically, often attached to a Pepe image that was inhaling chemicals from a breathing mask.
The popularity of copium exploded in the leadup to the 2020 US elections, and the immediate aftermath. Trump supporters who thought he was going to win, and then subsequently thought that there were all kinds of legal mechanisms that would turn the results in his favor, were treated to an array of copium images.
Instead of Keak da Sneak’s take on the word, which was the shortening of a phrase that he wanted to popularize, copium reemerged as a portmanteau, or a blended word. It combined the words ‘cope’ and ‘opium’ to imply that someone was taking a fictional drug that would help them to cope with a situation.
The copium meaning at the time was largely the same as what we see today: You have to be high on something as a coping mechanism if you actually believe things are going to fall your way.
The concept rapidly outgrew its original political context, and entered the mainstream a few months after appearing on 4Chan.
When Did Copium Enter the League of Legends Lexicon?
By late 2020, copium was making the rounds on Twitch. It found a home in many communities, and League was one of them.
We asked pro player and popular streamer Jankos when he first remembered seeing ‘copium’ on a regular basis. Jankos often use the phrase Copium himself when describing game states, so he seemed like a good candidate to ask.
He was kind enough to answer us on his stream, as you can see in this clip.
The most relevant quote from his answer is:
“I think I started to use it last year. So maybe I first heard it in 2021.”
That would be the same general experience as most people in the LoL community. That is reflected by the icon’s usage as part of the Better Twitch TV (BTTV) browser addon. The most popular BTTV copium icon was uploaded by t0asteds0up on September 18, 2020. It started to see wide use in early 2021. A version of this emote made its way onto FrankerFaceZ shortly after.
The first League gameplay video that got over 1k views on YouTube with ‘Copium’ in the title was a commentary between LS and Nemesis. That was posted on June 26, 2021. So that fits nicely into our timeline, and matches Jankos’ recollection as well.
In League of Legends, a chorus of ‘copium’ emotes usually follows a streamer being far too positive about the outcome of a play or the state of the game.
For example, if the streamer ints and then points out that it was a good distraction that will allow the rest of their team to accomplish something, expect an influx of copium emotes.
Or if the streamer flips Baron and loses, but their team manages to get a tower cross map, they might focus on the fact that they got bounty gold… resulting in a flood of ‘copium’ from the viewers.
Today’s League of Legends Copium Meaning
These days, copium is used both as a way to make fun of a League streamer’s optimism, as well as an intentional engagement method employed by LoL streamers.
There’s rarely a major LoL stream or an official LoL English language broadcast that doesn’t mention ‘copium’ at least once. You can even pick out the word during the overseas broadcasts when they use it as a loanword.
The popularity of the word is reflected by the popularity of the emote itself. There are dozens of variants of the ‘COPIUM’ emote on BTTV, with the most popular ranking in the top 120 used emotes on the site.
A common streamer tactic is to intentionally make positive statements in clearly losing situations in order to invoke chat’s ‘copium’ reflex (the aforementioned Jankos being one of the biggest trolls under that particular bridge). This kind of ‘copium baiting’ becomes a regular activity on some streams.
The Future of Copium
Copium has a decent chance of becoming a mainstream dictionary word, since it’s fairly popular, and is even being used outside of the context of strictly online activities. Given that copypasta hit the official dictionaries in 2022, anything is possible.
Regardless, expect copium to continue to community-hop on Twitch, and gain even more popularity within the League of Legends streaming community.