It might be the Small VTuber Awards in name, but it was far from that in scale.
The Hidden Gems ceremony, hosted by British VTuber Petrichoral, started as just a small tweet. She just wanted to see how many people were interested in this kind of recognition after three bigger shows hosted by Takahata, Filian, and Ironmouse were revealed close together.
It ended up being a massive affair. More than 6,000 VTubers were nominated for specific awards, shortlisted into an illustrious 95 across 16 categories.
“I did not set out with the goal of making the next Streamer Awards,” she told VTuber NewsDrop. “I had expected my friends and community to get involved and have under 20 or 30 nominations.
“When the first posts initially gained the traction it did and I received over 3,000 nomination forms. It blew me away and I realized how important this recognition would be to so many.”
The best of the best was then crowned in a ceremony on August 12. Hundreds watched it live, with more than 15,000 having tuned into the VOD since.
The awards were distinctly catered towards the wide array of content you see outside of VTubing’s apex. While there were some typical ones like Best YouTube Streaming VTuber (won by Remi Yumeko), as well as genre-specific ones like Best FPS VTuber (claimed by Chitzee), there was also awards pointing towards those Most Likely To Get Twitch Partner This Year (Okuno).
Notably though, there was no “Best VTuber” overall. Instead, the entire show was treated as a celebration for all things VTubing, and the little niches of the community that get overlooked.
The show was mostly a solo effort for her. That was made more difficult by her juggling upcoming redebut prep alongside the now-gargantuan task. She did enlist some friends, namely Theri Dae, to help with graphics and art, but that was it.
“I don't have the funds to pay people to help and I do not feel right taking volunteers on for what was likely to be little to no reward.
“Looking back, I'm relieved I did it solo as I'd feel crushed for anyone else receiving backlash simply for having their name on it.
“That night after the show I knew that the months of hard work, completely on my own, was so, so worth it. And I'd stick by my guns to do this every year.”
Hidden Gems: Small VTuber Awards winners
Winners of each category bolded. Shortlisted nominees follow.
- Best VTuber Design: Pingu, AtlasAnarchy, EchoGummi, Asveeti, Aurora Maquinaria, DevilAYAcchi
- Most Likely To Get Twitch Partner This Year: Okuno, Attera Nox, BlueByteSora, Minimaali, Cassie, Neko Mikki
- The Trendsetter: Autumn Mozilla, Beelzebella, Rainbow Sparkles, Darleeng, VirtuosoLynx
- Best YouTube Streaming VTuber: Remi Yumeko, Sena Bonbon, Hazco Fox, Freya Beragota, Koziichu, StoriesOfStars
- Best VTuber Artist: KAVIIX, Doskii Lee, WolfieTheMedic, Cheriyu, Lyrramori, Roxoah
- Most Chaotic Gremlin: Mother Mae, Flarmji, Dame Rika, Moraxi Astraria, Angelic Hunnii, Ryn
- Best Lewdtuber: Missus Mummy, PoisonIvy, Thorn Gorgon, Lady Mystiq, DEATHBL00MS, Elouyn
- Best VTuber Singer: SuRge, Deadly Desiree, Velcria, Manami Sonata, Kuwanano, Princess Kazooie
- VRChat Superstar: Brookie Cookie, Kathiel, Lupus Arcum, Gandolph Oratore, Kako Ashe, Nekaishi
- Most Unique Content: Elle and Booster, Beepers, AlpineShowTime, Chill Pill, Remi, Maru De Cinco
- Master Collaborator: Calcote Proctor, Glitch Kitten, Otaka Wren, Ratanak45, Azura, aCozyKyriosity
- Most Helpful VTuber: Elara, Syafire, Spvwvky, Mayari Karibal, Kisaooni, Pinkie
- Best FPS VTuber: Chitzee, Arctic Aaliyah, Caiuwus, Ravtek, Rikaome, Sakusa
- Best Soulslike VTuber: Mirabelle, Freemiumdude, Captain Dandyfloss, Corgi Greyhound, Freya Amari, DaphShoo
- Best Speedrunning VTuber: Orangeisborange, DigiTamerRiley, Ahvahh, The Travelling Inquisitor, DelinquentGhost, Penni Lopi
- Best Endurance Run VTuber: Raimi Ricotta, Wakraya Elber, Chifuyu Akashi, Foxkeilsa, Genevieve Yoso, Marze The Saber
The importance of small VTuber recognition
Winning a gong at the Small VTuber Awards isn’t going to be a ticket to stardom. It’s not like taking home a Rising Star prize at The Streamer Awards. But it is a much-deserved accolade for a large corner of the industry that doesn’t garner many eyeballs.
“People took the time out of their day to recognise the talents of their friends and showed their support for them,” Pingu said. “Even those that missed the event are sad they couldn't vote, because they know who they would've picked, and I think that's awesome.
“They have shown me that despite everything, there is a significant amount of people that have at the very least heard of me or have wished for my success,” Mirabelle added.
The medium has come so far, with tens of thousands of virtual creators.
Those at the bottom of the ladder, trying to grind for Twitch or YouTube Partner, or the opportunity to make content creation their full-time job, often have some of the most interesting content ideas out there.
Through the awards, VTubers were able to look at each other’s successes in a positive manner.
“It's good to have events like this that shine positivity,” Pingu said. “Even if it isn't major for the community, the smallest impact can mean a ton to a lot of people, just like these awards did.”
“The indie VTuber scene is home to a lot of incredibly creative, innovative and entertaining content creators,” Mirabelle explained. “Unfortunately, most of them don’t receive the amount of exposure they deserve.
“Even though the term ‘VTuber’ has made a name for itself on social media platforms, most casual VTuber fans tend to stick to big corporate VTubers, such as Hololive or NIJISANJI. I think it is vital for small creators in the indie scene to stick together, support and uplift each other.”
Of course, there would be a slight analytics boost that comes from the awards for each of these creators. Even if Petri doesn’t have a huge reach like QTCinderella and her Streamer Awards, the nominations have been all over Twitter for weeks.
But the meaningful value comes from the connections made during the event. Those nominated in the same categories as each other are now planning collabs or looking to other nominees for content ideas. And even those who didn’t make the shortlist are networking off its back.
Or, more simply, just finding a new VTuber to watch.
“I truly deeply hope that the 95 featured VTubers see some positive growth out of it, that they find new audiences and people are taking the time to check out some of them,” Petri said.
“I've found so many amazing new VTubers and I'd really like to stay connected with the many I've been chatting to and watching recently. I'm so excited to see what they're doing next and get to watch them thrive and grow!”
How further shows can spotlight small VTubers
The success of the first Small VTuber Awards has Petri looking towards 2024, even if she’s taking a backseat from the prep for now. Her redebut is in September, and that comes first.
“It'll be much easier next year,” she stated. “Now I can expect a large response and I already have the assets and set up, I can pretty much copy and paste the new data.
“It was helpful to highlight some more niche communities in VTubing [too], like speedrunners. I'd like to do more of that next year! It can be really hard to find new audiences outside of your niche or community, so maybe this event reaching so many new communities will help?
“Several people have come forward to offer their help and contribute their experience in large event management, for that I am truly appreciative of.”
But it’s not the only award show planned out for the year. As mentioned at the top, Takahata, Filian, and Ironmouse all were planning shows for the second half of 2023.
These will likely focus on the cream of the crop. But that doesn’t mean small VTubers can’t have an impact on the industry’s night of nights.
“Of course, each show is dependent on how it's hosted and the way they'll approach the space,” Pingu said. “Petri was a good example of reaching out to a community that is much larger than initially thought.
“Other award shows will likely focus more on the main or upcoming faces of VTubing. Keeping momentum going in the main community is more dependent on people willing to contribute within it, because when they do, it's very positive and enlightening!”
And with that in mind, Petri has issued a challenge to those organizers.
“I hope this puts pressure on them to highlight smaller creators in the scene and not the same group of large VTubers over and over again. It was the thought of smaller VTubers being excluded from those award shows that spurred this entire project to start with!
“Ironmouse, Takahata and Filian: I'd absolutely love to see you feature some smaller creators and if you need any help with that, I volunteer as tribute.”