If you haven’t been paying attention, eSports are quickly becoming one of the most popular sporting events in the world. Billions are pouring in, dedicated eSports arenas are opening up left, right and centre, you can place bets on events much like you would on games at a casino, and millions of spectators are tuning in for the biggest matches. Some are even predicting that eSports will surpass some of the bigger traditional sports in a few years.
But which are the eSports that are getting the most attention, and drawing in the most viewers? In that regard, it is common practice for analysts to compare eSports viewership to that of the Super Bowl. But that is a grossly unfair comparison, given the scale of the Super Bowl. It is rather more accurate to specifically look at an event and put it into the proper context.
eSports Charts recently took a closer look at some of the major eSports events of 2019 in order to properly understand how the industry is progressing. Keep in mind however the following statistics have excluded Chinese platforms, so they are only a part of the big picture.
One of the most interesting statistics is considering the sheer number of hours watched. Though, this in itself is a tricky statistic to put in the right context. The winner by far was the League of Legends Championship, an event that absolutely dominated 2019. But the key here is that the event ran for nearly a month and a half, and took place in three different countries. The lengthily matches unfolded in Paris, Madrid and Berlin, with each game going on for considerably longer than some other eSports. All in all, however, the League of Legends Championship had roughly 137 million hours watched.
The next most watched even was the Dota 2 International, with a considerably less 88 million hours. But, again worth noting is that Dota 2 has lengthily matches that tend to draw on for far longer than other popular games.
Changing the angle from the most watched hours to average viewership quickly demonstrates how important it is to take separate factors into account. League of Legends and Dota 2 fall back in the listings, though still didn’t do badly with average viewership of 1 million and 726,000 respectively.
But now a newer, but far more globally embraced event quickly takes centre stage. Yes, it’s Fortnite. The Fortnite World Cup managed to maintain an impressive average viewership of 1.1 million, which although not miles ahead of League of Legends certainly does enough to be crowned the king by far. Important to note though is that the average Fortnite match is also far shorter than the average League of Legends match.
The playing field is again separated drastically by taking into account peak viewership. League of Legends once again surges ahead of the competition, managing to peak at an impressive 3.9 million viewers. This peak is likely due to a host of interested parties tuning in to witness the crowning moment of the final matches.
Next up is, of course, the Fortnite World Cup Finals, which managed a peak of 2.3 million. Far behind League of Legends, but certainly nothing to be taken lightly. Though predictions already suggest that Fortnite will quickly be getting ahead of the competition, with player numbers, and global interest in the game, on the rise daily.
It is clear that getting a proper understanding of which eSports are really drawing in the numbers depends vastly on which angle you choose to understand it. But, with that being said, the numbers clearly indicate that League of Legends is still the game of choice for most fans. Dota 2, which was once the biggest game by far, is dwindling in popularity, and it probably won’t be long before it is fading into the past.
As is clear from the above, Fortnite has exploded onto the scene, and is quickly becoming the major draw card of the industry. There is almost no question that it will make a bigger showing in 2020, especially given that new tournaments are already being added to the roster. Either way, eSports as a whole is quickly picking up momentum, and although it isn’t necessarily fair to put it in the same category as the Super Bowl just yet, it might not be long before a direct comparison can be made.