Esports viewership breakdown with Esports Charts: January 2021

Every month ESI, in collaboration with Esports Charts, will delve into the world of esports viewership to highlight what audiences are currently watching, along with other emerging trends in the industry. January’s figures highlight the continued development of mobile esports, meanwhile, League of Legends’ premier leagues make an eagerly anticipated return.

M2 World Championship 2021
Credit: Moonton

Bang Bang breaks mobile esport records

The rise of mobile esports continues to be highlighted with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’s M2 World Championship named the most popular esports tournament in January, according to Esports Charts.

The M2 World Championship garnered a peak concurrent viewership of over 2.81m, making the tournament the third-most-watched esports event ever, behind only the two most recent League of Legends World Championships Finals. 

Photo credit: Esports Charts

What is even more impressive is the title’s English-language viewership for the competition. Despite many heralding mobile esports’ success with its prominence in countries such as India, the M2 World Championship also recorded a peak English-language viewership of 248,022. This out the competition fourth in January, behind the BLAST Premier Global Finals (340,041), League of Legends’ LCS Lock In (344,567) and LEC (361,625).

League of Legends returns to the top five

Speaking of League of Legends, January saw most of the title’s premier competitions commence their Spring Splits, apart from the LCS which launched the Lock-In tournament. In the end, it was the LCK which came out victorious last month as the competition garnered a peak viewership of 802,668 during its clash between DAMWON KIA and T1, which puts the title third in Esports Charts’ viewership table for January. 

Photo credit: Esports Charts

LEC was the second-most popular League of Legends competition in January, in terms of peak viewership, reaching 574,366. Meanwhile, the LFL, a French League of Legends regional competition saw an incredible rise in viewers, garnering a peak viewership of 187,094 during Solary vs Karmine. In fact, the top five most viewed matches in the LFL have all surpassed 110,000 viewers.

To put that figure into perspective, the LFL recorded a higher peak viewership than the Call Of Duty League 2021 Kickoff Classic (107,186) and the 2021 Smite World Championships (98,147).

PUBG Mobile continues impressive growth

PUBG Mobile
Photo credit: Aksiz

PUBG Mobile’s Global Championship Season 0 also showcased the popularity of mobile esports with a peak viewership of over 1.4m for Round 24 of the competition. According to Esports Charts, the viewership figure would actually total 3.4m if NimoTV statistics were taken into account. These numbers were omitted though as the live-streaming platform counts viewers from the game’s client.

PUBG Mobile continues to strengthen and develop its esports structure with the Global Championship featuring a $1.2m prize pool, whilst also securing partnerships with the likes of Qualcomm, Mountain Dew and OnePlus. The title’s rise in viewership is a great sign for its esports scene, especially following the game’s ban in India last year.

Other notable mobile esports viewership figures include Arena of Valors RoV Pro League 2021 Summer, which commenced on January 30th recording a peak viewership of 91,115 during its opening weekend. Moreover, Liga Brasileira de Free Fire 2021 Series A Stage Round 1 peaked at 449,565 viewers. This is even more impressive considering the competition only has a Portuguese language broadcast.

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BLAST Premier creates history

Despite the growth of mobile esports and the return of League of Legends making the headlines in January, another major story was that the BLAST Premier Global Final 2020 became the most-viewed online CS:GO event ever. The tournament’s clash between NAVI and Team Vitality recorded a peak viewership of 687,691, placing BLAST Premier fourth in January’s table.

BLAST’s previous CS:GO global event, which was titled the BLAST Pro Series Global Finals in December 2019, garnered a peak viewership of 177,496. Both statistics highlight the development of BLAST since launching BLAST Premier, despite the constraints of the pandemic hindering offline capabilities.

Photo credit: Esports Charts

According to Esports Charts, BLAST Premier’s popularity was dominated by three languages throughout the Global Finals. The competition’s English language peak viewership, at one point, amounted to 340,041. Meanwhile, the competition also saw high numbers in Russian-language and Portuguese-language broadcasts, generating a peak viewership of 235,996 and 218,025 respectively.

How successful was January 2021 for esports viewership?

Much like December last year, mobile esports once again reigned supreme despite the launch of League of Legends’ competitive season and BLAST Premier’s Global Final. In comparison to January 2020, Garena Free Fire’s Copa América 2020 topped the viewership charts that month with a peak viewership of 896,905, meanwhile, BLAST Premier Spring 2020 saw 226,536 watch Team Liquid vs MIBR.

In February it’s time for PUBG’s original variant to showcase its viewership numbers with the PUBG Global Invitational.S 2021 well underway. This month also sees the continuation of Liga Brasileira de Free Fire 2021 Series A Stage 1 and a whole host of League of Legends competitions. Will League of Legends top February’s viewership? Or can mobile esports continue its dominance despite other titles entering the equation? Only time will tell.

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