IEM Cologne 2022 Final crowned most watched non-Major CS:GO series in history

Image credit: Helena Kristiansson / ESL Gaming

The Final of IEM Cologne 2022 last weekend between FaZe Clan and Natus Vincere recorded the highest number of viewers for a match outside of CS:GO Majors, according to Esports Charts.

The best-of-five series final, which took place on July 17th, recorded 1.25m viewers at its peak, surpassing rival ESL event IEM Katowice 2022 to take the number one spot.

The match was also the fifth most-watched CS:GO match of all time, and IEM Cologne surpassed the IEM Katowice Major of 2019, as well as both the FACEIT Major London 2018 and PGL Major Krakow 2017. The only CS:GO match this year that had more viewers was the final of the PGL Major Antwerp between the same two teams in May.

The IEM Cologne final itself owes its impressive statistic to a couple factors. First is the fact that the two teams, NaVi and FaZe, are the top two teams in the world both with massive fanbases. The second reason is that IEM Cologne has historically been one of the best-known CS:GO tournaments, surpassed by fame in Europe perhaps only by IEM Katowice. The first IEM Cologne was played in the summer of 2014.

In addition, IEM Cologne 2022 is the last large CS:GO tournament before the summer player break, a fact that likely helped tune viewers in. S-tier CS:GO tournaments will return in late August with the BLAST Premier Fall Groups and the ESL Pro League Season 16. Before then, viewers and teams will go on hiatus from top-tier CS:GO.

Moreover, the fact that the IEM Cologne final turned out to go all the way to the fifth map this year, with incredibly close rounds throughout, additionally helped its case. More maps means more airtime and more opportunities for viewers to tune in.

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Lastly, there are the storylines. NaVi was the number one team in the world going into the tournament, but FaZe was arguably the more successful team in 2022, winning the Major, the ESL Pro League and the IEM Katowice before Cologne. NaVi, on the other hand, only grabbed the BLAST Spring Finals in 2022 after winning almost everything in 2021.

The tournament proves CS:GO is still listing impressive numbers in 2022, and that the game is by no means slowing down — a fate some feared following the launch of Riot Games’ rival FPS VALORANT.

Of the five most-watched CS:GO tournaments, three were played in the last two years, an impressive feat considering the pandemic restricted the game to online tournaments.

Ivan Šimić
Ivan comes from Croatia, loves weird simulator games, and is terrible at playing anything else. Spent 5 years writing about tech and esports in Croatia, and is now doing it here.