The Esports Viewership Breakdown is back! Each month ESI, in collaboration with Esports Charts, delves into esports viewership statistics to decipher what audiences are currently watching.
July 2022 was certainly the month of FPS titles, with both CS:GO and VALORANT among the top five most viewed esports events. As usual, a mobile esports title has also managed to make its way onto the list. Completing the top five are League of Legends and Apex Legends, meaning that five different titles garnered the most viewers last month.
5. Arena of Valor represents mobile esports’ diversity
Fifth on the list is Tencent-owned mobile MOBA Arena of Valor, with the International Championship 2022 garnering 581,800 peak viewers. In what was a relatively quiet month for mobile esports, due to PUBG Mobile, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Free Fire not having any major events, AoV’s inclusion highlights the growing diversity within the mobile scene.
In particular, AoV was widely popular amongst Vietnamese audiences. According to Esports Charts, there was a Vietnamese peak audience of 467,480 watching the international event. This is significantly higher than the ~140,000 that was recorded during VCS Summer 2022, Vietnam’s League of Legends series.
4. Apex Legends continues to impress
Throughout the year Apex Legends has seen continuous viewership growth, with the ALGS: 2022 Championship becoming a crowning moment for the title. The international event became the second most popular Apex Legends tournament, recording a peak viewership of ~632,300 and an average viewership of ~289,700 over its 39-hour runtime. The only other Apex event that was more popular, surprisingly, was the ALGS: 2022 Split 2 Playoffs in May.
On Twitch the official Apex Legends esports channel recorded the second highest English-speaking viewership in July, with ESL’s CS:GO channel taking the top spot for IEM Cologne. Finally, the title recorded over 11m hours watched by viewers in total.
The continued development of the Apex Legends Global Series is a testament to the esports scene’s growing popularity. Since being founded in 2019, the title has overseen competitive growth. In total, three out of the five most popular Apex Legends events have come from the 2022 AGLS season.
3. LCK retains its place in the top five
Traditionally, the LCK is a staple for League of Legends esports due to its consistent viewership and competitive legacy. As such, it’s no surprise to see the league be ranked on the list despite its season still going on.
It’s hard to analyse whether the league’s peak viewership of 681,434 this month is a sign of growth when you compare it to other seasons, since this edition is still ongoing. However, there is cause for optimism this year for the LCK when you look back at Esports Insider’s viewership breakdown in July 2021. Compared to the same month last year, the league has increased its peak viewership by over 100,000. In both editions, T1 features in the most viewed match-up.
There are a multitude of factors, outside of growth, that could have played their part in the increase. One major factor could be the strength of competition. Nevertheless, considering LCK Spring 2022 was the most popular LCK season, according to Esports Charts, there is cause for optimism given these figures.
Across the other leagues, however, there is perhaps less optimism. Both the LCS and LEC have endured viewership declines this year following less-than-ideal Spring Splits. From a viewership standpoint, the LEC has an average viewership of ~172,000 meanwhile the LCS has recorded average figures of ~80,700. Whilst viewership will undoubtedly increase as both leagues enter the playoffs, it seems unlikely that the statistics will match average viewership figures of ~300,000 and ~201,000 (set during LEC Summer 2020 and LCS Spring 2019).
2. VALORANT struggles to maintain international momentum
Placing second was VALORANT’s latest international event, VCT 2022 Stage 2 Masters Copenhagen. Whilst second isn’t disappointing, it’s important to note that this is the lowest global VCT event in the series’ short history. Recording a peak viewership of 783,985 and an average viewership of ~317,600, the event falls significantly short of VCT 2022 Stage 1 Masters Reykjavík (which garnered figures of 1.06m and ~416,000, respectively).
The decrease in viewership could be due to the absence of a Brazilian or North American presence within the finals — two of the scene’s most popular regions. Reykjavík saw OpTic defeat LOUD, whereas Copenhagen featured SEA organisation Paper Rex facing off against FPX, a Chinese organisation that has an EMEA VALORANT roster.
It’s certainly too early to tell whether these numbers are a sign of the scene’s projection. With VCT Champions on the horizon, it’ll be interesting to see whether this is just a blip in VCT’s otherwise-impressive momentum. For future reference, VCT Champions 2021 was unexpectedly the most viewed VALORANT esports event, recording a peak viewership of ~1.09m.
1. IEM Cologne makes history
Topping Esports Charts’ viewership list (excluding Chinese figures) is CS:GO’s IEM Cologne, with the event recording a peak viewership of 1.24m.
The event’s popularity is history-making as IEM Cologne’s final clash between NAVI and FaZe Clan became the most-watched non-Major CS:GO series in history. The previous record was held at IEM Katowice 2022, which took place in February. It’s certainly been a great year for non-Major CS:GO events.
There were a few factors at play that made the finals so popular. Notably, finalists FaZe and NAVI had the highest average viewerships throughout the entire event (recording figures of 403,000 and 440,000, respectively). The event was also the last significant tournament before the summer player break. Finally, despite not being a Major, IEM Cologne has long been a coveted event in the CS:GO calendar.
IEM Cologne 2022’s popularity also resulted in the event becoming the fifth most viewed CS:GO event of all time.
What to look forward to in August?
All eyes will be on Riot Games’ League of Legends regional leagues and whether they can replicate similar viewership success from previous years — particularly the LCK. Moreover, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’s Indonesian league is set to commence. The mobile title is certainly one to watch from a viewership standpoint due to last season garnering an audience of over 2m.
Other noteworthy events include VALORANT’s last chance qualifiers, with the North American event performing particularly well as of this writing. Finally, only time will tell where Dota 2’s PGL Major Arlington will place on viewership lists.