Each month Esports Insider, in collaboration with Esports Charts, delves into esports viewership statistics to decipher what audiences are currently watching.
September saw one of esports’ biggest events — the League of Legends World Championship — officially kick-off, while VALORANT’s 2022 season came to an epic conclusion. There was also a continued presence created by the mobile esports scene.
Last month’s viewership battle can be simplified to Riot Games vs Moonton. Those two developers were responsible for the esports tournaments that received all five of the most viewed events in September.
League of Legends is ramping up
Last month, two League of Legends events made their way into the top five most popular esports events list. The 2022 LEC Summer Split garnered 732,573 peak viewers (fourth place in September) as Rogue took down G2 Esports to be crowned European Champions.
A couple of weeks later, League of Legends’ 2022 World Championship commenced its play-ins. The most viewed match-up during the event’s brief September run featured two different Western teams, Europe’s Fantic and North America’s Evil Geniuses.
Taking place on the first day of play-ins, the clash garnered 1.12m peak viewers — narrowly failing to beat the Worlds day one record. That figure remains at 1.3m viewers garnered during Worlds 2021.
Despite these events being featured on the list, the two League of Legends tournaments tell very different stories: one of optimism and one of concern.
Starting with the positives, League of Legends’ initial World’s viewership is incredibly commendable. Plus, it’s almost guaranteed that the figure will ultimately surpass this figure by a significant amount given how early it is in the event. The question is though, will it beat its overall peak viewership record of 4m, which was again achieved by Worlds 2021. Given how close the opening figures are, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.
On the other hand, LEC’s Summer viewership failed to reach the same heights that it did during the pandemic. Obviously, there are a lot of factors in play. Interest in esports was at an all-time high given the absence of traditional sports, plus people spent more time at home due to government restrictions. So it was unlikely that the LEC would beat its 2020 viewership record of 1m. But, the tournament also failed to beat LEC Summer 2019’s figure of 841,147 — an over 100,000 peak viewership drop when comparing it to Summer 2022.
It’s certainly not time to hit panic mode, but the trajectory of the LEC viewership is trending down. Perhaps with the introduction of popular Spanish organisations KOI and Team Heretics, as well as the potential inclusion of Karmine Corp, LEC’s viewership may be rejuvenated next season.
Mobile Legends continues to highlight its SEA dominance
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) esports is well underway, with both MPL Indonesia and MPL Philippines showcasing that viewership doesn’t always have to come from continental or international events.
Rounding out Esports Charts’ top five most popular esports events of September is MLBB’s Filipino regional league, garnering 496,596 viewers. Commencing its tenth season in late August, the competition is set to conclude earlier this month. As of right now, the competition is currently the fifth most viewed MPL Philippines season. Similar to the LEC, it seems that the competition may struggle to reach the heights of its 1.4m peak viewership record, which occurred in Season 7 (2021).
According to average concurrent viewership, Season 10 is currently setting a similar pace to Season 6, which was MPL Philippines’ second most popular event (132,893 in Season 6, 130,360 so far in Season 10).
Despite not reaching the same viewership heights in August, MPL Indonesia Season 10 has managed to finish second on Esports Charts’ September chart, garnering 1.37m viewers. Currently sitting fourth place in terms of most viewed MPL Indonesia seasons, the tournament has already recorded more hours watched than third place’s Season 7 despite its shorter runtime. The competition’s relatively high English-speaking viewership (310,983) may also be surprising to much of the Western world.
Interestingly, for the second month in a row, MPL Indonesia’s RRQ Hoshi was featured in the most viewed match-up, highlighting the popularity of the Southeast Asian powerhouse.
VALORANT Champions makes a statement
Topping off Esports Charts’ viewership chart for September was VALORANT Champions 2022, which garnered its highest-ever esports viewership. Recording just over 1.5m, the tournament’s viewership is a sign of optimism for the title’s developing ecosystem. The event follows on from disappointing viewership statistics recorded at VCT Masters Copenhagen, thus putting worries of an early VALORANT downtrend to rest for now.
In terms of hours watched, the most viewed team at the event was OpTic Gaming. The North American team racked up over 19m hours of viewership, nearly 4m more than second place LOUD. As you’d expect, the Grand Final between LOUD and OpTic recorded the highest viewership record.
What’s perhaps the most positive outlook is the trajectory of the esports scene from a viewership perspective. In just over a year, the tournament went from 1.08m viewers at VALORANT Champions 2021 to over 1.5m viewers the following year.
Breaking down the peak viewership statistics also highlights how diverse the competition’s audience is. English-speaking platforms were the most popular at the event, garnering a peak viewership of 644,092. However, there were notable audience figures recorded from Portuguese (452,282), Japanese (325,379) and Spanish (112,988) platforms as well. The future does look bright for VALORANT, as long as its new hybrid-franchise model continues to attract fans.
What to look forward to in October?
The two viewership goliaths — the League of Legends World Championship and MPL Indonesia — are certainly the events to keep an eye on. Both events will be looking to blast past their previous viewership records, however, the inevitability of that is not certain. There will also be the looming presence of Dota 2’s The International 11, which commences this month.
Outside of the MOBA space, the first day of IEM’s Riot Major is set to commence on October 31st, so there may be a glimpse of the initial interest in the CS:GO event, though we’ll see more of this in next month’s report. Moreover, VALORANT’s ‘off-season’ events might raise some intrigue, especially with some of the tournaments reinventing formats and integrating streamers.