ESL Pro League Season 18 is the third most-watched edition to date

02 October 2023

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Image credit: ESL

The 18th season of the ESL Pro League, one of Counter-Strike’s longest-lasting Counter-Strike leagues, recorded an improvement in viewership over its last several seasons.

The recently-concluded event is the third most-watched edition of the Pro League, according to esports data platform Esports Charts, with 567,000 peak viewers. The event took place in Malta and had a $850,000 (~£700,000) prize pool.

ESI Lisbon 2024

The latest season recorded improved numbers in several relevant metrics when compared to previous editions. Accorss its 244 hours of air time, the ESL Pro League had around 28m hours watched. However, while the number of peak viewers has increased, average viewership has declined to 114,000, compared to 161,000 and 138,000 for seasons 16 and 17.

There are several factors that helped the increase of peak viewers for the event. MOUZ and NAVI were the two most popular teams in terms of viewers, helping drive the key metric forward. The match between the two teams in the Grand Final was the most-watched of the season. It was also the first win in a large LAN tournament for the German organisation since 2019 when MOUZ won ESL Pro League Season 10.

The second contributing factor to the improved numbers is the fact that this was the last-ever edition of the ESL Pro League featuring CS:GO. With Counter-Strike 2 releasing in late September, all following editions of the ESL Pro League will feature the new game, effectively retiring CS:GO from ESL events.

Interestingly, the only two ESL Pro League events that saw more viewers tune in. Season 12, with just around 1,000 more peak viewers more, and Season 14, which saw more than 750,000 viewers tune in. Interestingly, the top three most-watched ESL Pro League finals all featured the Ukrainian esports organisation NAVI.

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.