| Author Malik Shelp
The Rising Esports Viewership: Most Watched Esports of 2020
This has been the year for esports to excel and push beyond traditional sports.
Viewership of Esports competitions has exponentially increased over the year given the cancelation of so many traditional sports events. Organizations have invested billions in teams across numerous esports, and recently numbers have skyrocketed.
It is hard to pin down a single metric that makes an esport a success. There are many factors to take into account including average viewership, hours watched, and peak viewership. In these three categories, the League of Legends World Championship reigns supreme. League of Legends is one of the largest games in the world right now, and arguably the largest esport. It held the spot as the most hours watched event by a long shot, primarily thanks to its multi-day format. It was followed in close second by Dota’s The International, raking in 88 million hours watched. The International has just surpassed $34 million to become the largest esports prize pool to date.
Hype followed up by consistency is a crucial key to so many games and esports’ success in the modern era. One game that has perfected this formula is Fortnite, from Epic Games. The title has constant updates and hosts hundreds of online competitions across the world. The Fortnite World Cup had a peak viewership at 2.3 million viewers and averaged out at around 1.2 million viewers. This is more than the League of Legends World Championship and Dota’s The International. These two titles are still a dominant force in the esports world, but one that no one thought could be toppled.
The world of esports is constantly changing with developers creating and adjusting games to fit their audience. League of Legends’ esports scene has been built from the ground up by Riot to create a legacy. While the multi-day Championship may bolster its numbers, its popularity is undeniable. On that same note, Fortnite saw a tremendous boom in popularity again at the end of 2019 and has carried the momentum into 2020.
Newer esports struggle currently for viewership, but Fortnite and LoL’s success didn't happen overnight. Valorant has quickly amassed major numbers on Twitch during both its tournaments and average stream time. Many of the players coming to the new title are from CS: GO, and could prove to take a significant chunk of its viewership with them. Traditional sports were placed on a hiatus during the first half of 2020, and it is worth noting that F1 and Racing-based esports saw a major boost in numbers to compensate for the loss of events.
In 2018, Dota and League of Legends still held the top spots for most hours watched. Even in years prior, these two games, and Counter-Strike, were the dominant titles for competitive scenes. Since then, esports has evolved ever so slightly, gaining more mainstream appeal, and competitions. Call of Duty, Overwatch, Fortnite, and Valorant are among a few of the games to develop successful esports scenes so far in 2020. As these competitions grow and the competitive scenes take form, the new wave of viewers will influence what esports takes the cake in this upcoming decade.