The esports games scene is flourishing worldwide. Several sports clubs are founding their teams that compete against each other in tournaments and various disciplines. The most popular ones are sports simulations, first-person shooters, or real-time strategy esports games. The top broadcast platform for large eSports tournaments generated an esports logo, but also for private streamers, is the online streaming service Twitch which has esports awards. These broadcasts live gameplay worldwide with the most popular games on Twitch.
The coronavirus pandemic and global lockdown have solemnly changed the esports games and ecosystem. Many tournaments were canceled and moved online, and in some disciplines, the cancellation of international championships led to the team's dissolve. At the same time, people now have more free time for their preferred games, so many esports titles have won out in terms of viewership statistics.
Garena Free Fire
The rating of the utmost popular esports disciplines is opened by Garena Free Fire, which has grown by 246% over a year which is watched 132.2M hours. The success of the discipline on streaming services is because the publisher is actively launching new regional leagues which attract new players and viewers. Garena company changed the Free Fire esports ecosystem in 2020. Before that, the publisher put more emphasis on the international championships of the World Series among teams from Southeast Asia to Latin America. Now the company is focused on producing scenes in certain regions with Continental Series format.
The Free Fire Continental Series is split into three large regions (Asia, America, and EMEA), which are split into smaller regional leagues: and their number kept on growing in 2020. Asia turned out to be the top popular region of the game in 2020, and this even though earlier Latin America held the undisputed lead.
Continental Series 2020 Asia became the popular tournament of the year in Garena Free Fire. The championship attracted spectators more than 2.5M at peak. In addition, the discipline was influenced by the fact that its main competitor PUBG Mobile was banned in India: countries' esports athletes and viewers switched to the new game, and the Hindi-language broadcast of the tournament captivated more than a million viewers which is a record for India.
Brazilian streamers are also vigorously promoting the game on streaming services. In 2020, Twitch signed the elements of the LOUD organization, which is called the "Brazilian FaZe". And although this favors the growth of esports indicators to a lesser extent, the overall recognition of the game is increasing.
Mobile PUBG is more popular than its PC counterpart. But it is unlikely that many understand the scale: PUBG Mobile gained four times more hours watched than PUBG in 2020: it’s the most popular esports game with 134.5M hours watched. merely like its main competitor, PUBG Mobile puts special stress on the development of regional leagues: and it pays off. One of the most popular tournaments of the game is PUBG Mobile Club Open series, which happens in more than ten regions, and the PUBG Mobile Pro League.
Contrary to other disciplines, PUBG Mobile develops in the Middle East with tournaments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE. However, Asia remains the main important region of the game: the main tournament of the discipline last year was PUBG Mobile World League 2020 East with viewers to 1.15 million at peak.
It is not yet see-through how the game’s ban in India will affect the discipline in the long term, as it has always been the important region of PUBG Mobile. On the one hand, publishers assert that doesn’t affect the total number of PMCO participants, but it’s still not known how will the viewership statistics change at the end of 2021.
Dota 2 retained third place in the ranking among esports, although it hit harder by the coronavirus than any other game. It's all because of the ecosystem of the game, which has always been built around international championships. Due to logistical issues, Valve cancelled all the majors and minors, and essentially The International. As a result, the game’s hours watched fell by 11% and amounted to 253.3M.
Discipline was forced to switch to a regional local format, which revealed many problems. For example, it has become hard for teams from South America to develop as the regional scene is of little interest to a large range of viewers, and it was also impossible for them to fight with North American teams due to high ping. Some players also mentioned taking a break from competitions or even retired after they found out that there won’t be a TI in 2021.
Many Russian-speaking viewers, who actively follow CIS, and other regions, helped the game to maintain its 3rd position ranking. In addition, tournament driver from the CIS organized EPIC League Season 2 Division 1 and OMEGA League: Europe Immortal Division: these are 2 out of 3 tier-1 tournaments of the game that were held in Dota 2 after lockdown.
Dota Pro Circuit system came back in 2021, but its format has greatly changed. The number of Majors was decreased to two; minors and regional qualifiers were restored by regional leagues, which are not very popular among viewers. But The International will still happen in 2021, which means that players can expect higher viewership numbers from Dota 2 in the current year.
Just like in Dota 2, CS: GO esports scene is majorly built around various international events, so the game also started facing issues after the outbreak of the pandemic. In addition, Valorant is now asserting serious competition on Valve’s game: many American and some European esports athletes are switching games.
The game grew by almost 25% in hours watched and amounted to 354.2M all over 2020. This is because CS: GO is less bound to the majors (which were also canceled). All the top championships of the discipline were still taking place, albeit in an online format.
In addition, the Counter-Strike scene has better modified to the current state of esports as all the biggest American esports organizations shifted their rosters to Europe, where all the biggest tournaments are happening right now. The events remained international, which shows the high numbers of viewership statistics for the discipline.
The influence of Brazilian fans on discipline numbers should also be noted. In 2020, the most popular Brazilian content creator Gaules regularly got together with tournament operators and organized Portuguese-language broadcasts, which attracted several new viewers.
League of Legends
League of Legends is still the most popular esports game in the world. The game also had hard times during the lockdown in 2020 and 2021, but Riot Games handled the problem well. In total, League of Legends gained 580.8M hours watched in the year (an increase by 21%).
The system of regional leagues has been strongly functioning for a long time in League of Legends, and even when tournaments were imposed to move online and it didn't greatly affect viewership statistics. In addition, the discipline hardly was damaged by the cancellation of the Mid-Season Invitational, where the world's main clubs gather after spring division.
In 2020, leagues in Europe, South America, and the CIS set current records by viewership statistics. And the major contribution to the success of the game on streaming services is still made by LCS, LEC, and LCK, the non-other region has yet come close to the indicators of Europe, North America, and South Korea.
Riot Games also managed to hold the top tournament of the game on LAN and with spectators. More than 3.8 million spectators watched the World's 2020 finals at peak: an imposing result, which was slightly behind the 2020 finals.
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