Worlds and PGL Major Stockholm finals break esports viewership records

by Brian Bencomo

The weekend of Nov. 5-7 was a record-breaking weekend for multiple esports. The grand finals of the League of Legends World Championship and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s PGL Major Stockholm took place, and both esports set record-high viewership peaks. Here’s a closer look behind the record numbers for each game this weekend.

Note: All numbers are courtesy of Esports Charts or its subsidiary Streams Charts.

Worlds breaks 4 million viewers mark

League of Legends set a new online viewership record over the weekend. The final of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship between DWG KIA and EDward Gaming reached 4 million viewers at its peak, a new threshold for the most popular esport in the world.

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During the final, the League of Legends category on Twitch reached 3.08 million viewers -- the most ever for League of Legends, and for any category on Twitch.

Viewership for League of Legends’ championship event has skyrocketed in the past three years. The 2016 championship had 1.6 million peak viewers and 2017 and 2018 each topped 2 million. Then, in 2019, viewership jumped to 3.9 million and dropped slightly to 3.8 million last year.

The stats are based not only on people watching on several different Twitch channels but also on YouTube, Facebook, VK Live, AfreecaTV and other platforms. It does not include viewers watching from platforms in China, where League of Legends is popular and Chinese team EDward Gaming was competing in the final. The amount of viewers in China likely makes the total global viewership significantly larger.

With viewership rising throughout the final, part of the reason for the new record is likely due to the final stretching to five games for the first time since 2016. It was a tightly contested final involving the reigning world champions DWG KIA, who were looking to become the second team ever to repeat as champions, and EDward Gaming, who were seeking their first title and the third for a Chinese team in four years. EDward Gaming won 3-2.

PGL Major Stockholm tops 2.5 million viewers

In addition to Worlds reaching a record number of viewers, the PGL Major Stockholm also set a record for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The grand final between Natus Vincere and G2 Esports topped 2.7 million viewers on Sunday. Like the number for Worlds, this does not include viewership on Chinese platforms. The tournament, which was the first CS:GO major in two years, actually set multiple viewership records over the weekend.

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On Friday, the quarterfinal between Na’Vi and Team Vitality reached a peak of 1.37 million viewers, which was a new CS:GO record, topping a record set at the 2017 ELEAGUE major.

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On the same day as the League of Legends Worlds final, the semifinal between G2 and Heroic reached 1.39 million viewers. It was then topped once again by the next semifinal between Na’Vi and Gambit Esports, which had a peak of 1.44 million viewers. Ultimately this record would be shattered on Sunday. With 1.9 million people watching CS:GO on Twitch during the final, it vaulted Counter-Strike into the fifth-highest peak for a single category on Twitch.

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Arcane brings in 1.8 million viewers on Twitch

Here’s a bonus weekend record-breaker. Riot Games’ League of Legends animated series debuted Saturday on Netflix, and on Twitch where it reached a peak of 1.8 million viewers. It’s unknown how many watched on Netflix, but the 1.8 million that watched on Twitch was the fifth-highest peak all time for a single category on Twitch … for less than 24 hours until CS:GO passed it up on Sunday, bumping it down to sixth. Arcane was categorized as its own category on Twitch rather than as League of Legends and Riot Games’ channel on Twitch garnered the most views. For context, the categories with higher peaks than Arcane were League of Legends (which set the record earlier Saturday), Special Events, Just Chatting and Fortnite.

Lead photo credit: PGL

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