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The battle of Four: who is the best?

Posted Dec 20, 2019

We are in the second half of the year, and the most important competitions of the season have already ended. This means that it is the time to summarize the first results. We've decided to start with the battle of the titular championships of the main esports disciplines: League of Legends, Dota 2, CS: GO and Fortnite.

We will compare Worlds for LoL, The International for Dota 2, IEM Katowice Major 2019 for CS:GO and World Cup for Fortnite. These tournaments were taken as the most popular competitions of the industry. Due to this reason, the article features the Polish Major instead of StarLadder Major Berlin 2019. Therefore, we do not consider the disciplines and their representatives such as the Overwatch League or the PUBG Global Championship. It should be added that data from Chinese platforms is not included in the results.


Worlds peak viewers exceeds the result of Katowice Major by 230%

Comparing these four events, we can observe two interesting points. In terms of peak broadcast viewers mark, LoL Worlds 2019 became the top event of the year. The League of Legends competition has a lot more viewers than its closest competitor, Fortnite World Cup.

The increase as compared to the second spot in the ranking is equal to 70%. The Worlds for LoL overtakes its main opponent in the face of The International by more than twice. CS:GO had no chance at all, since the World Championship has attracted 230% more viewers.

We should note that the industry's newcomer in the face of Fortnite has nearly reached the first spot across all esports in just a couple of years. During this season, it was able to overtake the main "traditional" disciplines, but did not achieve a total victory.


Fortnite World Cup - the most popular event by the average viewers

The average viewers indicator slightly changes the situation. In this case, the Fortnite World Cup goes straight to the top spot. Helping this was the tournament's finale which stretched over the course of several days.

Such state of affairs in terms of average viewers can be explained by the formats of tournaments. In the case of LoL Worlds, The International and IEM Katowice Major, we have long-term events which are several weeks long. On the other hand, the World Cup took only a couple of calendar days.

That is why the Epic Games' battle royale has taken a lead for this indicator. When comparing precisely the final stages, the situation will change in favor of the League of Legends.


In the overall standings, Twitch is ranked higher than YouTube

The popularity ranks of the main platforms are not completely clear as of today. Yes, the first spot in the total results for these four events can be safely given to Twitch. However, judging by how YouTube is growing, in the near future the “purple” may face some problems.

At LoL Worlds and the Fortnite World Cup, Google has managed to leave its competitor behind not once but several times. At times, the difference between them reached several hundred thousand viewers. In many ways, such a difference was created by the efforts of the audience from Southeast Asia and Korea.

The Valve's disciplines' events have marked a complete victory of Twitch. In this case, the increase can be attributed to the western audience. Nowadays, fans of these games from the CIS, Europe and America prefer Amazon service.


Whose format was more successful?

Looking at all the results, it can be said that the Fortnite and League of Legends currently have more interesting formats. The battle royale offers the viewer two battle modes at once: single standings and duo battles.

At Gamescom 2017, PUBG developers held tournaments with a similar idea: separate competitions for all modes of their shooter. Judging by the results of that event, such an undertaking brought success, but the hype around PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is also partly to blame.

The parallel broadcasts became a negative factor for The International. During the group stage matches, the events were divided into 4 simultaneous streams. As a result of this, it was difficult to watch all the meetings live, and therefore the majority of viewers had to choose only one match from all the ongoing ones.

Prize pool or support of teams?

In the modern world, a million-dollar prize pool no longer surprises anyone. Some tournaments began to receive much more money: up to 30 million and higher. Meanwhile, the other part of the tournament scene has focused more on supporting the players and organizations.

In our case, we have two events that received a huge prize pool; most of all was received at The International, which was due to crowdfunding: 25% of the sales of the Combat Pass and special treasures were transferred to the prize pool of the championship. As a result, the total amount after the deadline was equal to $34,330,068.

At the Fortnite World Cup, the total prize has amounted to a little more than $30 million, but this amount was divided between two modes. As mentioned earlier, the event held competitions among solos and duos – and had almost 15 million allocated to each of these.

At the other side of the coin are the World Championship and Katowice Major. Both events are very similar when it comes to their awards; both have a team support-based system. In the case of CS:GO, this is achieved through stickers and graffiti, while in League of Legends one's favorite team can be supported through special bundles and summoner icons.

There is only one caveat: unlike its rivals, the majors of Valve's games have player stickers. Thanks to this, a fan can use own money to support not only a team, but also a specific player.

We should add that in the case of Fortnite there are no similar activities. However, Epic Games themselves have a content maker support system. Using a special code, fans also have the opportunity to support their favorite, but only if the favorite in question wishes for this (by informing the public of his/her unique code).


What has affected such results of the championships?

As it can be seen from these three comparisons, today the positions of the World Championship and Fortnite World Cup are excellent. The main tournaments are a huge success, helped by a huge fan base.

Several factors have affected LoL Worlds. In 2018, Korea got terrible results and now they had to be fixed. At the same time, in the West (for the first time in many years) a team that won the Mid-Season Invitational has appeared – in other words, an actual candidate for the cup. China, however, had the goal of retaining the title of the strongest region and bringing the championship to their homeland for the second time.

Of course, SK Telecom T1 became the hottest topic. The team has already climbed to the top three times before, and after the failure in 2018, it finally had a chance to return to this spot one again. Therefore, when SKT and G2 met in the semifinals, it was clear in advance that something incredible was going to happen. And so it happened, at the match for a spot in the finals the industry has received a peak viewers indicator of almost 4 million. For now, it is an absolute record.

But Dota 2 also had certain precursors to such state of affairs given the hype surrounding the participants. At The International, the two teams in the finals each had the world champion's title. This means that for the first time since 2011, the discipline would receive a two-time winner of the titular competition. Moreover, no one believed in OG, but everyone was watching closely when it became the world's best. Nobody has managed to achieve this before, with Natus Vincere coming closest to the OG's result due to their participation in the finals for three years in a row.

IEM Katowice Major had a similar story to tell. In the Polish competition, everyone was watching Astralis and their invincible march through the tournament. The team could once again become the strongest in the world, once having received its third title, thereby becoming the second team in history who became a triple winner of the major – a feat which was only obtained by Fnatic.

On the other hand, the dark horse ENCE amazed everyone with its performance. The team not only went to the Legends Stage, but also managed to get to the finals by defeating more than one strong team on its way. As a result of this, the final duel of Katowice Major has attracted a lot of attention.

Fortnite has a huge list of participants, and a significant part of it consists of famous players who have their own channels. Their fans could not miss the battle for the huge prize pool and the title of the world's best. All of this, along with a pleasant 3-day schedule has attracted a good share of viewers.

It should be noted that the prize pool worked in favor of the Fortnite World Cup. Not just any discipline of the season is capable of allocating $100 million. In this case, we have a situation that's slightly similar to The International.

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