For the Dota 2 teams, the popularity ranking is a rather simple thing: the one who goes to The International gets more hours watched both in the region and worldwide. But in case of CS:GO the struggle for leadership is much more severe. In this blog entry we will determine the leading CIS-based teams both on the regional and worldwide scale, as well as how this is impacted by the majors and ESL Pro League.
Virtus.pro – the 5th spot (CIS) / 4th spot (worldwide) among the CIS-based clubs
Judging by the CS:GO performance of Virtus.pro, the year 2019 can be described as a failure. The organization has been losing the legendary Polish players one after another (due to them no longer being able to show decent results). Afterwards, it attempted to develop the young talents – but failed at this as well. Despite these shortcomings, the viewers both inside and outside of CIS have never lost hope and continued to spectate the broadcasts of matches featuring Virtus.pro. In the span of one year, the Russian-speaking audience has watched more than 1.1 million hours of streams involving VP's games, with extra 4.4 million hours watched being added by the viewers from other regions.
This trend is further shown by the two LAN tournaments visited by the team in the second half of the season. While the "bears" couldn't reach the finals at the DreamHack Atlanta 2019, they have still managed to become the championship's most viewed team (with the audience spending 131 thousand hours watched on their matches). While VP has stopped at the 7-8th spot at the EPICENTER 2019, their match versus Mouz has still managed to enter the top 5 most watched matches of the tournament for both the Russian-language and the English-language streams. This match has also attracted nearly 66 thousand peak viewers from the CIS.
It is hard to predict how VP will fare in 2020. In December 2019, the organization has contracted a roster of the AVANGAR club representatives, the latter being one of the most successful and popular clubs in the CIS. But that's not to say the team was as successful at the beginning of the calendar year.
Winstrike – the 4th spot (CIS)
Winstrike is a good example of a team that's already popular in the CIS but is yet to establish its international presence – at least as to gather enough viewers on its streams. Over the course of 2019, the Russian-speaking viewers have watched more that 1.5 million hours of broadcasts featuring the matches of Winstrike, allowing the latter to overtake the already-collapsing Polish roster of VP. But at the worldwide scale Winstrike didn't even manage to get in the top 5 most viewed teams of its region.
The low levels of its international popularity should be mainly attributed to the team's lack of experience when it comes to handling the LAN tournaments. Starting the year with a disappointing performance at the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice Major 2019, the team's only other real spotlight was the DreamHack Summer 2019 (and even that one was watched by less that 50 thousand peak viewers). But in the CIS, Winstrike has managed to attract the attention of the audience with the popular and charismatic players on its roster: with Boombl4 being part of the team at the beginning of the season, only to be replaced by Edward from Natus Vincere. Still, now the team has to find some other methods of catching up with its rivals.
forZe – the 3rd spot (CIS) / 5th spot (worldwide) among the CIS-based clubs
forZe is the real example of achieving both the statistical and tournament-based results through stability. In 2019, the viewers have watched nearly 2 million hours of Russian-language broadcasts of matches featuring forZe, and this figure is further increased to 5.3 million hours when counting the international audience as well.
From the standpoint of viewer interest, forZe has shown its best at the BLAST Pro Series Moscow 2019. The feat of earning the second spot at this tournament has brought the team 960 thousand hours watched worldwide. Meanwhile, their match versus NAVI became the third most popular one among the Russian-speaking audience, being watched by more than 61 thousand peak viewers. But the success of forZe was ensured not as much by the peak performance as by the team's stable, regular participation in the final stages of multiple championships – ranging from WePlay! Forge of Masters Season 2 to the EPICENTER 2019, and finally to the victory at the DreamHack Winter 2019.
Hellraisers – the 3rd spot (worldwide) among the CIS-based clubs
The case of Hellraisers is an unique one indeed. While they were unable to exceed the mark of 1.2 million hours watched within the CIS, the combined worldwide figure reaches whopping 5.7 million hours and allows the team to overcome the positions of both VP and forZe. And this is given the rare and quite disappointing performances of the team at the international tournaments.
Over the course of the calendar year, the team has visited two majors. From these, their Katowice performance has resulted in taking the 12-14th spot, while the Berlin performance was an utter failure; these tournaments have also brought the team 1.6 million and 673 thousand hours watched, respectively. Over the course of the year, HR's statistics were constantly replenished by the most popular regular CS:GO league: ESL Pro League. So far, in 2020 this club has no access to such means of increasing its reputation.
AVANGAR – the 2nd spot (CIS) / 2nd spot (worldwide) among the CIS-based clubs
AVANGAR's performance in 2019 was great – yielding the 9-11th spot at the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice Major 2019, the victories at the DreamHack Open Rio de Janeiro 2019 and BLAST Pro Series Moscow 2019, as well as the sensational feat of getting the second spot at the StarLadder Major Berlin 2019. All of these achievements have brought the club nearly 20 million hours watched worldwide, of which 4.6 million are attributed to the Russian-language audience.
Naturally, the Berlin major have contributed to this statistics the most. The viewers across the world have spent nearly 10 million hours watched (a half of the team's annual result) watching the matches of AVANGAR, with the finals being watched by a total of 837 thousand viewers.
Peculiarly, AVANGAR has failed to take the lead by the hours watched at the two international LAN tournaments it was victorious at (DreamHack Open Rio de Janeiro 2019 and BLAST Pro Series Moscow 2019): the most hours watched went to the local Furia team (Brazilian championship) and to the forZe team (Moscow championship).
For AVANGAR to reach the same heights in 2020 is unlikely, as the club has sold its successful roster to Virtus.pro, then attempted to start from square one with the young players from Kazakhstan, and now it plans to stop operating in the esports club format at all.
Natus Vincere – the 1st spot (CIS) / 1st spot (worldwide) among the CIS-based clubs
While NAVI is losing its popularity in Dota 2, it gains popularity in CS:GO. While the team's results in 2019 weren't the most stable, it managed to keep its audience around. Over the course of the year, the viewers have spent a total of 10.3 million hours watched on the Russian-language broadcasts of the team's matched – and worldwide, this amounted to 33.8 million hours watched. Given that the roster of NAVI has managed to take part in nearly every large world championship in 2019, this is not surprising.
Regardless of the tournament visited by the "born to win", they always manage to be in the top of the average broadcast viewers. A striking example of this would be the StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 8, where NAVI has taken the 13-16th spot but was still at the 1st spot by the average viewers indicator (gathering more than 81 thousand viewers). The situation with majors is similar. Stopping in the quarter-finals of the Berlin championship, NAVI has managed to collect a total of 6.1 million hours watched as well as 380 thousand average viewers – becoming the tournament's highest ranked team by the latter indicator after the tournament's finalists, Astralis, with their 448 thousand average viewers.
The year 2020 has all the chances of bringing even more achievements for the club, seeing that the IEM Katowice 2020 alone has brought it nearly 10 million hours watched worldwide, while the team's ESL Pro League matches are at the record-breaking streak when it comes to their popularity. By April 7th, "born to win" have managed to overcome the mark of 20 million hours watched. While the results of other CIS-based clubs are a far cry of those of NAVI, the CS:GO leadership of the "born to win" is not going to be threatened anytime soon.