Esports was going through a tough time during the pandemic. But did any of the organizations take advantage of the situation? Esports Charts presents the ranking of the most popular esports clubs in the world and explains why Liquid lost its leadership, why NAVI rose rapidly, and which team set the peak viewers record of the year.
The ranking of organizations has changed quite a lot compared to 2019. Previously unrepresented Korean clubs (mainly those who have teams in League of Legends) hit the top. At the same time, many popular Western organizations left the ranking: Vitality, Evil Geniuses, Virtus.pro and Ninjas in Pyjamas. This was largely because of the cancellation of CS:GO majors and The International in Dota 2.
In the metric, we took into account hours watched of teams from all disciplines in which the organization is represented, on all platforms where broadcasts were held. The only exception were battle royale games: they are not included.
The top is opened by one of the best Korean teams in League of Legends: DRX. Club rebranded last summer (until June it was called DragonX, and even earlier it was KING-ZONE DragonX). The team had a great year both on the local stage in LCK and on the international stage. DRX did not win any splits, but finished in the top 3 twice, and for the first time in its short history (the organization is only two years old) reached the playoffs of Worlds 2020.
Their compatriots from DAMWON Gaming were the reason why the team failed to do better in tournaments: DAMWON beat DRX in the final of the LCK summer split and in the quarterfinal of Worlds 2020 If the team went further in the World Championship, it could have been higher in our ranking.
Once the undisputed leader of the League of Legends competitive scene is now going through pretty tough times. Three-time world champions played at Worlds only once in the last three years. In 2020, the team did not proceed to the the main tournament in the discipline, having lost in the crucial match of LCK Regional Finals 2020 to Gen.G. But it did not prevent T1 from getting into the top 10!
Over the year, T1 has fallen significantly in the ranking among the clubs from the top 10. At the end of 2019, the organization scored 72.1M hours watched, while in 2020 it was only 53.2M (-18.9M hours watched in a year).
Despite the setbacks in League of Legends, T1 continues to actively expand its presence in esports media. In 2020, the club was relatively successful in Apex Legends and also signed a Valorant team with the popular ex-Counter-Strike players from North America. However, the main resource of the organization is still the League of Legends team, whose success pretty much defines the overall popularity of the brand.
Astralis spent almost the entire year in limbo. In mid-May, changes in the CS:GO team began: two players went inactive and the club started to shuffle newcomers. Results became noticeably worse than they were before.
The team became more or less stable only in fall, when gla1ve and Xyp9x returned. Team went with the big finish, having won DreamHack Masters Winter 2020: Europe and the IEM Global Challenge. However, no one had any doubts that Astralis was the best team in the world in 2019, but in 2020 the Danes performed at about the same level as NAVI and Vitality.
Astralis has two other assets that also bring the club hours watched on streaming services: FIFA players and the LoL Origen team. In fall, the club rebranded its League of Legends team, now it will perform under the Astralis tag. The last split in LEC was frankly a failure for the team (it finished at last place), but now the club has completely changed the roster and is ready to fight for the highest places.
Also Read: Esports Calendar 2021
In 2020 Astralis gained 5.5M HW more than in 2019. However, it was not enough and the club dropped from the fifth to the eighth place in the ranking.
The management of Gen.G Esports hardly expected that their League of Legends team would barely reach the level of Worlds (in 2017 the club signed the world champions from Samsung Galaxy), but now this is a reality. Nevertheless, 2020 was still the most successful year in the organization's history.
Gen.G finished in the top 3 twice in the LCK Spring and Summer splits and got a spot at the World Championship. However, as in the case of DRX, the team could not go past quarterfinals, where they lost to G2 Esports.
It was also the first really successful year for Gen.G team in the Overwatch League (Seoul Dynasty). The team was close to winning the third season of the league, but in the decisive match lost to San Francisco Shock.
CS:GO team also brought the organization some hours watched. The team did not achieve great success on the international stage (their only big victory was at DreamHack Open Anaheim 2020), but it became a permanent member of the Flashpoint league so it’s not going anywhere for a foreseeable future.
The OG brand continues to grow, not only due to the Dota team. Yes, n0tail’s team still collects the largest share of hours watched for the tag, but in 2020 the CS:GO roster also performed very well: their matches contributed 40% to overall HW.
Aleksib’s team did not win a single championship, but often reached the decisive stages of the playoffs. In general, the team had an excellent competitive year and eventually finished the season in seventh place in the HLTV.org ranking. An outstanding result for a team that has existed for just over a year.
The OG Dota roster performed roughly as it always did in the Dota Pro Circuit regular seasons. N0tail’s team participated in four finals (and reached the semifinals several more times), but never won a single championship. But as we know, OG plays at full force only at The International.
The club also experimented a little with the second Dota team — OG Seed. However, the tournament operators have made it clear that they disapprove of the presence of two rosters in organizations, and the club abandoned the team quite quickly.
The top 5 is opened by the best team in the world in League of Legends at the moment — DWG KIA, which won the last World Championship. The team got its best form by the mid-summer of 2020: first, the team won the summer split in LCK, and then left no chance for anyone in Worlds, having lost only three maps for the entire tournament.
The success at the World Championship brought new sponsors to the club: in December 2020, the organization introduced a new title sponsor — automobile manufacturer KIA Motors. On January 8, the club, originally called DAMWON Gaming, was renamed to DWG KIA.
Worth noting that DWG KIA is the only organization in top 10 that has only one active esports roster. DWG KIA also holds the record for the 2020 season by peak viewers, which was set in the World Championship final: 3.8M people simultaneously watched the game between DAMWON and Suning.
Fnatic opens the Big Four of the most popular organizations of 2020. The last esports season turned out to be very difficult for Fnatic, but the club was still able to increase HW compared to 2019.
Perhaps the biggest upset was the form of Fnatic’s CS:GO team. Until April the team was one of the best in the world, but after the nerf of Krieg they started having problems: by the end of the year the roster had finished only twice in top 4 at more than 10 tournaments and in December dropped to 14th place in the HLTV.org ranking. Reshuffle in the team has already begun: in early January, flusha left the team and a young sniper Jackinho took his place.
Problems also arose in Dota 2. The team was "locked” in SEA: it could only play the local tournaments. Moreover, since the end of June, the team has not won a single championship after its captain iceiceice was transferred to Evil Geniuses.
Fnatic performed consistently well in League of Legends, although it lost a rivalry to G2 Esports in LEC for a second year in a row. Fnatic finished the spring and summer LEC splits in second place, and once again only reached the quarterfinals of the World Championship.
Despite the results, the matches of the Fnatic teams in 2020 scored 76.8M hours watched. Organizations gained 3.4M hours watched more than in 2019. But, as in the case of Astralis, this was not enough: the club dropped from the third to the fourth place in the ranking.
Team Liquid is represented in 13 disciplines in esports. The organization is the leader by total airtime (1.4K hours — the rest have 2-3 times less). However, in 2020, the club fell to the third place, although it was the undisputed leader of the ranking for three years in a row. The reason for the drop is simple: the club's results in three key esports disciplines: League of Legends, CS:GO and Dota 2.
After KuroKy left Liquid, the club signed the Scandinavian roster of Alliance, but the team has not yet been able to achieve the same results. The new team as a whole looks confident, and it gained especially good form by the late fall of 2020, when it won ESL One Germany 2020. But still, Liquid did not have a resounding success.
The Liquid crisis in Counter-Strike has lasted for more than a year. After a phenomenal winning streak in the summer of 2019, the team lost its form, made several changes and then transferred the team to Europe. The team reached the finals of local championships several times, but almost always it was stopped by FURIA. At the end of the year Liquid also finished second at IEM Global Challenge, where the team lost to Astralis in the final. The revival of Liquid may happen in 2021: now the legendary captain FalleN will play for Liquid: what if the team lacked him?
Liquid also had problems in League of Legends. In 2019, the club's team won both LCS splits, but in 2020 it finished ninth at spring split, and then the third at summer split. Roster also could not rehabilitate at the World Championship: the team did not reach the playoffs for the third time in a row.
However, no matter what problems the team has, Liquid remains one of the most recognizable brands in esports. As one can say: form is temporary, class is permanent.
Team Liquid lost the most hours watched among the leaders of the ranking. In 2019, their HW was 124.4M, and in 2020, it fell by as much as 42.6M hours. As a result, the club fell from the undisputed first place to the third.
The one who benefited from the global quarantine in terms of popularity is Natus Vincere. Over the year, the Ukrainian organization has risen from the sixth to the second place in the ranking of the popularity of organizations. And it’s primarily thanks to the CS:GO team.
The 2020 season was NAVI's best in several years. The team of Alexander s1mple Kostylev rarely fell below the fourth place in tournaments and also won the only world-class LAN of 2020 — IEM Katowice.
NAVI’s CS:GO team outperformed the Dota roster by three times in terms of HW. But the Dota team was still quite successful compared to some older rosters of NAVI in the discipline.
NAVI showed the best dynamics among the top organizations: in a year they scored 36.4M more hours watched than in 2019! In the near future, more detailed material about the success of NAVI in 2020 will be released on Esports Charts: do not miss the upcoming announcements!
Carlos "ocelote" Rodriguez can only be applauded. Every day he leads his organization to new heights. At the end of 2020, it was G2 Esports that became the most popular esports organization of the year.
It should be noted that the club scored 9.3M hours watched less than in 2019, but this did not prevent the organization from taking the first place in the ranking. It is also worth mentioning that by the end of the year, G2 was recognized as the best esports team / organization at The Game Awards and The Esports Awards: as you can see, the statistics often match public opinion.
Of course, the main asset of the organization is the League of Legends team, which brought the club almost half of all hours watched (48.7M). The team has already won everything that is possible in the European league, but it still can not win the World Championship: this is what all the fans of G2 and ocelote himself dream about.
The second most important roster for G2 is the CS:GO team. It started off very well last year, but then started having problems: the team often left the competitions in the early stages. As a result, not just anyone but NiKo replaced JaCkz! Moreover, its announcement was as informal as possible: it seems that only G2 can afford this among Western organizations.
The club also enjoys success in Rainbow Six Siege (recently they won the European league), Rocket League and Valorant: but even these teams are unable to compete with CS:GO team alone.
G2 is being G2: the most informal social networks, high-profile transfers (Rekkles from Fnatic is enough to mention alone), and large sponsorship deals (have you seen the G2 ad with Adidas?). The club is clearly not going to stop: while ocelote is at the helm, we will hear about G2 very often.
Top esports organizations of 2020