League of Legends was the least affected by the coronavirus pandemic unlike many other esports disciplines. Regional leagues went online with the beginning of the quarantine and the traditional summer international tournament Mid-Season Invitational was canceled, but Worlds still took place and was held in China with spectators. So, which teams became the most popular in the discipline in 2020?
South Korea dominates once again
2018-2019 seasons turned out to be a failure for South Korea, which is traditionally considered as the strongest region in League of Legends. Prior to that local teams crushed everyone in the international arena and regularly won the world championships.
Worlds 2017 was the last to date when two Korean teams met in the final. After that T1 got into a long-term crisis and other regions started to shine and take advantage of the situation. Especially Chinese teams, which won Worlds 2018 and Worlds 2019.
But now Korea is back on top. LCK representative won the Worlds 2020, although the Chinese teams did their best to prevent this: but neither Top Esports nor Suning stopped DAMWON Gaming (now known as DWG KIA) on its way to the trophy. All this affected places distribution in the ranking as Koreans started to dominate again.
League of Legends team ranking is based on the number of hours viewers spent watching esports matches of teams in 2020 (Hours Watched); statistics from chinese streaming platforms not included.
Only three teams from South Korea got in the top 10 in 2019. But in 2020, the region is represented by five teams in the ranking, and two of them (T1 and Afreeca Freecs) didn’t even make it to Worlds 2020.
Current world champion DWG KIA became the most popular team in the discipline in 2020 with 59.7M Hours Watched. The rest of the teams in the top 5 go in a rather tight group, as the difference by Hours Watched between them does not exceed 3.5M. Worth noting that thanks to the success in League of Legends DWG KIA got in the overall top 10 most popular esports organizations in 2020.
Also Read: Top esports organizations of 2020
Compared to 2019, the number of European and American teams in the ranking has decreased. Only G2 Esports (#3 with 48.7M Hours Watched) and Fnatic (#7 with 37.3M HW) got into the top 10 from LEC. The only LCS representative was Team SoloMid: #9 with 28.6M Hours Watched.
Chinese teams in 2018-2019 became world champions, but this time the trophy went to Korea. However, LPL participants still proved to be very competitive in the international arena: Suning Gaming reached the final, which secured the team #6 in the ranking (38.8M Hours Watched), and Top Esports got to the semifinals and finished at #9 (30.5M Hours Watched). One should also note that Chinese regional league has been improving its viewership statistics throughout 2020.
Top teams from developing regions
The best teams from six leagues get direct invites to the Group Stage of Worlds. These are LCK (South Korea), LEC (Europe), LCS (North America), LPL (China) and PCS (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia) and VCS (Vietnam). Therefore, the top 10 usually includes the teams from these regions. But which teams have become the most popular in 2020 among the regions that start Worlds only from the Play-In stage?
Unicorns of Love, an LCL representative (CIS), showed itself better than the rest of the teams from developing regions in 2020. This is the only team that doesn’t belong to the top 5 regional leagues that got to the Group Stage through the Play-In. The team scored 15.4M Hours Watched in a year.
The top 5 teams from the developing regions also included three rosters from Brazilian CBLOL. These are INTZ, paiN Gaming and Flamengo eSports. It is noteworthy that only INTZ out of three rosters participated in Worlds 2020.
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