What's more popular - League of Legends or Fortnite? It's an eternal question for all the viewers around the world. But what if mobile gaming with such games as Free Fire and Arena of Valor is getting pretty close? For CIS viewers the answer is obvious - the main discipline here is Dota 2. Let's check out the most popular tournaments in terms of CIS viewership, which CS:GO championship outdid couple of majors and what other games are fighting for the viewer interest in the region.
Of course, The International 2019 is an indisputable leader in all categories. Dota 2 World Championship became the leader in terms of CIS audience interest in all three categories, and that's not surprising. The most popular discipline in the region has no intention of giving up its first spot.
First of all, The International has set the record in terms of peak concurrent viewership. More than 670,000 viewers have gathered on Russian-speaking broadcasts to watch the final match of the tournament - Team Liquid versus OG. Last year, the Russian-speaking stream only managed to gather 475,000 viewers at its peak.
TI has also set the new record in terms of overall hours watched. CIS viewers have spent more than 27,2 million hours on the broadcasts, surpassing all other tournaments by three times. It represented more than 30% out of all views in TI9, without taking into account Chinese audience.
The third new record is in terms of the average concurrent viewers, and once again The International 9 is unmatched. On average, more than 218,000 Russian-speaking viewers were watching TI matches. Of course, Natus Vincere and Virtus.pro games were in a high priority, but Team Liquid lower bracket run also got some deserved attention.
TI CIS qualifiers have also turned out to be very popular, especially in two categories - average concurrent viewers (107,900 & 2nd place) and peak concurrent viewers (217,000 & 5th place). Of course, the final match of the qualifiers, Na`Vi versus Winstrike, has attracted the most attention. And that number could've been much higher if the games in the final series weren't so one-sided.
EPICENTER Major 2019 becomes the second most popular tournament among the CIS audience. Convenient time zone for CIS viewers, home stadium, and most importantly entirely Russian-speaking main broadcast channel - all of these factors have heavily accounted for the success of the Epic Esports Events tournament.
But the main reason for the tournament's popularity is the story behind CIS teams. Gambit Esports had a chance to earn a direct invite to The International, and Virtus.pro had an opportunity to break their "EPICENTER curse" and get as far as possible, so it's no surprise that VP games were the most popular ones among the CIS audience.
At the year-end Epicenter has peaked at number 2 in terms of Hours Watched (8,7 million), surpassing other Dota 2 Majors and CS:GO tournaments. But in terms of peak concurrent viewers EPICENTER has only ranked 4th, 230,000 people tuned in to watch lower bracket finals between Team Liquid and VP. Unfortunately, CIS representative couldn't defeat their opponent and, as a result, has finished 3rd in the tournament.
MDL Disneyland Paris Major is the next most popular tournament for CIS audience. The tournament, which was held in May, ranked fourth in terms of total hours watched (6,3 million) and fifth in terms of average concurrent viewers (65,000). This time, the audience's attention was mainly focused on the Western teams - Liquid, Secret and Evil Geniuses. And because CIS representatives didn't show their best performance, the tournament didn't make it to the top 5, reaching only number seven. One of the main reasons for such decline in popularity is an early dropout of one of the fan favorites - Virtus.pro. Unfortunately, VP had only managed to reach 8th place at this major.
DreamLeague Season 11 also made it to our list, although usually DreamLeague tournaments are more popular among the English-speaking audience, mainly because of its laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. But due to a great CIS teams' performance and the Major status, CIS audience was able to generate 6,1 million watched hours, which is nearly half of the overall statistics, without taking into account Chinese platforms (14,4 million). DreamLeague Season 11 took fifth place In the "Hours Watched" category in 2019, and has also peaked at number 4 in terms of average concurrent viewers (66,000).
And only one tournament from the other discipline has managed to make it to our list - StarLadder Major Berlin 2019 CS:GO championship. Viewers were particularly interested in Natus Vincere’s tense games, and unexpectedly strong performance from team AVANGAR.
But even though this young team has managed to get to the finals, it was in fact a Na`Vi match versus NRG in the quarter-finals that has gathered more than 240,000 viewers and surpassed both Chongqing And EPICENTER Dota 2 Majors in terms of peak viewers. Because of that CS:GO Berlin Major has peaked at number 2 in this category in 2019. Although, all these numbers are still very far from The International ones, not to mention the prize pulls.
CS:GO Berlin Major has also managed to make it to the top 5 in terms of the total hours watched. CIS viewers have watched around 7,4 million hours of this tournament. However, in comparison to the overall hours watched (45 millions, not counting the Chinese platforms), this number is not so significant.
The second most popular CS:GO tournament of the year, IEM Katowice Major 2019, also got pretty close to the top 5 most popular championships in 2019. For example, in terms of the overall watched hours the tournament peaked at number 6, barely losing to DreamLeague, which got 300,000 more hours. And considering current statistics of the online-leagues featuring Na`Vi, major CS:GO tournaments have all the potential to compete with Dota 2 Majors for the spot in the top 5 in 2020.
But the interest of CIS audience goes beyond these two games. Maybe other games don't have the same numbers when it comes to average concurrent viewers or hours watched, but they are doing just fine in terms of peak concurrent viewers.
Between all new "growing" disciplines in 2019, a mobile battle royale Free Fire takes the lead. More than 64,000 CIS viewers were watching the Free Fire World Series in Rio. Of course, these numbers are not even close in comparison with the Portuguese broadcast, but it's still an impressive result for a region, where mobile esports is not so popular.
Needless to say, that CIS audience was mainly focusing on the games of the Chechen squad, that managed to get to the finals, where they unfortunately were defeated. Free Fire got a lot more popular in CIS region after the crucial performance from the Chechen team, and even now broadcasts of the regional Russian league are attracting more than 10,000 viewers.
Second place in this list goes to the Clan Wars in World of Tanks. 16 strongest CIS clans have participated in the competition. Some of them even broadcasted the games on their own channels, and these streams have attracted a lot of WOT fans. Because of the unconventional concept, some of the popular players even managed to gather more than 50,000 viewers on their streams.
Another CIS discipline, Warface, has ranked in both third and fourth place. In February 2019, MY.GAMES had organized Warface Open Cup: Season XIV Finals, which still remains the most successful Warface tournament in terms of peak concurrent viewers. A total of 8 teams have participated in the tournament, 2 teams were from the western region, and the remaining six were all from Russian-speaking servers. Tournament organizers have also held a showmatch between women's teams.
Hearthstone World Championship, which was held in April, is rounding out the top 5 most popular tournaments in 2019. Sadly, there were no CIS representatives amongst tournament participants, but nonetheless more than 31,000 CIS viewers were watching the tournament at its peak. In comparison, GrandMasters 2019 Global Finals at BlizzCon didn't manage to gather even 10,000 viewers at its peak.
There's also a big possibility that Hearthstone won't make it to the list next year. Blizzard has moved all of their tournament broadcasts to YouTube, and it had a severe impact on the CIS viewer's interest to the game. And because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Masters Tour Los Angeles organizers even had to cancel online-broadcasts for most matches.
From year to year preference of CIS viewers remains unchanged. Dota 2 is still leading in all possible categories, and it's not even close. Other disciplines just have to either hope for a standout performance from their CIS representatives, or that someday viewer's interest in Dota 2 will somehow start declining. But until then - let's wait for a bunch of new records from The International.