This marks the first official international LAN tournament within the championship, as all of its previous events were held online and in separate regions. Due to this, the VCT 2021 Stage 1 Masters series didn’t reach the expected viewership numbers by far.
With the ongoing Stage 2 Masters being an offline major, the Champions Tour is finally living up to the expectations. The second Masters event surpassed 600K Peak Viewers and almost 5M Hours Watched during the first day of the competition, marking a new discipline record (excluding promo tournaments and Twitch Rivals competitions).
To be able to objectively sum up the viewership statistics of the Stage 2 Masters event, complete data is required. Once the tournament is over, we will present a separate article on viewership of this major.
But before this phase of the championship definitely wraps up, we can take a look at how the series performed up to this point and highlight some of its most important moments. For the purposes of this article, we excluded the Stage 2 Masters stats.
North America leads the way
The official year-long esports circuit of regional competition for Riot Games’ new tactical shooter was announced by the developer in late 2020. The series officially kicked off in January with the first of three Challenger phases within the Stage 1.
During 2488 hours of Air Time since its start (including qualifiers), the VCT 2021 recorded over 42M Hours Watched.
From the very beginning, the viewership statistics was clearly showing the North American region as the leader. Viewers of North America contributed 18.2M Hours Watched, which is 42.4% of the total HW. The region has been consistently reaching the highest numbers in the majority of VCT events. The peak of 363K concurrent viewers was hit during the NA Stage 1 Masters.
European spectators brought in 7.8M Hours Watched (18.4%), placing the Old continent second, with less than half of NA’s contribution. Next is Turkey (3.8M HW), Brazil (3.7M HW), Japan (3M HW) and South Korea (2.5M HW).
There are several reasons why VALORANT is significantly more prevalent in North America than in the rest of the world. First, the NA CS:GO has seen a decline since the coronavirus pandemic practically moved all the important CS:GO competition to Europe and therefore created space for a new esport of a similar genre.
Second, the initial promotion of the game by Riot was most intense in NA and Europe. Third, with the Champions Tour announcement, some of the most popular NA esports organizations spotted an opportunity and signed their VALORANT rosters, that would later become the most spectated teams within the championship.
Currently, the most popular team in the competition is 100Thieves with an average audience of 102K viewers. Next is Sentinels (93K AV) and FaZe Clan (82K AV). The following Team Liquid (80.9K AV) and BBL Esports (74.9K AV) were the only non-NA teams in the top 10 most popular teams by Average Viewers.
The higher volume of NA spectators is also a result of several well-known Twitch streamers such as Pokimane, Ninja or Shroud, who carried VCT broadcasts and even got ahead of the official stream at several points.
Looking at the language distribution, the chart accurately reflects the regional distribution of VCT viewers. The most hours watched was brought in by an English-speaking audience — over 25M HW, which is 58.8% of the total amount of people who tuned in to watch the championship.
The Turkish audience was the second-highest contributor with 5.5M HW (12.9%), followed by Portuguese (3.8M HW), Japanese (3M HW) and Spanish (2M HW) viewers.
As evidenced, Turkey has been showing a notable performance when it comes to VALORANT viewership, at times even comparable with Europe and Brazil. The popularity of the title in the region is almost exclusively pulled by BBL Esports and their fan base.
As to the contribution by platforms, Twitch stays the leader of VCT 2021 broadcast by a margin, with a 36.8M HW contribution (85.7%). YouTube follows with 5.5M HW (12.8%) and Facebook with 369K HW (0.86%).
VALORANT’s popularity growth
The inaugural season of the VALORANT Champions Tour showed a slow growth of viewership initially, especially when compared to the First Strike, Riot’s first official VALORANT tournament series that took place by the end of 2020.
However, the later stages of the competition proved that the discipline is looking to become the next huge esports title, and the performance of the ongoing Stage 2 Masters only confirms it.
To find out how huge VALORANT will get, we will probably have to wait until life is back to normal and major LAN tournaments are a standard rather than a rarity. One thing is for sure — the VALORANT hype is real, and based on how Riot Games is invested in developing esports scenes for its titles, it will likely make sure to create a sustainable ecosystem, just like it did with League of Legends.
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