League of Legends World Championship is a key event in the world of esports, which annually sets new records and pushes the entire industry forward. Worlds 2018 was not the exception.
The tournament set the new record for the maximum number of viewers at once back in the Play-Inn stage, after which time after time attracting new users. During the Worlds 2018 Grand Final, a new bar was set in the history of esports — more than 200,000,000 spectators at the same time. However, things are not as perfect as they might seem.
The grand final was prepared excellently for new records: a team from Europe participated in it for the first time in many years, it supposed to motivate western fans greatly to watch the event online. The second team in the final was the Chinese, this fact automatically guaranteed great activity from Chinese viewers. In addition, there were many Korean players in these teams, which should have also attracted Korean audiences.
The convenient time zone and the participation of the team from the Middle Kingdom, Worlds 2018 gathered 200,000,000 viewers at once. League of Legends is a very popular game in China. In the same time, the Koreans disappointed — the number of viewers from this country fell by half compared with last year when there were two Korean teams in the final. Let me remind you that the tournament itself was held in South Korea.
In the same time, South Korea and its timezone didn’t help Worlds 2018 to become popular among the Western audience. Despite the sensational participation of the European team Fnatic in the grand finals of the tournament, the number of English-speaking spectators increased only slightly compared to last year — only 100.000 more people. If the grand finals went on longer, if it did not end after three short matches, it would be possible for new viewers to catch up, but we will never know.
Vietnamese community is one of the biggest without the Chinese segment. Compared to the previous year, their number during the grand final dropped significantly — from 386,000 people at the peak to 223,000 viewers. All of this together resulted in a sad picture — the maximum number of viewers without Chinese overall was bigger during Worlds 2017.
On the other hand, there are other statistics by which we can judge the growth of the tournament. The average number of viewers without Chinese for the entire Worlds 2018 is greater than that Worlds 2017 — 591,563 people on average against 519,144 people. The most objective indicator of popularity has also grown — the number of watched hours: 78.825.818 hours versus 70.387.309 hours, while Worlds 2018 was shorter than last year’s tournament.
Worlds 2018 partially pleased and partially disappointed. Due to a too short grand final and an uncomfortable time zone, the number of English-speaking spectators was not that big as it supposed to, which is why the sensational factor of participation of the European team in the grand final was not realized. On the other hand, China did everything to make dream come true, it gathered a record 200,000,000 people at the peak. The next Worlds will be held in the West, that is why the number of Chinese viewers will be less in any case because of the inconvenient time zone. On the other hand, it will allow English-speaking viewers to show unprecedented activity. It remains only to wait and watch a new competitive year.
P.S. 200,000,000 viewers were obtained from the sum of all viewers from all Chinese platforms. We did not take into account the platforms which use rating and do not show a specific number of viewers (for example, DouyuTV). The largest number of viewers was on PandaTV, where over 110 million users watched the tournament at the same time.