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The growth in popularity of CS:GO since 2019

The growth in popularity of CS:GO since 2019

Today, CS:GO is one of the most important esports disciplines in Western countries. The Majors attract more than a million viewers, but how does the game’s viewership compare to its online player performance? Let’s find out!

In this article we are going to compare the difference between the number of viewers on Twitch and the amount of people who actually play the game. The data represents the results from January 2019 to July 2020. During this period of time there were two World Championships, new operation, and, of course, CS:GO has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, just like the rest of esports.

The overall picture demonstrates an increase in both viewers and players. Since the beginning of last year the amount of active players in CS:GO has increased drastically and at one point it reached 1,3 million concurrent players. It's still nowhere near the amount of concurrent players in PUBG (4 million players), however it's still an incredible result. Unfortunately, in the last couple of months the amount of active players has been slowly declining and has now dropped to 1 million players.

It's worth mentioning that the introduction of the new operation Shattered Web had little to no impact on the amount of concurrent players. Battle Pass and many other new features were released in mid-November, as you can see in our chart, there was a small spike in active players during that time, although it's hard to say how much of a difference it made because the online has been steadily increasing for a long time before that.

Interestingly enough, the amount of CS:GO viewers on Twitch has not been increasing overtime, moreover - the disparity in numbers is enormous, mainly due to the huge intervals between the CS:GO tournaments. And during this "Quiet Time" CS:GO fans are left with streams of pro players and Twitch personalities.

Two huge spikes in viewership happened during two Majors and during Intel Extreme Masters Katowice. Polish tournament showed some downright incredible results and not once, but twice. First time it happened because the tournament had the status of a "Major", and the second time because of the insane amount of CIS viewers.

However, the highest peak viewership happened during the IEM Katowice 2020. The reason is obvious - Ukrainian organization Natus Vincere. The "Born To Win" squad has finally managed to reach their long-awaited first place and by doing so evoked some of the best and memorable emotions in viewers. The amount of CIS viewers who were closely watching their road to the top is just astonishing. As a result - more than one millions viewers were watching the tournament at its peak, which is undoubtedly a new record for a non-Valve tournament. You can read more information about the tournament on our blog.

COVID-19 pandemic has positively affected the amount of active players in CS:GO. The average number of players has increased from 700,000 to 1,25 million in just a few months. However, the number of players has started slowly declining, as more and more countries around the world began relaxing their quarantine rules. Now it varies between one million and 900,000 players.

It's no secret that the release of Valorant has also affected the CS:GO player base, Valorant is considered the main competitor to CS:GO by many players, although in this aspect Fortnite has suffered even more, when a huge chunk of its player base have switched to Valorant. 

The closed testing period of Riot Games' new shooter was launched in April and it has gathered more than 1 million viewers, a number that can be reached in CS:GO only in the biggest tournaments. However, after the initial hype for a new game has dropped down, things are once again beginning to look up for CS:GO.

From an esports point of view CS:GO is in a much better place than Valorant. Top tier Valorant tournaments rarely attract more than 100,000 viewers. At the same time, almost every CS:GO tournament reaches around 200,000 viewers at its peak. We can also compare CS:GO results with the other Valve's creation - Dota 2, which is also not looking too good right. Not only the amount of active players in Dota 2 has not been increasing, it's been steadily declining for quite a while. According to the data, the biggest decline of playerbase happened in June 2020, when for the first time since 2013 the amount of active players dropped down to just 500,000.

Dota 2 viewership on Twitch is looking even grimmer. The number of viewers during this 18 months varied around 100,000, and sometimes it would drop even lower. The only exception was The International 2019, which is no surprise. Since the beginning of the championship, the viewership has increased dramatically, and more than 1 million 38,000 viewers were watching the tournament at its peak. Which is, by the way, 23% more than the peak viewership at the most popular CS:GO major - IEM Katowice.

Decrease in player base becomes even more obvious when we look at the top 10 most popular streamers in Russian-speaking segment. Until spring, popular Dota 2 streamers were always at the top of the list, but they have been slowly dropping down the list since April, and now they are on the verge of dropping out of top 10 completely.

By comparing Dota 2 and CS:GO charts we can see that these games have "switched places". The biggest spike in popularity in Dota 2 happened in the first quarter of 2019, and it's been on the decline ever since, whereas CS:GO has been on the rise since the beginning of 2019.

In conclusion it's safe to say - even though CS:GO was released more than 8 years ago, old players are as passionate at the game as they used to be, and considering the amount of new players we can assume that they are also having a blast. And if some of them will ever get tired of playing the game - they can always just relax and watch their favorite team compete in the top tournaments.

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