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Phenomena 2020: how success in CS:GO helped NAVI to become 2nd most popular esports club in the world

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Phenomena 2020: how success in CS:GO helped NAVI to become 2nd most popular esports club in the world

Perhaps the main revelation of 2020 among esports organizations was Natus Vincere. The club had a remarkable season and became the second most popular organization in the world, only behind G2 Esports. In addition, Ukrainian multigaming showed an extremely strong growth in Hours Watched on streaming services — this number increased 1.7 times in a year! Esports Charts analyzed the success of NAVI and talked with the organization’s COO Alexey "xaoc" Kucherov about the new Dota 2 roster, victories in CS:GO and mastering mobile esports disciplines.

General dynamics — NAVI 2019 vs NAVI 2020

In 2019 Natus Vincere took sixth place in the ranking of the most popular organizations (metric excludes Battle Royale games). The matches of the club's teams totaled 49.7M HW. Most viewers followed the success of the CS:GO team: 68% of hours watched belonged to the s1mple team, the Dota roster accounted for 29.1%, and the rest came from Rainbow Six Siege, Quake Champions and Paladins.

In 2020, Hours Watched increased by 70% to 86.1M. Ratio of leaders in the disciplines has not changed, and the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team has only strengthened its leadership, bringing its share in the total HW to 72%. And there is one simple reason for that: the team has probably had its best season since signing s1mple.

NAVI began the year in CS:GO by replacing GuardiaN with the young talent Perfecto, who was chosen by the head coach of the team Andrey B1ad3 Gorodensky. And it paid off. In 17 tournaments of 2020, the team finished outside the top 4 only three times, three times competed in finals of tier-1 international championships, and most importantly, they won the only big LAN of the year — IEM Katowice 2020, where an absolute record for Russian-speaking CS:GO broadcast peak viewers was achieved. NAVI’s victory united all Russian-speaking fans, and that victory was a collective triumph of the community.

NAVI's achievments in CS:GO also influenced the overall PV statistics of esports tournaments in the CIS. Previously, Dota 2 was always on top (and primarily The International series), but in 2020 Counter-Strike tournaments were the most watched in the Russian-speaking region.

"CS:GO team has shown very good results this year. We competed in many finals of major championships, and if we finished second, it was with a minimum margin on five maps, which is also good for HW statistics. But the main thing is our fans in the CIS. Thank you so much for this support!”

Alexey "xaoc" Kucherov, COO NAVI

It got to the point where the most popular matches of some tournaments were not the finals, but NAVI's matches in the first rounds of the playoffs. And although the team's end of the season was not that successful, it still undoubtedly became the most popular team of the year in the discipline, at least according to the statistics of HW.

Natus Vincere outperformed not only Astralis in the rating, but also teams like VitalityG2 Esports, and MIBR: do we need to recall that Brazilians always get a lot of HW, including Gaules’ streams?

Despite the fact that the main successes of Natus Vincere in 2020 is associated with Counter-Strike, Dota 2 also cannot be ignored. MOBA team's matches scored 2.7 times fewer hours watched than the CS:GO team, but its contribution to the total is still significant.

NAVI's HW in Dota increased by almost 1,5 times (from 14.5M HW in 2019 to 22.3M HW in 2020). It happened after the club signed the FlyToMoon mix with Iceberg, ALWAYSWANNAFLY and V-Tune. NAVI had problems in Dota for years, but it seems that the new team can fix it.

FlyToMoon was signed by NAVI in September, and immediately began to prove that they deserve to play under such a famous tag. By the end of the year, the new roster got into the top 3 at three events out of four, and won one of them: NAVI ended the year with a victory at OGA Dota PIT S4: Europe/CIS.

"The FTM team is very positive in many senses. They like media activities, they are obsessed with winning and will fight until the very last. And it captivates fans”.

 Alexey "xaoc" Kucherov, COO NAVI

CS:GO and Dota 2 are the main esports disciplines for NAVI, but not the only ones. During the last year, the club has increased HW in Rainbow Six Siege (from 1.2M HW to 1.7M) and in Quake Champions. Alas, the shooter could not become popular with a wide audience, and cYpheR matches brought the club only 93K hours watched in a year, but this is three times more than it was in 2019. This is due to the fact that the Quake Champions tournament series has a Russian-language broadcast by Maincast.

Natus Vincere CS:GO academy team also should be mentioned: in 2020, NAVI Junior games collected just under a million hours watched, which is not bad for a young team. However, its main purpose is to raise members for the main team. NAVI's victory in this regard is the signing of m0NESY — one of the most talented players on the scene right now. He is only 15 years old, and he cannot compete in major events, but as soon as he turns 16 (this will happen in May), we expect to see him in one roster together with s1mple. 

In our metrics we did not take into account the Battle royal games', but they are also worth mentioning. NAVI has teams in Fortnite, Apex Legends, PUBG, and recently also in PUBG Mobile. Among the top clubs in the CIS, Natus Vincere have become pioneers in the discipline.

In PUBG Mobile Natus Vincere have already managed to win the EMEA League Finals and got to the main tournament in the discipline — PUBG Mobile Global Championship Season 0, which is taking place right now in Dubai. Fans of the team actively follow it on social networks, the team's YouTube channel already has more than 50K subscribers, and the videos gain tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of views.

"Mobile esports is becoming (if hasn't already become) a big part of the ecosystem and its development should be considered strategically. All in good time, and in the CIS mobile esports is not that desirable in terms of business, but we are starting to work with it and develop it anyway. So far we are just looking closely at other mobile disciplines and studying the situation”.

Alexey "xaoc" Kucherov, COO NAVI

Most popular matches and tournaments

It is not surprising that CS:GO took all top tournaments and matches. The main achievement of Natus Vincere in 2020 was the victory at IEM Katowice 2020, originally one of the most important tournaments in the discipline. Too bad in 2020 it was held without the crowd.

The final where Natus Vincere defeated G2 Esports with a score of 3:0, had more than 1M peak viewers, and 380K people watched the Russian-language broadcast. That became a record for Russian streams in the entire history of CS:GO.

In terms of NAVI's PV for the year, three more games with IEM Katowice were in the top 5 — they gathered from 545K to 720K viewers. Another game in the top is the intensive final of ESL Pro League Season 12 Europe, where NAVI lost to Astralis with a total score of 2:3.

The EPL Season 12 final (2.57M HW) also got the first place among matches, a much shorter final of IEM Katowice took the second place (2.56M HW), and the third place went to another long match, the final of IEM Beijing Online 2020 Europe, where Vitality outlasted NAVI with the score 3:2.

Notably, Dota 2 appears only in the top 5 tournaments in terms of HW. CS:GO events took the first four places again. EPIC League Season 2 Division 1, where NAVI matches scored 4.4M HW, was in fifth place. It’s interesting that NAVI pulled out of the championship after two playoff matches. If they had gone a little further, the tournament could have ended up in the top 3 in HW.

NAVI’s Audience — who, where and how is following the team?

Natus Vincere is the most popular esports organization in the CIS. Therefore, it is not surprising that the majority of fans are viewers of Russian-language broadcasts: in 2020, Russian-speaking streams accounted for 43.4% of Hours Watched.

English-language streams were behind Russian ones only by 2%, accounting for 41.2% of the sample. The third most popular language was Portuguese, which is primarily due to the general popularity of CS:GO in Brazil. In addition, the NAVI tag is also very popular there: there was a reason why local authorities at the highest government level decided to organize a joint project with the legendary NAVI's captain Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko.

As expected, the main streaming platform for NAVI was Twitch — it gathered 81.9% of broadcasts. Second place went to YouTube, which accounted for 16.5% of match views. Facebook has barely gained 1.15% — the platform has not managed to become a full-fledged competitor to the two bigger competitors.

In addition to languages and platforms, we also calculated the percentage of NAVI's core audience in different disciplines. To do this, Esports Charts calculated the percentage of the audience that watched at least ⅓ of the all matches time in each discipline.

NAVI fans in CS:GO became the undisputed leader — 22.6% of viewers watched one third of all team games in 2020. On average, the Counter-Strike core audience spent more than 15.2 hours on the roster's games.

Natus Vincere’s core audience in Rainbow Six became the second, but in percentage terms it’s much smaller than the number of fans in CS:GO — 15,19%. They also spent less time on matches (on average, 5,9 hours in a year), but this is primarily due to the length of the games: matches are shorter in R6.

The core audience of Dota is in third place, it amouths 14.83% of the whole number of NAVI fans in the discipline. But according to the average time spent on the broadcasts of matches, they beat both CS:GO and R6 — 22 hours on average in 2020. This also primarily depends on length of matches: series in Dota usually last much longer than in CS:GO. 

It should also be noted that Dota 2 fans are still more involved and committed than fans in other disciplines. Why? You can read about it in the analytical material of Esports Charts.


While most of the clubs either lost in Hours Watched (like Team Liquid), or improved very slightly (as in the case of Fnatic), the Ukrainian organization showed phenomenal growth compared to its competitors. It should also be noted that the top clubs get a huge number of views from League of Legends, and NAVI achieved their results without this discipline. What will happen if Natus Vincere decides to join the LEC?

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