Dota 2 has always been the most popular esports game in CIS region. Russian-speaking broadcasts always surpass their English-speaking colleagues in terms of viewer count, and clubs are trying to sign even somewhat popular rosters to increase their fan base. But what else does CIS audience like to watch? Let's find out!
Dota 2 - The resolute leader
Without a doubt, Dota 2 is an uncontested leader. In one year Dota 2 fans have watched more than 100 million hours of different tournaments: from small regional championships to The International. And even though fans from South America and Asia found themselves some new disciplines to watch, CIS fans still remain loyal to their favorite game.
Dota 2 takes all first five tournaments' spots in terms of the average viewership. And not just because of the CIS universal love for the game. First of all, studios are trying their hardest to promote the game on all tournaments in all possible ways: by inviting special guests, creating content and competitions with awesome prizes and much more.
Secondly, last tournament season was quite successful for the main representative of the CIS region in Dota 2 scene - Virtus.Pro. Before TI, they've managed to get to the top 3 in every major, thus drastically increasing CIS viewership. And even after the big reshuffle Virtus.Pro games in qualifiers and other tournaments still attracted insane number of viewers. No CIS fans in their right mind would want to miss the first game of the newly formed Virtus.Pro and Natus Vincere. At the first large tournament of new season, MDL Chengdu Major, number of peak concurrent viewers has almost surpassed 94,000 people!
But without a doubt, nothing even comes close to The International for a Dota 2 fan, and CIS viewers are no exception. In 2019 the tournament was held in Shanghai, which was a nice change of pace for the CIS viewers, because they could watch the games during the day.
In TI9 Russian broadcast has reached more than 670,000 people in terms of peak concurrent viewers. And who knows how high would that number be if the guys from Na'Vi and VP hadn't dropped out so early.
While a lot of people claiming that Dota 2 is slowly dying, CIS fans have no intention of turning away from their favorite game. Sure, maybe they aren't playing as much as before, but they are still regularly tuning into tournament broadcasts. But the main competitor is getting closer and closer.
CS:GO - "A challenger"
Once every two weeks CS:GO breaks the records for peak concurrent players, and tournament organizers are always celebrating their record-breaking broadcast viewership numbers. In 2019 the shooter has even surpassed Dota 2 in terms of the overall hours watched. But it's the other way around in the CIS region, and it's not even close: in 2019 CS:GO fans have watched 50,9 millions hours, which is half as many as the regional leader.
While Dota 2 is a very top-heavy game, which mainly focuses on the big tournaments with the support from Valve, CS:GO has taken a different path. There are a lot of different competitive leagues in various regions, which helps to improve the competitive aspect of the game, but at the same time it reduces viewer interest.
Although it was in fact a CS:GO major in Berlin that managed to break the Dota 2 monopoly in terms of overall hours watched and peak concurrent viewers. Though, it's worth mentioning that these numbers are still nowhere near The International ones (240,000 peak viewers in CS:GO versus 670,000 peak viewers at TI).
One thing that has heavily impacted viewer's interest is the big reshuffle of region favorites - Natus Vincere. It has also affected their results in the tournament, Na'Vi had only reached 5/8th place. CIS viewers still had someone to watch for themselves - team AVANGAR, which managed to get to the finals of the Berlin major.
Maybe, their fan-sector in the Mercedes-Benz Arena was not as big as Na'Vi’s, but you could still feel the excitement of CIS viewers on Russian broadcasts. Unfortunately, CIS squad couldn't bring their A-game to the finals.
Now, when Natus Vincere are getting back in shape, CIS studios may again expect a growth in viewership on their broadcasts. Maybe CS:GO tournaments don't have 35 million dollars in prize pool, but who wouldn't want to watch games of the best team in the world according to HLTV?
At number three in this rating there should be...a huge gap. Because that's the only way to describe the difference in CIS viewers interest between Valve and non-Valve games. The disparity in numbers between the last 3 places seems so small and insignificant in comparison with Dota 2. For instance, the third place was taken by Warface, a game that's being distributed by MY.GAMES. The stats here really do speak for themselves - in one year the game has managed to get only 4 millions views.
There is one upside though - We can proudly call Warface our "national discipline". Most of the players here are from CIS, most of the are in Russian, and most of the LAN-finals are being held in Russia. Basically every component for a large viewership is there. Tournament organizers have tried a various options to increase the viewership, by inviting popular streamers, like Ilya Meddison and Andriy "Dread" Golubev, and by giving away presents for breaking the broadcast records. And it has paid off: more than a third of the overall hours watched happened during two tournaments with the biggest advertising campaigns: Warface Amrageddon League and Warface Open Cup:Season XIV Finals (874,000 and 771,000 hours respectively). Second tournament has also managed to get 51,000 concurrent viewers at its peak.
Well, we know one thing for sure - viewers love generosity!
It seems like CIS viewers just like Hearthstone for...being Hearthstone.
Last year, Blizzard has completely changed the tournament system, and that turned away a lot of professional players. But in CIS region nothing has really changed. HS still got 3,4 million hours watched, and the average viewership even increased a little bit.
Of course, it wouldn't have been possible without CIS favorites - SilverName and Kolento, both of whom managed to get to the GrandMaster league. Matches with the Team Spirit player became one of the most watched ones in European region, though unfortunately he didn't manage to get to the Blizzcon.
But if the changes in tournament systems haven't affected the popularity of the game, then Blizzard's new decision may seriously affect the Hearthstone viewership in CIS region. From now on, official tournaments can only be broadcasted on YouTube - one of the least popular platforms when it comes to esports. At the first tournament peak of the Russian stream has dropped from 9,000 viewers to just 1,400. If Blizzard won't come up with a solution, HS will disappear from the top this year.
PUBG is rounding out the top five most popular esports disciplines. Last year, the developers have started taking professional scene very seriously by implementing the regional leagues. This change has heavily impacted the overall popularity of the game, but even with such low numbers a "Battle Royale" has still managed to get to the top of CIS viewership. It's worth mentioning that Russian broadcast numbers had peaked with 17,000 concurrent viewers at Twitch Rivals PUBG Showdown #2, and not in the regular season.
PUBG developers should be thanking Natus Vincere for such a favor, because Na'Vi are not only heavily supporting their PUBG squad, but they also create new content on a regular basis, thus attracting new audience to the streams. It is also worth noting that mobile esports isn't really that popular in CIS just yet, for example, a lot of players in Asia have already switched to PUBG Mobile.
League of Legends also could've made it to the top 5, but CIS department in Riot Games has also decided to experiment a little: LCL matches have been broadcasted on unpopular streaming platform Yandex.live. It has negatively affected a lot of things: not only there was no clear display of concurrent viewers, but the viewers had a hard time even finding the streams, and the ones who were able to find them still couldn't watch the broadcasts because of the technical issues.
This season Russian-speaking broadcasts in LoL have moved back to Twitch and in just a few weeks have gathered around 500,000 hours watched.
From year to year preference of CIS viewers remains unchanged. Dota 2 is still uncontested, and CS:GO is heavily dependent on the results of CIS teams. To reach the level of popularity of Valve games in CIS region the developers have to come up with something completely unprecedented. Unfortunately, new tournament systems, giveaways and showmatches are just not enough.