The Most Popular Esports Games of 2019
2019 saw plenty of records smashed and some serious viewing hours watched, which has in turn given us the answer to “what is the most popular esport in 2019?”. The results are in and you might even be surprised at how many streaming hours players have tuned in for.
This list focuses primarily on hours watch and specifically on Twitch.tv, meaning that Chinese streaming platforms do not contribute towards these final figures.
Throughout the year, the esports industry has seen a huge increase of newcomers who are now seeking the opportunity to watch some of their favorite streamers, teams and personalities across the most popular esports. What might surprise you is a large increase of interest in the autobattler genre. Meanwhile, battle royale games continue to thrive but this time in the mobile market. In fact, some mobile versions have even overtaken their PC or console counterparts.
Now, to answer the burning question on everyone’s minds. We reveal, which were the most popular esports of 2019.
5. Arena of Valor
- 72,248,735 Watched Hours
In fifth place is Arena of Valor. 2019 was certainly a busy year for the mobile game and whilst it appears at the bottom of this top 5 list, it’s actually the most viewed mobile game on the planet, quite some achievement and definitely a silver lining. If Chinese viewership was taken into consideration, Arena of Valor could appear higher in this list. The game has taken the Asian audience by storm and the AoV World Cup 2019 was by far the biggest contribution to the moba games’ viewing hours, racking up a modest 72 million hours.
Unlike its rivals, AoV became the most popular mobile game of the year not because of the sheer amount of tournaments being held, but instead because of their focus on quality.
- 81,424,064 Watched Hours
Blizzard’s team-based shooter from 2016 has firmly cemented it’s position on this list in fourth place and despite having a somewhat rocky year, has managed to tally up more than 81 million hours watched. Unfortunately for Blizzard and fans, the second season of the Overwatch League hasn’t taken off as much as its debut year and this could be down to the lack of diversity the game offers.
Granted the Anaheim, CA, based developer has plenty in store moving forward, with Overwatch 2 being formally announced at their iconic Blizzcon event, in 2019. However, the game wasn’t really gaining any sort of ground until the autumn, when the Overwatch League Season 2 Playoffs began, running from August – September. Also at Blizzcon we saw the national Overwatch teams battle it out and Korea losing their first place spot to USA, for the first time ever in the game’s most prestigious tournament.
3. Dota 2
- 282,296,886 Watched Hours
Coming in at third is Valve’s Dota 2. Despite being so high up the list, this wasn’t the best year for the MOBA title but still managed to attain a massive 282 million hours watched over the course of the year, losing out to second place by only a couple of million hours.
The majority of Dota 2’s viewing hours came, unsurprisingly, from The International. In fact, the top-flight tournament accounted for over 31% of the total accumulated viewership towards Dota 2’s 2019 stats. In other major competitions, EPICENTER Major 2019 brought 6% of views in total. ESL One Birmingham was the most popular event that isn’t part of DPC and contributed 3.4% of Dota 2 viewing hours for the year.
All that being said, Dota 2 was still in a decline from the previous year and the only competition revealing any sort of growth was The International. The bad news continues for Dota 2, as viewing hours for the game have stagnated, its long-running rival broke new records and potentially gained new viewers from Dota 2 in the process.
It’s important to note how far the top 3 esports are ahead of the rest of the herd. Going off the final results, the distance between 4th place and 3rd is a staggering 246% and there are a few theories as to why this is.
Firstly, Valve games still receive full third-party support, which is unlikely to change and is a huge factor in the lifespan of esports titles. Due to this, we see championship matches occuring all over the globe and players of all abilities being able to enter for a chance to win.
Valve’s main competitor, Riot Games have a totally different approach to how they conduct their professional esports and the developer’s heart is right at the very core of all of its competitions. League of Legends has various leagues scattered over the globe and two huge international tournaments, annually.
- 284,396,871 Watched Hours
For years Dota 2 has been revered as Valve’s crowning jewel of competitive esports titles, but as of 2019 – this is no longer the case. Over the course of the year, CS:GO has managed to overtake the MOBA by the same developer, accruing an impressive 284 million hours watched.
This feat is largely down a complete switch up from the system Counter-Strike: Global Offensive had been previously using and instead of having one main championship, 2019 saw the rise of many competitions being held all across the world. This has certainly contributed towards helping the game staying relevant but also allows local, smaller scale competitions to thrive. Over the course of 2019, for the first time ever CS:GO held twice as many leagues and tournaments than both League of Legends and Dota 2.
Earlier on, in 2019, the IEM Katowice Major brought some hefty viewing numbers, which in turn then handed the baton onto StarLadder Major Berlin which helped carry CS:GO into second place. For the first time ever recorded, the Polish tournament pipped it’s German counterpart in popularity.
1. League of Legends
- 478,794,474 Watched Hours
The most popular esport of 2019, was non other than League of Legends. This hugely popular Riot Games title from 2009 has earned itself the prize of 1st place in spectacular fashion. Over the course of 2019, League of Legends managed to tally a whopping 478 million hours watched, 68% more than its closest competitor, CS:GO.
If it was ever in doubt, LoL has put the question to rest by noisily addressing anyone who thought the game’s viewing figures were going to be anything short of impressive. Riot Games hosted leagues all over the world, which has been a determining factor in the huge success of the game throughout last year. Competitions like LCS and LEC in the West and LPL and LCK for the east have both garnered thousands of new viewers, as well as catering to millions of existing fans.
In its peak, League of Legends had 4 million viewers, which was thanks to only the semi-final of the Lol World Championship. These were recorded in a bout between the 2 hottest teams on the planet: G2 Esports and SK Telecom T1. What’s more groundbreaking is that these figures are the largest for any esport competiton. Period. Even the Youtube highlights have millions of combined views.
Last year sparked a new leap for European League of Legends teams, with the brand new league, LEC, making its first appearance. For the first half of the year, nothing was out of the ordinary, until the summer finals came along and peaked at 841,000 viewers. Fans from America were disappointed by the introduction of the new kid on the block, but if anything this solidified the EU vs. NA rivalry now, more than ever before.