More than 2 million individuals tuned in to watch the League of Legends (LoL) championship group phase, according to ESPN Esports journalist Tyler Erzberger.
Highest peak viewership at #Worlds2019
1. SKT vs. RNG: 2.04 million
2. SKT vs. FNC: 2 million
3. CG vs. FNC: 1.59 million
4. iG vs. TL: 1.58 million
5. Griffin vs. G2: 1.55 million
— The Esports Writer (@FionnOnFire) October 13, 2019
The LoL group phase reached its peak viewership when SK Telecom T1 (SKT), the only team in League of Legends history to win two consecutive championships, went head to head against Royal Never Give Up (RNG), which finished 2nd in the LPL (China’s League of Legends League) for 2019 summer.
Esports on the rise, League of Legends expected to see high ratings
An increase in popularity, brand and television deals, League of Legends and the Esports market have seen a significant uptick in viewership in the past two years.
The successful operations of regional League of Legends leagues that include the LPL (China), LCK (South Korea), LEC (Europe), and LCS (the U.S.) with Spring and Summer seasons in conjunction with international events like the League of Legends Championship, MSI, and Rift Rivals have expanded the regular viewership of LoL.
The growing audience of League of Legends of both the game itself and professional leagues have enabled major regions like LPL and LCK to strike high profile long term deals with multi-billion dollar brands like Nike.
In 2018, the LPL signed a blockbuster $144 million deal with Nike to last for five years, supplemented by teams with big fanbases in the likes of Invictus Gaming (IG) and RNG, and popular players including RNG’s ADC Uzi, IG’s mid laner Rookie and top laner TheShy.
With the support of large brands, an established viewership, and tested distribution channels, the 2019 League of Legends Championships is anticipated to record higher ratings.
New rivalries between up-and-coming teams like LCK’s representative Damwon and teams that have dominant for many seasons such as LPL’s IG have created entertaining storylines for fans and spectators to follow.
For instance, ahead of the Damwon-IG game on October 14, the well-documented usage of Kleptomancy and unorthodox masteries by Nuguri, the top laner of Damwon, attracted the attention of fans, increasing the viewership of the first game of the 2nd day of the group phase.
Nuguri is already beating most of his klepto records 3 minutes in. Truly living for the dopamine rush. pic.twitter.com/LOn3MwTn21
— LS (@LSXYZ9) October 14, 2019
Damwon defeated IG, the League of Legends Champions of 2018, in a back-and-forth battle which saw over 200,000 viewers on the official LoL YouTube stream and over 50,000 viewers on the official LCK’s YouTube stream.
Fortnite also seeing large viewership
Earlier this week, Rod Breslau, an Esports consultant, reported that Fortnite’s “The End” event saw more than 4.5 million viewers tune in to the official YouTube stream and 1.5 million viewers on Twitch, reaching close to 7 million live viewers.
Fortnite's 'The End' event will go down as the most watched gaming event in history for western audiences
4.5M+ on YouTube
1.5M+ on Twitch
1M+ on Twitter
and 37 people on Mixer
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) October 13, 2019
As viewership rises, prize pools, player salaries, and team revenues will follow, expanding the Esports sector throughout the medium to long term, which has already seen exponential growth with the involvement of venture capital firms, traditional sports teams, and conglomerates.