On Sunday, the League of Legends World Championship hosted its Grand Final, a best of 5 series between FunPlus Phoenix of China and G2 Esports of Europe. 3,700,545 people viewed the series at its peak, an 80% increase from last year’s peak of 2,050,475 viewers. With esports becoming more and more of a rising industry, it’s becoming clear that the viewership numbers are representing just how much potential the scene actually has.
Keep in mind that these numbers exclude figures out of China, a region that has notoriously inflated viewer counts throughout esports history. A more appropriate and reasonable look at viewership numbers excludes Chinese viewers for the sake of statistical accuracy.
Regardless, even without those numbers in mind, the amount of viewers tuning into Worlds is astronomical. And with the Grand Finals nearly doubling its viewer total in just one year, it’s becoming clear that esports, specifically League, are rising in popularity at an exponential rate.
This is so much so the case that we’re even starting to see esports finally break the ceiling in regards to traditional sports, as Grand Finals averaged 2.9 million average viewers across its duration. For reference, that tops multiple MLB Postseason games from this past season, as well as several Stanley Cup Final matchups from this Summer.
If anything, numbers like these suggest that esports is finally breaking that glass ceiling and is thrusting itself as an industry into the sports world – with League of Legends at the forefront of it all.
Moving forward, it should be interesting to see how Riot capitalizes on the most successful World Championship in the game’s history. Next year, with Worlds taking place across multiple cities throughout China, there will be plenty of intrigue surrounding the region and the fact that the LPL has now won back-to-back World Championships. If FPX is able to qualify and defend the Summoner’s Cup on their own turf, the ratings for an event like that could potentially be through the roof.
Even still, League is in a really good spot right now and the viewers that Worlds reeled in are definitely proof.
Photo Credit: League of Legends, Riot Games, Lolesports