Last year was a great year for eSports gaming, and there were various records broken throughout. People also spent a lot of time watching the tournaments unfold in front of their eyes, and this has led to us finding out which the most popular eSports of 2019 were. Some of these titles have been streamed for hours upon hours by fans.
Our collection of the most popular eSports games of 2019 looks most primarily at the number of hours watched on Twitch.tv, so Chinese platforms won’t contribute anything towards the final figures displayed here.
A vast increase in newcomers to the online eSports sphere has been witnessed throughout 2019, and this has flooded over to 2020. Now, players and fans alike are finding themselves quite enamoured by the capability of watching their favourite streamers, teams and specific players battle it in various games. A big interest has been witnessed in the autobattler field, more specifically. Battle royale games continue to garner a lot of interest as well, although the viewing method has shifted across to mobile devices. In some cases, the mobile versions of such have outranked their PC or console counterparts, surprisingly.
So, let’s take a look at the very best eSports of 2019. Here are the top 5:
As a mobile game, Arena of Valor had quite the exceptional 2019. Even though it is at the bottom of this list of the most popular, it actually stands out as being the most viewed mobile game in the world. That’s an exceptional accomplishment to have to your name. Should Chinese viewership have also been taken into consideration here, then there’s a likelihood that Arena of Valor would be higher up than fifth place. It’s found great levels of success in the Asian market, with the World Cup 2019 being the biggest contributor to its viewing hours.
While Arena of Valor doesn’t have a huge number of tournaments held each year, it is the exceptional quality of the game that has helped it achieve this position. Therefore, it’s hardly a surprise that it became the most popular mobile game of 2019.
This team-based shooter from 2016 created by Blizzard has managed to secure itself a position on the list, even though it had quite a rocky last year. Despite this, it has managed to rank fourth place due to the 81 million views it has obtained via Twitch. The second season of Overwatch hasn’t actually been as popular with fans as the debut of the game was, but this could be due to the fact that isn’t so diverse. This naturally has come as quite a let-down for Blizzard.
That being said, it is said that the developer has a lot in store going forward, and 2020 has seen some of these changes and introductions come into effect. For example, Overwatch 2 was announced at the Blizzcon event during 2019. As it happens though, the game wasn’t gaining any sort of traction until autumn time, which is when the Overwatch League Season 2 Playoffs started taking place. They ran from August through to September. Additionally, Blizzcon was the host of the national Overwatch team battles, where Korea lost out to the USA for the first time in history.
Valve’s Dota 2 may not have had its best year so far in 2019, but that didn’t stop it from ranking third. This is because it still managed to garner a huge 282 million views over the course of the year. That success has already spilled over into the 2020 period as well, and it only lost out on a second-place ranking by a couple of million hours.
The International provided most of the viewing hours for Dota 2, which is of little surprise. This top-flight tournament actually accounted for more than 31% of the total accumulated viewership towards its 2019 statistics. When it came to other tournaments taking place, the EPICENTER Major of the year brought in 6% of views altogether. ESL One Birmingham proved to be the most popular event though, and this isn’t even part of DPC, but contributed 3.4% of viewing hours towards Dota 2’s 2019 figures.
When compared with 2018 though, Dota 2 viewership was still in decline. The only competition that revealed any sort of growth is the aforementioned International. It’s thought that the lower viewing figures of Dota 2 from 2019 helped to contribute towards the increase in such watching hours for its closest rivals.
The top 3 eSports are very much steaming ahead of their peers, though. You only need to compare the viewing figures between Dota 2 and Overwatch to understand this. But why is there such a difference between 3rd and 4th place? Well, Valve games still receive support from third parties, and this is not likely to change in the future, either. It’s a huge factor in the lifespan of several eSports games.
The main competitor for Valve is Riot Games, and they have a completely different approach to conducting their professional eSports. League of Legends for example, has a variety of leagues scattered all over the globe, as well as two huge international tournaments taking place each year.
It was the case for many years that Dota 2 was looked upon as being Valve’s crown jewel when it came to competitive eSports. However, as of 2019, it has been overtaken by the thrills and spills of CS:GO. Managing to accrue 2 million more views of its competitions last year than Dota 2, CS:GO has firmly cemented itself as the new head of the company.
This could actually be due to the fact that CS:GO went through quite the switch up for 2019, introducing a new system. Instead of providing one main championship, there were many competitions in action in 2019 all over the world. Doubtless, this has contributed towards the success rate of the game for last year, allowing for much more local and smaller scale competitions to get a leg up. For the first time ever in 2019, CS:GO had twice as many leagues and tournaments in operation as Dota 2 and League of Legends.
It was earlier on in 2019 that the IEM Katowice Major witnessed some wonderfully boosted viewing figures, and these in turn passed the baton to the StarLadder Major Berlin event. It was these competitions that led the way for CS:GO to overtake Dota 2 and steam ahead into second place in this year’s rankings. Additionally, it was the first time that the Polish tournament outranked the German one in terms of popularity.
Clearly, League of Legends had minimal competition from Dota 2 and CS:GO, considering the number of hours streamed in 2019. The popular Riot Games title, which was originally launched back in 2009, has certainly earned its first-place finish, though. In 2019, it managed to rack up 478 million views, which is 68% more than the aforementioned CS:GO title.
Anyone who thought the game’s viewing figures would be less than impressive in 2019 has definitely been silenced. The Riot Games brand proceeded to host leagues all over the globe, and this has doubtless been a determining factor in its massive success rate. With competition like the LCS and LEC in the West taking place, as well as the LPL and LCK occurring in the East, these tournaments have attracted masses of new viewers whilst catering to regular fans, too.
At its peak, the League of Legends game had 4 million viewers tuning in, and this was thanks to the semi-final of the game’s World Championship. The two greatest game teams on the planet – G2 eSports and SK Telecom T1 – duked it out in this round. And what’s even more surprising is that those figures are the largest ever witnessed for any eSports competition before. Even highlights shown on YouTube have millions of combined views already, making them just as impressive.
European League of Legends teams also experienced quite the leap in 2019, thanks to the introduction of the brand new LEC league. In the first half of the year, everything was quite normal for it. However, once summer came around, the LEC peaked at 841,000 viewers. And while this new introduction disappointed fans from the United States, it actually helped to solidify the Europe versus North America rivalry. This is certain to continue being a focal point in the future for League of Legends, too.