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Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice is consistently one of the most-watched tournaments each year. Organized by ESL with multiple tournaments taking place, and large prize pools on the line for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and StarCraft II ($500K USD and $250K, respectively), all eyes turned to Poland’s hub for one of esports’ biggest weekends.
This year, due to coronavirus concerns, the event’s finals weekend would go on without the large live crowd typical of IEM Katowice, but viewership on Twitch remained strong.
In addition to numerous alternate language streams, side tournament broadcasts, and additional platforms such as YouTube and Huya, IEM Katowice 2020 accounted for nearly half of last week’s top 10 channels, with the four combining for 14.44M hours watched.
The following content is ranked according to the total number of hours watched on Twitch from Monday to the following Sunday, with data compiled using TEO Access.
Twenty-Year-Old Franchise Still Going Strong
While a lopsided final bout between G2 Esports and Natus Vincere likely limited the weekend’s full potential, the three biggest broadcasts of IEM Katowice 2020’s Counter-Strike competition combined for a max concurrent viewership (CCV) of 745.6K.
The full week’s worth of competition drew strong viewership. Despite not airing the finals, ESL’s secondary CS:GO channel nearly reached the top 10 as an alternate stream during the earlier rounds of the tournament, generating 1.03M hours watched.
Valve’s esports titles are consistently able to generate strong viewership from alternate-language streams, with the Russian broadcast often surpassing the English one. In this case, the main channel remained on top, generating 6.93M hours watched.
The weekend wasn’t just big for CS:GO viewership, however. While eventual finalists G2 Esports were in a heated contest with Fnatic, the Counter-Strike playerbase broke its record for most concurrent players, reaching 933.75K.
Once the undisputed king of esports, the StarCraft series has faded somewhat from its former glory. However, IEM Katowice has remained one of its consistent bright spots each year. With ESL now overseeing operations for the game’s esports initiatives, and a significant prize pool of $250K for the event, the main broadcast of IEM Katowice’s StarCraft II competition generated 1.14M hours watched.
Last weekend, the esports world was led in viewership by two-decades-old esports franchises, one of which saw its playerbase surge in popularity. Events such IEM Katowice fly directly in the face of one of the most common concerns regarding the esports industry – that games typically have a short lifespan. This event highlights the impact that esports can have on a game’s sustainability, driving interest and engagement long after the typical cycle would have reached its conclusion.
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