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Summer was host to some of the biggest esports tournaments to date, in terms of prize pools and viewership. Several leagues organized by developers such as Riot Games’ regional League of Legends leagues as well as Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League and Call of Duty Pro League concluded during July, August, and September. Furthermore, the two largest prize pools in esports were on the line at the Fortnite World Cup in July and Dota 2’s The International in August.
This seasonality of esports competition is reflected in The Esports Observer’s PC Games Impact Index for the third quarter of 2019. For a detailed breakdown of the key performance indicators that determine a game’s index score, click here to review last year’s initial Impact Index report.
Most Players + Large Competitive Infrastructure = Rank 1
Riot Games’ League of Legends claimed the quarterly TEO PC Games Impact Index’s first rank for the second consecutive time. League of Legends continues to be the most played game on PC by a large margin. Throughout the third quarter of 2019, all major League of Legends official regional leagues including the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), North American League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), the Chinese League of Legends Pro League (LPL), and the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) concluded. Coverage for the LEC and LCS summer split on the developer’s official Twitch channel was 33.1M hours watched from June 1 to Sept. 15, up from 29M for the same season in the previous year.
A World Cup and $49.46M in Winnings
The Fortnite World Cup briefly became the highest prize pool esports tournament when it paid out $30M in July. Epic Games reached 4.4M hours watched during its 26 hours of airtime covering the Fortnite World Cup, taking place in New York’s Arthur Ashe stadium, on its official Twitch channel. Sixteen-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorftook took home the single largest winning stake of $3M by winning the tournaments’ “Solo” event, while the tournament distributed a total of $30M for its “Solo” and “Duo” competitions.
Over the period of the third quarter, Fortnite was the game with the highest total prize pool with $49.46M distributed during the time frame.
Valve Pocketing $130.8M, or Esports’ Largest Prize Pool
While Epic Games’ Fortnite World Cup prize pool surpassed last year’s $25.5M The International as the highest prize pool esports tournament, this year’s Dota 2 competitive highlight claimed that title back a couple of weeks later when the tournament’s $34M prize pool, of which $32.7M was raised through the game’s community contributing (25% of which was put towards the prize pool, the remaining 75% or $130.8M going into Valve’s accounts) was distributed amongst the teams participating. The winner of the tournament, OG, took home 45.5% or $15.6M of the prize pool, making it the team winning the most prize money in Q3 2019, followed by Team Liquid and Lazarus.
The tournament that serves as Dota 2’s premier yearly event, is generating some of the highest Twitch viewership each year. While the 2019 edition didn’t manage to reach the same level of viewership as it did in 2018 overall, the event’s max concurrent viewership (CCV) of 482K during the finals was higher than last year’s peak of 397K CCV. The combination of the tournament’s prize pool and viewership helped the title to improve one rank in the TEO PC Games Impact Index compared to last quarter.
Q3 Total Prize Pool of $5.56M Pushes Series Above $100M
Counter-Strike:Global Offensive’s year-around competitive calendar brought the second Valve sponsored Major Championship of the year to Berlin with the $2M StarLadder Berlin Major 2019. The Danish team Astralis won the tournament, and with it, its third Major Championship win in a row. Furthermore, the “esports cathedral,” ESL One Cologne, took place in July for the fifth year in a row and the format also made a stop in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, New York for ESL One New York.
In total, the game’s esports scene put $5.56M in total prize pool on the line during Q3 2019. Other tournament highlights in the game’s tight esports schedule were IEM Chicago, BLAST Pro Series Moscow, and BLAST Pro Series Los Angeles. Beyond the regular tournaments, the scene witnessed two special events happening. First, during ESL One Cologne Team Liquid secured the $1M Intel Grand Slam organized by ESL and DreamHack. Second, the $300K prize pool for ESL One New York pushed the Counter-Strike series’ all-time combined esports prize pools above $100M.
Blizzard’s Best Staying Put in Relevancy
The second season of Blizzard’s Overwatch League (OWL) came to a close during Q3. NRG Esports’ franchise, the San Francisco Shock, took home the championship by defeating the Vancouver Titans in the Grand Finals held in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Additionally, the seven regions of the Overwatch Contenders 2019 Season 2 came to a close, paying out a combined prize pool of $1.3M.
Blizzard’s second-highest ranked competitive esports title Hearthstone took rank six, just like in the previous period. The Masters Tour 2019 stopped in Seoul, South Korea, where French player Theo “Felkeine” Dumont took home the winner’s share of the $500K prize pool.
Realistic First-Person Shooters Battle for Market Share
The three first-person shooter games; Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG), and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4; secured rank seven to nine.
Rainbow Six Siege crowned a new Major champion at the Six Major Raleigh in Team Empire and made appearances at DreamHack Valencia and DreamHack Montreal with Rogue and Team SoloMid, respectively, coming out on top of the competition.
PUBG held its $500K Nations Cup in Seoul organized by the game’s developer, PUBG Corporation. In the tournament’s finals, Team Russia topped Team South Korea. Furthermore, the PUBG Europe League 2019 Phase 1 and Phase 2, the MET Asia Series, and the GLL Grand Slam concluded during Q3 2019.
In the Call of Duty esports scene, eUnited was crowned as champion of the $2M CWL Championship 2019. The team also became the last champion of the $1.25M CWL Pro League Finals in July before Activision Blizzard’s new franchised Call of Duty League kicks off in 2020.
Five Games Hanging in There and One Newcomer
Ranks 10 to 15 were occupied by Rocket League, StarCraft II, World of Warcraft, FIFA 19, Magic: The Gathering Arena, and Riot Games’ TeamFight Tactics.
Just like Rainbow Six Siege, Rocket League was played at DreamHack Montreal and DreamHack Valencia. The event in Montreal also featured this quarter’s highest prize pool StarCraft II competition, which was won by Finish player Joona “Serral” Sotala from Ence eSports.
Soccer simulation game FIFA 19 held its FIFA eWorld Cup in London, as well as the FIFA Global Series 2019 stops in Berlin and Hamburg before the series latest version FIFA 20 was released on Sept. 24.
The Twitch Rivals format featured both a Magic: The Gathering Arena tournament as well as a Teamfight Tactics competition during Q3 2019. After its release in the previous quarter, Teamfight Tactics made it into the Top 15 of the Impact Index for the first time, improving from rank 27 in its inaugural quarter in the index.
Esports Rising – Nov. 14 | Who Is Attending?
Esports organizations in the likes of Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, Gen G. Game developers, including Riot Games and Blizzard. Non-endemic sponsors such as adidas, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Jack in the Box and more. Sponsored by Lagardère Sports, and presented by Sports Business Journal / Daily, with support of The Esports Observer.
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