Riot Games’ League of Legends continued its dominance of The Esports Observer’s PC Games Impact Index in the last three months of 2019. During this period, only one other game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which draws its strength from a consistent esports circuit and the viewership it generates, joined League of Legends as a tier 1 game. Several games that had a big impact on the esports ecosystem throughout the previous quarters lost their rank on the Impact Index due to a lack of esports competitions and the Twitch viewership that comes with those.
This seasonality of esports competition is reflected in The Esports Observer’s PC Games Impact Index for the fourth quarter of 2019. For a detailed breakdown of the key performance indicators that determine a game’s index score, click here to review 2018’s initial Impact Index report.
Crowing of a Champion
Riot Games’ multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) League of Legends continues to be the game with the largest active player base in our index. Furthermore, it dominated hours watched on Twitch during Q4 2019 at 271M hours watched, resulting in the game topping the Impact Index once more.
The year’s final quarter was once more host to the culmination of the yearly League of Legends competitive schedule with the 2019 World Championship taking place from Oct. 2, to Nov. 10, 2019, in Berlin, Madrid, and Paris. In front of a 20,000+ live audience, Chinese team FunPlus Phoenix claimed the 2019 World Champion title and won a 37.5% stake ($834K USD) of the tournaments $2.3M prize pool.
During the finals, Riot Games’ primary Twitch channel reached 674K max concurrent viewers (CCV), with more viewers tuning in across alternate language channels as well as other platforms such as YouTube. Riot Games reported that the match between European competitor G2 Esports and FunPlus Phoenix, reached 21.8M global average-minute-audience (AMA), peaking at 44M concurrent viewers.
Consistency is the Key
During Q4, 22.7% of all esports tournaments held were Counter-Strike: Global Offensive events. That’s 181 tournaments, more than any other esports title in the quarter. As the year drew to a close, so did several longer-format Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competitions, including the $500K prize pool StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 8, the $500K prize pool 2019 BLAST Pro Series: Global Final 2019, and the $600K ESL Pro League Season 10 – Finals.
The ESL Pro League Finals, which were won by the German esports organization mousesports, generated 4.47M hours watched on ESL’s main Twitch channel for Counter-Strike competition, peaking at 197K max concurrent viewers (CCV) during the finals. The league generated an AMA of 52K, up 38.94% over Season 9, which took place earlier this year.
Additionally, several shorter events were carried out during the quarter, such as the $250K prize pool DreamHack Masters Malmö, which was won by British team Fnatic. The top two channels broadcasting the competition on Twitch produced 3.88M and 1.17M hours watched, respectively. Furthermore, EPICENTER 2019 paid out a prize pool of $500K, of which the winner’s share went to French Team Vitality.
The International Afterlife
While the Valve-organized and most important tournament in the yearly Dota 2 esports circuit, The International, happened during Q3, a couple of major tournaments kept the game relevant during Q4. Beyond the Summit organized the DOTA Summit 11 in Los Angeles, which was won by Invictus Gaming.
Also during Q4, the $1M prize pool MDL Chengdu Major, which was the tenth issue of Mars Media’s flagship tournament, took place. The competition, which included British sports car manufacturer McLaren as a sponsor, was won by the Philippines team TNC Predator. For Dota 2, the English and Russian broadcasts are typically the most viewed channels of the game’s tournaments on Twitch. In this case, the English stream generated 3.04M hours watched, with the Russian channel in second place at 2.34M.
Battle Royale – There Can Only be One Winner
The highest total amount of cumulated prize pools was put together for PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, with a total of $7.1M in winnings distributed during the period. The biggest event was the $4M prize pool PUBG Global Championship 2019, which was held in Oakland and Los Angeles. The South Korean organization Gen.G won the championship. Due to the fact that several major esports title’s competitions were already in their off-season, PUBG climbed four positions in the Impact Index.
In the last quarter of 2019, Epic Games organized only one major competition for its lead esports game, Fortnite, which led to a decline in the game’s impact on the esports ecosystem, losing three positions on the Impact Index. The Fortnite Winter Royale took place from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22 and offered a $15M prize pool – in comparison, the same tournament last year featured a prize pool of just $1M.
Rocket League, Hearthstone, Rainbow Six Siege, and World of Warcraft – The Midfield
Just as PUBG, Psyonix-developed Rocket League climbed four slots on the Impact Index as some of the game’s most important esports events were held during the period. First, the regional NA and EU Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) came to a close, awarding a total prize pool of $214K each. Team NRG won the North American edition, while Team Reciprocity won the European edition. The regional competitions lead into the $530K prize pool RLCS Global Finals in Madrid, which was topped by North American champion NRG.
During Blizzard Entertainment’s BlizzCon 2019, a first in the history of the competition was recorded, when Chinese competitor Xiaomeng “Liooon” Li won the $500K prize pool Hearthstone GrandMasters 2019 Global Finals, becoming the first woman to win a major BlizzCon competition.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege had its largest esports competition of the quarter in Tokoname, Japan. The Pro League Season 10 – Finals organized by ESL distributed a total prize pool of $290K, of which the winner’s share went to Ukrainian squad Natus Vincere.
Also at BlizzCon 2019 in Anaheim, the $330K prize pool World of Warcraft Arena World Championship 2019 took place. Partially due to the tournament and solid viewership on Twitch, the game rose three positions in the Impact Index compared to the previous quarter.
Offseason Lows and a First for a Fighting Game
The ranks 10 to 15 on the Q4 2019 Impact Index were taken by Overwatch, StarCraft II, FIFA 20, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Magic: The Gathering Arena, and Tekken 7, in that order.
As Blizzard’s Overwatch League (OWL) was already in its off-season in Q4, the $250K prize pool feeder series, Overwatch Contenders 2019: The Gauntlet, was the game’s biggest tournament during the period, resulting in Overwatch dropping five places on the Impact Index.
Esports staple StarCraft II had its biggest prize pool at the StarCraft 2019 WCS Global Finals during BlizzCon 2019. The winner, Korean Park “Dark” Ryung Woo, took home the champion’s stake of the tournament’s $700K prize pool. Furthermore, a unique tournament took place with the HomeStory Cup XX during Q4. Shopify founder Tobi Lütke doubled the tournament’s prize pool to $53K during the event, which was won by Finish player Joona “Serral” Sotala.
EA Sports’ soccer simulation game FIFA 20, which was released at the end of September, experienced strong viewership on Twitch and profited from regional events often attached to national soccer leagues such as the Danish eSuperliga Season 3 run by DreamHack.
While there has not been a major tournament for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which was released in October, the game’s viewership following its release carried the title onto the ranking in its first quarter on the market. Viewership numbers for the first two weeks were 12M hours watched per week on Twitch.
Magic: The Gathering Arena, the online game adaptation of the popular card game Magic: The Gathering, saw a total of $2M distributed through three editions of the Mythic Championship, the fifth, sixth, and seventh edition of the format. The most recent Arena competition, Mythic Championship VII, was one of the most-viewed Magic events of the year, generating 1.37M hours watched with a max CCV of 100.08K. This was the fourth-highest peak viewership for a Magic competition in 2019.
By climbing two spots on the Impact Index, the fighting game Tekken 7 became the first game of its genre to secure a top 15 spot. A large contributor to this improvement was the $250K prize pool Tekken 7: TEKKEN World Tour Finals 2019 in Bangkok organized by Bandai Namco Entertainment.
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