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StarLadder helped Counter-Strike: Global Offensive generate 41.3M hours watched on Twitch from Aug. 23-Sept. 8 while the tournament organizer was hosting its first-ever “Major” tournament for developer Valve’s first-person shooting game.
While those hours watched totals are lower than what the game produced last year during 2018’s fall Major (56M) hosted by FACEIT in London, this year’s fall Major in Berlin was played across two fewer calendar days, making a direct year-over-year connection difficult to pinpoint.
That’s not the only place where viewership for CS:GO was down from last year though. One of the most important parts of viewership during a Major is the peak and average viewership during the final week of action and the grand finale.
In 2018, the FACEIT’s London Major helped CS:GO reach 13.1M hours watched during the last four days of competition for the “New Champions” stage, with the FACEIT Twitch channel reaching a peak of 510K concurrent viewers during the grand finale. FACEIT was also a first-time CS:GO Major host.
This year, StarLadder’s Berlin Major assisted CS:GO in recording 10.1M hours watched from Thursday through Sunday last week. StarLadder’s English-language channel peaked at 341K during the finals on Sunday.
Making comparisons between different Major tournament organizers’ Twitch viewership can be seen as imperfect because each organizer typically has its own unique partnerships regarding live broadcasts. Recent Majors have been aired on YouTube, Facebook, and even Valve’s game client Steam, which allows gamers to watch while they play CS:GO themselves, but each of the Majors during the past two years have had notable viewership on Twitch as well.
Due to Twitch’s position as perhaps the most high-profile gaming endemic platform dedicated to streaming, using Twitch’s audience statistics can provide insight on viewership trends during some of esports’ premier tournaments like CS:GO Majors.
On the Stage
StarLadder is no stranger to hosting CS:GO tournaments. Since 2012, the organizer has organized a number of events including numerous StarLadder ProSeries and StarLadder StarSeries tournaments. However, none of those events holds the same weight as a Major making it impossible to compare viewership from any of them with this past month’s tournament.
In terms of viewership across the three different stages of a Major, the Berlin Major showed the same sort of spread that has become commonplace for CS:GO Majors. The first stage, which is typically comprised of less competitive teams vying to qualify for a spot in the next stage, had the least viewership for it across the board.
Over the course of the first stage in Berlin, which lasted four days, CS:GO had 10.6M hours watched. During that time frame, the main broadcast by StarLadder had 3.7M hours watched with an average of 45K CCV.
The second stage, referred to as the “New Legends” stage, is often known to produce the biggest hours watched total of all the three stages. The Berlin Major was no exception to that trend with CS:GO generating 16.7M hours watched during the five-day stage. The main Twitch broadcast for the tournament led all CS:GO channels with an average of 62K CCV and 6.6M hours watched during that time.
The New Champions stage, which serves as the grand finale, wasn’t the most-watched, but as is frequently the case, it provided StarLadder’s main broadcast the highest average viewership of 81K CCV and peak of 341K. The reason the final stage of play isn’t typically the most-watched overall is strictly due to the amount of airtime required for it.
The first two stages of play in a CS:GO Major consist of 16 teams playing in a Swiss format. However the final stage is just eight teams playing in the highly intense environment of a single-elimination bracket. For the Berlin Major, this formatting meant that StarLadder’s broadcast was live for 100 hours in the New Legends stage, almost twice as much as it was during the New Champions stage (54.6 hours of airtime).
CS:GO doesn’t have quite the same level of Russian-language viewers on Twitch proportionately that Dota 2 does. However, with a CIS organization (StarLadder) running the Berlin Major and AVANGAR, a CIS-based team, making the finals, Russian-language viewership for the tournament on Twitch was notable.
Though the channel wasn’t able to generate nearly the same level of viewership as the main English-language channel, Russian-language coverage peaked at 170K during the finals with an average of 117K CCV, and across the three-week span, it produced 6.1M hours watched. Including Russian-language viewership, the entirety of the Major eclipsed the 20M hours watched mark with 21.3M hours watched.
Staring Down the Barrel
As for the decline in overall hours watched from last year’s fall Major, a few key issues regarding scheduling for the tournament could have played a role in CS:GO seeing less viewership this year during the Berlin Major.
Starting a few weeks earlier than FACEIT’s Major last year, the first week of StarLadder’s tournament competed on Twitch with the main event of The International, Dota 2’s premier yearly tournament. Additionally, last year’s second Major didn’t have to go up against a major content release. This year, CS:GO esports had to try to pull viewers’ attention away from the launch of World of Warcraft Classic, which set records for WoW on Twitch.
StarLadder’s Berlin Major was by no means a slouch of an event in terms of viewership on Twitch. The main channel for coverage of the event produced the most hours watched on Twitch from Aug. 26-Sept. 8, and it had two channels in the top 10 during that time frame. However, with the timing of the tournament overlapping with other big events, it may not have reached its full potential.
Dates for CS:GO Majors are determined a significant time ahead of the event’s execution, making it difficult, or even impossible, to account for absolutely any competition that could hinder the event’s ability to reach a maximum number of viewers.
If there’s one thing that could be taken away from viewership of the Berlin Major, it’s that CS:GO Majors have enough weight to generate an audience despite conflicting events. But at the same time, Majors are not immune to being at least slightly diluted from unfortunate scheduling circumstances.
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