2018 was a banner year for CS:GO, and it seemed like 2019 would be more than ready to build on the strengths of the third-party circuit. However, the fragmentation of the top teams and the BLAST-related attendance issues somewhat overshadowed many of the prestigious competitions. But how did this impact the viewership of the different events? Have a look:
There's nothing like the major - Even if it's no TI, the Katowice major is still head and shoulders above everything else in the scene, dwarfing even the closest of competitors. Even with ENCE's Cinderella run leading to a fairly one-sided final, the tournament easily peaked above one million concurrent viewers.
BLAST hacked the system - Love or hate what they're doing, the viewer numbers are extremely impressive from the BLAST events, and they've introduced some very shrewd ideas from a live event/logistical standpoint. (Of course, having three streams on at the same time will inevitably lead to somewhat inflated viewing numbers as many fans will likely try to follow multiple games at once.) This calendar also shows how the BLAST events really were strategically placed around key points in the calendar, book-ending the StarSeries Season 7 finals and dropping in right after IEM Sydney as well.
Prize pool helps the smaller events - Despite the comparatively higher prestige of the DreamHack Open Tours attendants, the event failed to achieve significant viewership even in comparison to other, less meaningful LAN events. The relatively high numbers of WESG 2018 and the mess that was iBUYPOWER Masters IV seems to indicate that having more money on the line makes things more interesting by itself for a certain portion of the audience. Of course, having good teams and a chunk of cash to play for works the best, as evidenced by the ELEAGUE Invitational, which managed to pull a lot of viewers despite the vastly inferior teams in attendance compared to last year's edition.
ESL's sitting pretty - With the Pro League already hitting over 50 000 concurrent viewers on the first day of the group stage and ESL One Cologne looking more stacked than ever (both objectively and in comparison with other non-major events), the company seems poised for a strong summer from a broadcasting perspective. (Addendum: The ESL One Pro League Season 9 Finals peaked at 422 590 viewers, which made it by far the most-watched event by this metric in 2019 so far apart from the major.)
Do you agree with these observations? Anything else worth pointing out? Let us know at @RivalryGLHF on Twitter!