Esports Viewership Breakdown: February 2023
Image credit: Esports Insider
Each month Esports Insider, in collaboration with Esports Charts, delves into esports viewership statistics to decipher what audiences are currently watching.
The month of February in esports was jampacked with international showcases, split-ending spectaculars and stark reminders that Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is not only a mobile powerhouse but an esports viewership goliath as well.
LCK momentum continues as LEC Winter Split records mixed success
Finishing fourth and fifth place on Esports Charts’ peak viewership list are League of Legends’ LCK Spring 2023 (715,476) and LEC Winter 2023 (572,257), respectively.
Starting with Riot Games’ Korean league, despite not reaching its conclusion until mid-March, the competition has continued to secure consistent viewership this year. With an average concurrent viewership of 200,387 the 2023 Spring split is 40,000 under its 2022 edition, however, the league has yet to reach the playoffs.
As of right now, reaching the LCK’s highest peak viewership figure of 1.3m, which was recorded at last year’s Spring Split, seems like a difficult task. However, a similar figure could be achieved if interest in the competition continues into the latter stages.
Image credit: Esports Charts
In Europe, the LEC’s inaugural Winter Split recorded the second-lowest peak viewership for a LEC split ever. However, this statistic only tells part of the story. Despite the drop in peak viewership, LEC Winter 2023 recorded an impressive average viewership of 280,218, up from Spring 2022’s 270,749.
As a result, only LEC Spring 2021 recorded a higher average viewership (309,951). Due to the LEC season now having three splits instead of two, LEC Winter’s air time was also significantly lower than last year’s Spring competition — 95 hours compared to over 130 hours.
Overall, these figures do highlight that the new ecosystem changes have actually helped retain audiences, albeit at the cost of peak viewership. Discussions regarding LEC’s Winter statistics also led to Maximilian Peter Schmidt, Riot Games’ Director of League of Legends Esports in EMEA, taking to Twitter to highlight why the figures are positive.
IEM Katowice records disappointing viewership
Whilst there are positive developments for Riot Games’ MOBA, the same sadly cannot be said for one of Valves’ flagship CS:GO competitions.
Garnering a peak viewership of 712,534, IEM Katowice delivered an unexpectedly lower peak viewership. In comparison IEM Katowice 2022 recorded a peak viewership of over 1.1m. What’s interesting is that this drop in interest is certainly not due to a waning player base, with CS:GO breaking its all-time concurrent online player record on February 11th (1.3m).
Image credit: Esports Charts
One major positive is that in terms of English-speaking audiences, IEM Katowice 2023 was the most popular competition in February, recording 443,123 peak viewers. This beat out notable competitions such as the Call of Duty League 2023: Stage 2 Major (300,277) and ALGS 2023 Split 1 Playoffs (244,728), the later of which took place in London.
Overall, IEM Katowice 2023 is the 7th most popular IEM event and the fourth highest IEM to take place in the Polish city. With 2022 recording impressive figures, but also 2019’s edition garnering 596,585 peak viewers, it’ll be interesting to see where IEM Katowice’s 2024 figures will land.
VCT LOCK//IN shows promising signs for VALORANT’s new ecosystem
Image credit: Esports Charts
As VALORANT enters the next stage in its esports evolution, VCT LOCK//IN’s peak viewership figure of 883,006 in February provided some assurances and optimism regarding the title’s competitive future.
This optimism was actually boosted even more during VCT LOCK//IN’s conclusion in March, which went on to become the second most popular VALORANT esports event in the title’s history (1.4m). As a result, it’s highly likely that next month’s list will feature the FPS shooter. For those interested in LOCK//IN’s statistics in February, the tournament’s most popular match-up was unsurprisingly LOUD’s clash with North American esports organisation NRG on Day 6 of the tournament.
Mobile Legends Bang Bang takes the top spot once again
Finishing top of the list for the second month in a row is Mobile Legends Bang Bang, however, in February it was due to the mobile title’s regional competition — not its World Championship.
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Within the mobile space, MPL Indonesia is highly regarded as one of the biggest regional leagues in the world and its historical viewership highlights that. Despite the competition yet to reach its conclusion, MPL Indonesia Season 11 amassed a peak viewership of 1.8m last month alone. This figure was recorded due to two of the league’s most popular organisations — EVOS and RRQ — facing off in the regular season, meaning that there is a high chance that this number could rise if the two teams square off in the latter stages.
So far, the competition has recorded three match-ups that have crossed the 1m peak viewership mark. However, the competition still has a mountain to climb if it wants to beat MPL Indonesia’s all-time viewership record of 2.84m, which was garnered last year in Season 9.
What to expect in March?
March could turn out to be an interesting week for esports viewership fanatics. Not only will the LEC commence its second split of the season, but other major League of Legends competitions (and Mobile Legends Bang Bang) will be reaching the end of their current seasons. Moreover, VALORANT’s VCT International Leagues will make their long-awaited debut in March, so it’ll be intriguing to see how all three leagues (EMEA, Americas and Pacific) perform.
Tom has been part of Esports Insider’s team since October 2020 and is currently the platform’s Editor. When not playing Football Manager, he enjoys reporting on the mobile esports scene as well as the betting sector.