For four years, the Kyiv Major 2017 stood tall, unchallenged, as the most viewed Dota 2 Major as it garnered 842,585 peak viewers. It’s a surprise that even during the height of the pandemic, when the world switched to online consumption of (e)sport, entertainment among other things, this figure stood unchallenged.
Then suddenly last week, for a while, this record was on the rocks. The PGL Arlington Major was keenly contesting for the title. It was going for gold. The ratings shot through the roof, the viewership soaring high like its winner Team Spirit, before settling for second position.
It recorded a mighty impressive peak viewership of 708,259 – no mean feat. The tournament also recorded an average concurrent viewership of over 305,000. Understandably, the final between Team Spirit and PSG LGD was the most popular match of the tournament, followed by TS’s clash against Aster. OG vs Beastcoast came a close third with a peak viewership of 566,000 fans.
Impressive Viewership Stats
This spike in viewership isn’t a one-off. It’s been building for a while. Six of the ten-most viewed Dota 2 events have come in the last two years. This point to a recent surge in interest levels and viewership, largely spurred by increasing competition, developing of fierce rivalries, within regions and outside, driven by unmatched skill sets and unreal temperament players making a career out of Dota 2 have brought to the fore.
It’s not hard to imagine Team Spirit was the most viewed team, followed by PSG LGD, OG and Team Aster. The Chinese belt accounts for a large surge in viewership. Intense competition for places, a fan base that is ever-evolving and one that is divided among several teams – all top notch owing to the culture of esports in the region – is one of the biggest factors for this development. In addition to Chinese domination, Russia accounted for nearly 370,000 people who tuned in diligently and unfailingly.
The same level of interest wasn’t seen in the first Major of the year at Stockholm, possibly because the sport was testing its waters once again as it resumed full-fledged post the pandemic. All said, Stockholm still garnered decent viewership to be the fifth most popular event – outside The International – with a peak viewership of 589,021. But Arlington had an allure to it, because it was also the last Major of the 2021-2022 Pro Circuit, which is set to conclude with The International in Singapore in October, Dota 2’s premier global tournament.
Post-Pandemic Esports Surge
It’s clearly been a case of absence making the heart grow fonder. At a time when sports across the world are struggling for relevance because of the mushrooming of several tournaments that dilute quality, the Dota 2 Majors continue to remain the pinnacle of the sport.
Now that the viewership is once again in focus, all eyes will be on The International’s 2022 edition. If last year was anything to go by, this year promises to be even bigger. The 2021 final between Spirit and PSG LGD peaked at more than 2.7 million viewers to set a new TI record. It marked a 37% jump from their viewership in 2019, when it recorded 1.9 million peak when OG were in an intense tussle with Team Liquid. Singapore could shatter a few records along the way.