With 127 million viewers, the 2018 MSI final is the most watched esports match ever
The League of Legends 2018 Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) finals officially became the most watched esports match to date. Based on the data from Esports Charts, the Bo5 series between Kingzone DragonX (Korea) and Royal Never Give Up (China) hit a peak of 127,5 million viewers. 126,6 million of these came from China, which should indicate that LoL esports is a pretty big deal over there.
Of course, this is likely the most anticipated matchup of the tournament, as China has a historical rivalry with Korea. In fact, two of the three MSI titles were taken by the South Korean SKT T1, and the other one belonged to the Chinese EDward Gaming. With that, the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational presented a unique opportunity to even out the score, so it’s understandable why so many Chinese viewers tuned in for the event.
Still, the tournament had impressive numbers across the board. Even during the less exciting group stage games, an average of 24.5 million of viewers followed the event. The bulk of these also came from China. Of course, there’s an argument to be made that the Chinese streaming market is akin to Wild West, and many platforms over there use bots to artificially increase their numbers. But even if you account for this viewer inflation, the Chinese represent the majority of the League of Legends fans by a very, very large margin.
Another reason behind this influx of viewers is the decision of the League of Legends publisher – Riot Games – to direct the tournament schedule at Asian countries. Originally, this call sparked a lot of controversy among Western fans, as it made following the event quite difficult. In hindsight, Riot’s decision made perfect sense. League of Legends has long since become a global phenomenon, so it’s next to impossible to satisfy every single region. So, focusing on the biggest audience was probably a much better idea.
The most staggering thing is that we’re far from reaching the peak. The Mid-Season Invitational is a major tournament, but it pales in comparison to the upcoming 2018 League of Legends World Championship. In the past, the event was dominated by Koreans, but now that the Chinese had a taste of international victory, they will definitely look to challenge their biggest rivals. And even more viewers will tune in to watch the showdown unfold.
Photo Credits: Riot Games | LoL Esports