There’s a perception in certain parts of the gaming space that the success of Teamfight Tactics has pulled viewership away from League of Legends. We dove into the numbers to find out the truth.

Riot Games is absolutely dominating the auto battler genre on Twitch. After the initial success of Auto Chess, the developer’s own entry into the space, Teamfight Tactics, first released into the League of Legends Public Beta Environment on June 16th. The auto battler quickly rose to the top of the streaming charts, becoming the top ranked game on the platform for the first time in only two days. Since its full public release on June 25th, it’s been the fourth most watched game on Twitch overall.

Teamfight Tactics is unambiguously a League of Legends universe title. The teams of characters you assemble and place to compete in Riot’s auto battler are all champions from the latter MOBA, much in the same way that the original Auto Chess mod and then Dota Underlords leverage the Dota 2 IP. That relationship between the original titles and their auto battler offspring extends to the manner in which they become available, with Tactics and Underlords first becoming playable from within the game launchers of LoL and Dota2, respectively. The result is that, from the outside, it seems as if the communities of each game, the original MOBAs and the newer auto battlers, are one and the same. Which begs the question: is the success of Teamfight Tactics hurting League of Legends?

We wanted to know just how the release of TFT has impacted Riot’s overall success on Twitch, so we crunched the numbers. Let’s take a look at the result.

Change in Riot Viewership

Above, you can see Riot’s total Twitch viewership since the beginning of the year. For our purposes, “total Twitch Viewership” is simply League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics viewership combined. This number is represented by the red line in the graph above, with the former title separated out in blue, and the latter in orange.

Since the release of Teamfight Tactics within the League of Legends Public Beta Environment on June 16th through July 24th, Riot’s total Twitch viewership increased by 36.9% compared to LoL’s average viewership over the year leading up to that point, meaning that over a third of their audience members were, on average, watching something else, or nothing at all, prior to the new title hitting the platform. So, overall, the answer to whether the release of TFT has increased the publisher’s overall Twitch presence is a resounding ‘yes.’ But that, of course, doesn’t tell the whole story.

Change in League of Legends Viewership

From the beginning of the year through June 18th, League of Legends averaged over 3.2 million hours of viewership a day. From that point through July 25th, that number fell to just above 2.2 million hours, a decrease of 32.67%.

It’s interesting to note the fluctuations in the graph above. The two titles are constantly switching positions, with one typically rising as the other falls, and while those increases and decreases in viewership can be quite extreme, Riot’s overall viewership remains much more stable, comparatively. This indicates a real relationship between the games wherein they share significant viewership, and many audience members are directly moving from one game to the other, back and forth.

It’s also important to note that League of Legends remains, on average, one of the top three games in streaming almost every week, so while a one-third decrease in viewership is indeed significant, the title’s community isn’t in any sort of critical danger. And, really, for a better look at how these two communities interact, we don’t just need to look at viewers…

Top League of Legends Streamers

We took a look at the top 50 performing streamers for League of Legend prior to Teamfight Tactics being released to see how the latter impacted them and what they were playing. Of that 50, only five haven’t streamed TFT at all – including LoL's biggest streamer, loltyler1. Eighteen of those creators have averaged more time streaming TFT than LoL, leaving 32 creators, such as Scarra and Rakin, that remain primarily League of Legends players. That means that 36% of League’s top streamers have transitioned into primarily playing Riot’s auto battler.

Top Teamfight Tactics Streamers

So, where are the top creators for Teamfight Tactics coming from? Indeed, there are more former LoL streamers among the top 50, but they comprise only 38% of that list. The rest is made up of pure variety streamers, Hearthstone players, and auto chess competitors.

Auto Chess is the most interesting of the bunch, as, if you look at the top 50 creators playing that game prior to the release of TFT, you’ll find that 27 of them, more than half, have now transitioned into primarily streaming the latter (including dingception, itsHafu, and Becca). Importantly, Auto Chess has undergone a transition of its own, focusing on its own original mobile title as the other developers have all come to the party with their own PC auto battlers. That’s why, beyond the additional former top creators for the game that have moved on to Dota 2 or Dota Underlords, only three of the original top 50 creators remain as Auto Chess streamers.

Thirteen of the top 50 Teamfight Tactics creators, such as dogdog and TidesofTime, are former top contributors for Auto Chess, which really drives home just how much that community has taken to the newer title from Riot Games. The development of the myriad auto battlers now on the PC market was an attempt by every major player in the game to capture Auto Chess’s audience, knowing that the game mod built within Dota 2 would only be the beginning for the new genre. In that context, Riot’s ability to capture so much of that community under its new umbrella is one of the more impressive signs of success for their game and its community.

Conclusions

We began by asking the question as to whether the success of Teamfight Tactics has been a net positive for Riot Games, given its impact on the rest of the streaming space, and the answer has to be an emphatic yes. League has lost viewership, and some streamers have transitioned away from it as their primary title, but those reductions are far outweighed by the gains Teamfight Tactics has made. What’s more, while the latter has pulled top creators from League of Legends, it has also drawn in large numbers of streamers who were playing non-Riot titles, like Auto Chess, Hearthstone, and others. All of this together paints a picture of a developer/publisher reaching new heights on Twitch, with only more room to grow and succeed.


For a complete breakdown of the most watched leagues, tournaments, and competitions on Twitch in the month of June, click here, and be sure to check out this week's #Top5OnTwitch. Also follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for all the latest blogs, announcements, and game marketing news from the team at GAMESIGHT!

Data pulls and reporting performed by Tim Smith on July 24, 2019