Which games have the most watched eSports scenes on Twitch? Check out our rankings to find out.
Esports communities and the games they play account for a large percentage of the content consumed on Twitch. Every week, official leagues, tournaments, and competitions bring in huge viewership numbers and raise titles to the top of the Twitch charts, but figuring out just how successful a game’s competitive scene has been can be incredibly complicated. Twitch itself doesn’t distinguish between competitive and creative streams, which means all of the data regarding which esports communities are the most active on the platform is either buried deeply within streaming metrics or non-existent.
That’s why we decided to do it ourselves.
Below, you’ll find our breakdown of the top ten performing esports titles on Twitch for the month of June, 2019, along with analysis of each game’s competitive scene. Keep reading to get the complete picture of just who is rising and falling in the world of eSports.
1. League of Legends - 17.8 Million Hours eSports Viewership
The LCS Summer Split is the second stage of the League of Legends Championship Series, the game’s North American professional competitive organization, which pits franchised teams like Team Liquid and Cloud9 against each other in a double round robin format, and the top six teams then moving on to the Summer Playoffs. With matches taking place throughout the month of June, its broadcasts on the official Riot Games Twitch channels were some of the most watched eSports events on the platform that month, accounting for 8.8M of the game’s 17.7M hours of competitive viewership.
A robust ecosystem of competitors and leagues keeps League of Legends at or near the top of the Twitch charts every week, and it’s important to note that this community goes well beyond the LCS. There was an additional 9M hours of eSports viewership for the game during the month of June, and a big part of that is the consistent contributions of the LCK league, the preeminent professional competitive circuit in South Korea. As the North American Summer Split pulled in big numbers, so too did the LCK’s summer season, which began on June 5th and will continue through the middle of August. These two leagues, combined with smaller organizations and competitions, keep League of Legends one of the most watched titles on Twitch every week, and in June made it the most watched competitive scene on the platform.
2. Overwatch - 16.6 Million Hours eSports Viewership
Stage three of the Overwatch League’s 2019 season began on June sixth, and throughout the month of June emerged as the single most watched eSports event or series on Twitch, with the official OWL channel accruing 13.8M hours of viewership. Combined with the viewership for Overwatch Contenders, the Blizzard-operated professional tournament series which acts as a sort of developmental league for OWL, these numbers were enough to make Overwatch the second most watched eSport for the month, just a bit under one million hours behind League.
Of the most popular eSports leagues and tournaments in the competitive gaming space, Overwatch has most successfully captured the feel and structure of a traditional sporting event, with franchise-style teams representing specific cities populated by rosters of contracted and salaried competitors. The season’s structure, from preseason to regular season to playoffs, along with the annual holding of a division-based all-star game, and its increased presence on more traditional platforms like ESPN Plus further drive the point home that the Overwatch League wants to build a community of dedicated fans akin to those enjoyed by the NFL and other sports organizations.
This strategy has paid serious dividends, as OWL events are among the most watched in all of competitive gaming. As of this writing, the league is in the middle of the 2019 season’s playoffs, which will culminate in the grand finals on September 29th in Philadelphia. With the numbers we’ve already seen, it seems likely that Overwatch will be staying near the top of the eSports charts through the season’s end.
3. DOTA 2 - 11.4 Million Hours eSports Viewership
While Overwatch thrives within its sports-league structure, Dota 2 continues to rise to the top of the eSports pile by nature of its robust ecosystem of tournaments and events. During the month of June, the first such event was the ESL One Birmingham tournament, a $300,000 competition which held its playoffs from May 31 - June 2nd, and featured some of the most prominent teams in space, like Team Secret, Evil Geniuses, and Gambit Esports. This, combined with the closed qualifier round of the KFC Battle 2019 tournament from June 7-9, and then finally the EPICENTER Major from June 22-30, considered to be the largest LAN tournament in Russia and the year’s final chance for professional teams to qualify for the largest eSports event of the year, The International 2019.
This loose structure of tournaments and majors has supported Dota 2 as one of the preeminent eSports titles for years, with the first iteration of the aforementioned International taking place at Gamescom all the way back in 2011, and the participation of competitive organizations like ESL, Dreamhack, and others since around the same time. And, it’s a highly international community of competitors and viewers; this month, with the latter two above events taking place in Moscow, viewership was particularly high in that region, but there are events held all over the world, including ESL One tournaments in Mumbai, Poland, and Hamburg, with teams from China, Southeast Asia, and Europe. With the build up to this year’s International tournament, set to begin on August 20th, already well under way, we’re anticipating even larger numbers in the weeks and months ahead.
4. CS: GO - 7.2 Million Hours eSports Viewership
The competitive community for CS:GO shares a lot in common with that of Dota 2. Both games have been around for a long time, part of the core group of titles around which the world of eSports has come into its own, and both have done so through a dynamic and tangentially related network of tournaments and competitive events, including ESL competitions. Two such events accounted for the majority of the game’s eSports viewership for the month of June: the ESL Pro League Occitanie 2019 event in Montpellier, held from June 21-23, and the qualifiers for the all-women Dreamhack Showdown Valencia competition. The former was ESL’s first major event in France, pitting sixteen teams against each other to claim $750,000 in prize money, while the latter was eventually held in Valencia, Spain, featuring the qualified teams of female CS:GO professionals also competing for a substantial prize pool.
In a world where Apex Legends can go from a buried secret to the most streamed game on Twitch in just one day, and Teamfight Tactics can bring the auto battler genre from a growing niche to one of the largest platforms in steaming, it can be easy to miss that the classic competitive titles are still thriving, that their eSports scenes are as lively now as they’ve ever been. Seeing CS:GO this high, still, on our list of the top performing eSports, is a testament to the staying power it and games like it continue to demonstrate, and how much work their competitors still have ahead if they want to achieve the same level of long-term success.
5. Hearthstone - 4.8 Million Hours eSports Viewership
The official Hearthstone competitive scene works via a stratification of its competitors, with different levels of tournaments for different levels of play. The “Masters Qualifier” tournaments are their entry level, open to all, and are the first step in the runway leading towards “Masters Tour” events, wherein the best players from the first tournaments are invited to compete for larger prize pools and potential spots in “Grandmasters” competition, the highest level of Hearthstone competition. The month of June saw the year’s first of those second-tier events, with the Masters Tour Las Vegas competition held from June 14-16, and accruing just under four million hours of viewership on Twitch.
Breaking up competitors into these different levels allows the Hearthstone community to open itself to new competitors, to have the compelling storylines of players emerging from nowhere to compete at the highest levels, while still maintaining the platform for their top-tier talents with name recognition. eSports, from the perspective of a viewer, is often about watching people play at a level you could never hope to achieve yourself. But, there’s also an aspirational element that’s important to your platform as a competitive game: viewers are also players, and if they feel like there are opportunities for themselves or players like them to break into the space, if they’re able to visualize that dream, it leads to a much more engaged audience. Hearthstone does a great job of making sure there are multiple levels of competition, and that there’s always an opportunity for advancement. That’s why the event in Las Vegas, which didn’t feature the celebrities of the Hearthstone space, was still the third most watched eSports event on Twitch during the month of June.
6. Rocket League - 2.8 Million Hours eSports Viewership
Rocket League has been a darling of the competitive space since it first hit the scene back in 2015, with its deceptively simple gameplay revealing levels of nuance and expertise, maneuvers that professional players make look so easy that are really impossibly difficult, making it the perfect title for eSports. Sometimes, you need to know a lot about how a game works and what it looks like in order to understand what’s happening on screen during a competition or tournament. If you don’t understand mobas, for example, a game of Dota2 could be difficult to follow. Rocket League, though, is very easy to understand; it’s soccer with rocket cars. So, even if you’ve never picked up the game yourself, you can appreciate it just the same.
For these reasons, Rocket League has thrived as an eSports title for over four years, and during the month of June, the Rocket League Championship Series saw the conclusion of its seventh season of competition, with the finals taking place between Renault Vitality and G2 Esports on June 23rd. The playoffs and the group stage that preceded it accrued 1.85 million of the game’s 2.8 million total hours of eSports viewership for the month, making it the sixth most watched competition on Twitch during that time frame. Season eight is set to begin later this year, at a still unspecified date, so while the game will likely fall out of the top ten for July, don’t be surprised to see it rising back up the list again, once the competition is back in full swing.
7. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - 2.3 Million Hours eSports Viewership
The Call of Duty World League held its final regular season event of the year in Anaheim on June 14th through 16th, giving sixteen teams their final opportunity to increase their standing before the league finals in July. The event accounted for all of the game’s 2.25 million hours of eSports viewership, enough to make it the fourth most viewed competition on Twitch for the month.
The CoD series is in an interesting spot, in regards to competition, with the imminent release of their next title, once again called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, only two months away. With that being said, that the previous title could still perform well enough to host one of the five most watched eSports events on the platform for the month is impressive, and speaks to just how established the series has become in both the competitive space, and the gaming space in general. There’s no shortage of competition, these days, for Call of Duty, and I don’t just mean from its forever-rival Battlefield. The ubiquity of battle royale titles, the presence of other diverse FPS competitive titles like Overwatch, these things have made for a much more competitive landscape within CoD must operate. That the most recent entry in the series can still prove so successful this late into its lifespan shows that the games remain healthy, even in the face of all these other titles. It will be fascinating to see how the next game does in this context.
8. Magic the Gathering - 1.5 Million Hours eSports Viewership
After Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering had the biggest month of any collectible card game in the world of eSports. The latest digital version of the classic game, Magic the Gathering: Arena, has been available in beta since September of last year, with a steady stream of improvements and updates ever since. In support of it, and the original physical game, Wizards of the Coast announced the would be creating a $10 million prize pool servicing each, which began with the first Mythic Invitational at Pax East back in March.
It was the third such tournament, the Mythic Invitational III in Las Vegas, Nevada, that took place from June 21-23, airing on Twitch to the tune of 1.4 million hours of viewership, the eighth most watched competitive event on the entire platform for the month. Growth like this is a fantastic sign for Magic as it endeavors to carve out a larger community for itself in the world of streaming. Hearthstone has been a dominant streaming title for a long time, but other CCG titles have often struggled to compete on the same level. As one of the most important physical CCG games of all time, it has the cache, name recognition, and straight-up quality to deliver a captivating competitive experience, and it’s exciting to see them pushing forward on their mission to expand the reach of their dedicated community. The title is still in beta, and there are, of course, constant releases of new packs and content, so we expect to see even more growth moving forward.
9. Rainbow 6 Siege - 1.5 Million Hours eSports Viewership
Though they don’t represent specific locations, as in the Overwatch League, the official Rainbow Six Pro League, operated by ESL in association with Ubisoft, does mirror the other organization’s more traditional structure, with regional divisions and set teams as opposed to an invitational or open-qualifier model. Season 10 of the Pro League began in the middle of June, with the first three match days taking place before the month’s end. During that month, the league’s collective viewership, combined with the game being featured in a Twitch Rivals event, combined to earn it a spot as one of the top ten most viewed eSports on Twitch for the month.
10. Fortnite - 1.2 Million Hours eSports Viewership
When we complete our rankings for July, we’re pretty certain the recent first-ever World Cup event will make Fortnite the most viewed eSports title for the month, but the weeks leading up to what would become one of the biggest events in Twitch’s history didn’t necessarily feature similar levels of viewership when it comes to official competitive streams. It’s important to note that the World Cup Qualifiers, which did take place during the month of June, were rarely carried by official streams, and instead were streamed by the individual participants, and just how much viewership this accounts for is difficult to measure. In the context of these rankings, those really aren’t eSports streams, and instead are more accurately categorized as individual creator streams which happen to be leveraging a competitive event. Should those numbers have been included, no doubt Fortnite would be higher up this list.
But, the game did accrue more than one million hours of eSports viewership for the month, between the game’s Summer Block Party event, which included a celebrity pro-am featuring fifty traditional celebrities, fifty pro gamers, and a $3 million charity prize pool, and those few streams from the weeks of World Cup Semi-Final contests which were carried by the official Fortnite Twitch channel. The ultimate pay-off will likely be a quick rise to the top in the next month’s rankings, but for the month of June, Fortnite was indeed the last of the top ten most viewed eSports on Twitch.
“Esports viewership numbers” were acquired by collating the total Twitch viewership on official competitive channels and streams for each title, including alternate language broadcasts. Participation in competitions streamed from personal accounts were not included in our metrics. This excludes certain forms of content which could be considered esports related, such as practice-sessions from professional competitors, smaller tournaments that don’t have official streams, friendly competitions or creative content from professional competitors, etc.
Be sure to check out our breakdown of the fastest rising titles on Twitch for the week, and to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for all the latest blogs, announcements, and game marketing news from the team at GAMESIGHT!