Top 10 Games in Esports - October '19

Which games have the most watched eSports scenes on Twitch? Check out our rankings to find out.

Top 10 Games in Esports - October '19

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 September 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. To compare to last month's numbers, click here.

1. League of Legends

Total Viewership: 51.4 Million Hours

Major Events: World Championships

The League of Legends World Championships bring the game’s entire worldwide competitive community together, featuring the best team from the official leagues of every major region. Beginning with the play-in round in Berlin on October 2nd, the month-long tournament whittled down the field of the best players in the world over several rounds until only two teams remained. The finals, pitting G2 Esports against FunPlus Phoenix, will be held this weekend in Paris, crowning this year’s champion.

The over 50 million total hours of viewership this tournament accrued on Twitch, across various channels, was the largest monthly total for any title since we began our monthly esports rankings this past June, pushing past Dota 2’s 44.5 million hours in August, the month of this year’s ‘The International’ tournament. Overall viewership was also up over 14% (approximately 16 million hours) over October of last year, which was also the month of the World Championships.

League of Legends is one of the top five most watched games on Twitch nearly every week, often taking the number one spot, and it largely owes that following to its robust, international, constantly active competitive scene. Accruing such incredible viewership numbers during its biggest event of the year only solidifies its place as one of the premier titles in esports. With only two months left in the year, this may go down as the biggest month of competitive viewership for any title of 2019.

2. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Total Viewership: 24.4 Million Hours

Major Events: ESL Pro League, StarSeries & i-League Season 8, DreamHack Rotterdam

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, in contrast to our number one title, accrued its impressive totals via a diverse portfolio of tournaments and leagues. Primary among these was the beginning of the ESL Pro League’s tenth season, which commenced in each of the league’s four regions, and will extend through the middle of November before culminating in the finals this coming October. In addition to these competitions, this past month also saw Starladder’s ‘StarSeries & i-League CSGO Season 8’ event, held in Turkey from October 21st through the 27th, and the open tournament held at this year’s DreamHack Rotterdam convention and celebration.

The nearly 25 million hours of viewership accrued across these events speaks to the broad foundation of different players, viewers, platforms, tournament organizers, and competitions that make up the CSGO esports scene. Most competitive communities experience a natural ebb and flow throughout the year, with viewership booming during the biggest events and then lagging behind during the “offseason,” but CSGO is one of the few titles that features so many established competitions that there’s seemingly always a significant event behind held, week after week. The game has been one of the most popular games in esports since the early days, and you can truly see it in the breadth of its community. For October, this manifests in healthy viewership numbers and a top spot in our rankings.

3. DOTA 2

Total Viewership: 10.1 Million Hours

Major Events: ESL One Hamburg, MDL Major CIS Qualifier

The third and final title to cross the 10 million hour viewership threshold was Valve’s iconic MOBA DOTA 2, which hosted three significant tournaments during the month of October. The largest of these events was the ESL One Hamburg 2019 competition, which featured twelve teams and a $300,000 prize pool. Held from October 22nd through the 27th, it coincided with the title’s strongest overall performance on Twitch throughout the month. In terms of daily peak viewership, four of the game’s five highest totals in October occurred during this tournament, and the finals resulted in the title’s single best day, reaching a zenith of over 150,000 viewers.

Adding to these totals, earlier in the month, was the MDL Major CIS Qualifier, held from October 5th through the 8th and featuring predominantly Russian teams. The primary Russian-language channel for DOTA2 competition, Dota2RuHub, accrued more viewership than any other broadcaster this past month, with a total of nearly 4.7 million hours, and this tournament was a big reason why. And, finally, Dreamhack held its ‘DreamLeague Season 12” tournament from October 18th through the 20th. Featuring only six teams, the event did serve to boost the game’s overall viewership, but not to the same degree as the two previously mentioned events.

Like most of the top-level esports titles, Dota 2 continues to thrive because it has a diverse, international community of competitors, organizers, and viewers that keep everyone engaged with a steady stream of events. The degree to which it succeeds varies from month to month, from region to region, but its ubiquity across so many different communities makes it a consistent force in the world of esports.

4. Hearthstone

Total Viewership: 4.7 Million Hours

Major Events: Grandmasters, Masters Tour

Hearthstone’s ‘Grandmasters’ league, the game’s highest level of competition, held the second season of its 2019 league year from August 23rd to October 13th, with the final week of standard play and the subsequent playoffs both taking place during the latter month. This was followed by the most viewed event of the month, the Hearthstone Masters Tour Bucharest competition. Peak viewership during the latter two days of this event were the highest totals for the game in the month of October.  

The competitive scene for Hearthstone is one of the more complex, with solo competitors instead of teams being divided across several different strata of events. This creates a somewhat unique space in which there’s this constant sense of movement and chance, with players moving up and down from level to level, and consistent opportunities for new players to break in and compete with the bigger names in the space. This makes the Hearthstone esports scene a little different from its competition, and it manifests in ways both positive and negative. The positives are in how lively and consistently active the competitive space can be, with so many events to keep viewers occupied. The downside, though, is that without teams in which viewers can invest emotionally, and given the constant change regarding specific competitors, audiences don’t necessarily get attached to the competitors in the same way they might for other titles. Both of these elements come into play this month, with the game enjoying steady, if not outstanding, numbers on Twitch.

5. Rocket League

Total Viewership: 3.9 Million Hours

Major Events: Rivals Series, Championship Series, Oceanic Championship, Grand Series League

Esports viewership for Rocket League is interesting in that the numerous different leagues, tournaments, and competitions actually seemed to occur at the same time, instead of being distributed throughout the month and weeks. This is because, while it is composed of different levels and organizers, the title’s competitive community tends to cooperate, to work as a collective unit. During the month of October, for example, every weekend featured major events, not just for the title, but from every level of competition mentioned above. The Rocket League Championship Series, organized by Psyonix, Epic Games, and Twitch, is the premier level of competition in North America, and it held league play every weekend this past month. It was joined, meanwhile, by the Rivals Series, which is a second level of competition, a minor league to the RLCS from which teams can advance. The Grand Series League, meanwhile, is the South American counterpart to the RLCS, as is the LPL Rocket League Oceanic Championship in its own part of the world. These leagues all held events at the same time, every weekend of the month.

This is an interesting strategy. While many games enjoy truly international competitive communities, its unclear that a great deal of Twitch viewership comes from across regions; North American viewers don’t necessarily watch their favorite game’s Russian competitions, and vice versa. So, instead of competing against each other, having these events occur at the same time actually maximizes the game’s peak viewership. Organizers have clearly decided that there’s more value in creating a “game day” than there is in making sure viewers have a chance to watch different competitions from different regions, live. Given the consistency of their competitive viewership, the strategy seems to be working well. It’s absolutely worth watching in the months ahead to see if this continues.

6. Starcraft II

Total Viewership: 2 Million Hours

Major Events: World Championship Series Global Playoffs

It may not hit the heights of the games at the top of this list, but Starcraft II continues to prove it remains relevant in the world of esports after all these years. This month, in the build up to Blizzcon, the game held its WCS Global Playoffs from October 23rd through the 26th, and during those four days the title accrued nearly 1.4 million hours of total viewership, the majority of it across official esports channels. This, combined with small additional sources throughout the month, was enough to land it the sixth spot in this month’s rankings. It will be interesting to see whether the Global Finals, subsequently held on November 1st and 2nd during Blizzcon, will be enough to find itself in a similar position next month.

7. Magic the Gathering

Total Viewership: 1.8 Million Hours

Major Events: Mythic Championship V

The success of Magic the Gathering: Arena, the latest digital iteration of the long-standing king of physical collectible card games, continued for the month of October, as it was the platform used for the latest in their series of ‘Mythic Championship’ events, this one held in Long Beach, California from October 18th through the 20th. Over three days, 68 of the world’s best players competed for their share of a $750,000 prize pool. This was the game’s fifth such event of the year, with one more planned for each remaining month of 2019.

Arena has widely been touted as the best digital translation of the physical game yet, and its allowed the game’s Twitch presence to dramatically expand, giving fans a more dynamic, crisp viewership experience that’s built for streaming. The Mythic Championship series has served as an outstanding showcase for this new format, and is helping the game rise up the Twitch ranks. We look forward to seeing continued growth in the months ahead.

8. Rainbow Six Siege

Total Viewership: 1.2 Million Hours

Major Events: US Nationals, Twitch Rivals

The Rainbow 6 US Nationals is an ongoing competition which began in April, a series of rounds and stages that will eventually culminate in the US National Finals this December. The competition takes place in five stages, three online qualification stages, a wildcard tournament, and then the finals themselves. October saw the majority of the third qualification stage, which began on September 17th and continued through the 24th of the following month. Outside of a single Twitch Rivals event on the 29th, this was the game’s sole source of esports viewership for the month. Its 1.2 million total hours of esports viewership is a 14% decrease from the previous month, which isn’t exactly what you’d like to see as a competitive season progresses. With the biggest moments of the season still ahead, it will be interesting to see whether the game can take advantage and climb higher up the charts.

9. Overwatch

Total Viewership: 900,000 Hours

Major Events: Overwatch Contenders 2019: The Gauntlet

The Overwatch League and its developmental subdivision ‘Overwatch Contenders’ are currently in their offseason, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any action for fans to enjoy. The ‘Overwatch Contenders 2019: The Gauntlet’ event showcased the world’s best non-OWL players from October 9th through the 13th in Seoul, South Korea, and it drew nearly one million hours of esports viewership across official channels. The league itself is coming off of a very successful season, one which saw continued growth in viewership over the previous year, and this is an interesting example of how that success can be carried beyond the league season itself.

Even more interesting is the announcement that Overwatch 2 is officially on the horizon. No doubt, its release will change things for the OWL, and it will be fascinating to watch how it will be integrated into competition.

10. Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds

Total Viewership: 800,000 Hours

Major Events: PUBG Europe League, ESL AU & NZ Championship

The PUBG Global Championship is set to take place from November 8th through the 24th, and that means that October saw several regional leagues reach the conclusions of their local phase of competition. The PUBG Europe League held the last of its three phases of competition, with final point totals determining which six teams would move on to the upcoming finals. Meanwhile, the ESL AU & NZ Championship was held in Sydney over the weekend of October 26th, with its top two finishers also securing spots in November’s competition. The whole world of PUBG will now focus on this last tournament, but the end of the year is still a competitive time for esports, so it remains to be seen whether the game will rise up in our next rankings.

Be sure to check out last month's rankings, and to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for all the latest blogs, announcements, and game marketing news from the team at GAMESIGHT!