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T1’s Worlds 2023 victory broke the esports viewership record

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Worlds 2023 set a new esports viewership record during the finals between T1 and Weibo Gaming, standing as a strong answer to outward struggles for League of Legends esports.

Over 6 million viewers watched the clash between T1 and Weibo Gaming according to a report by ESCharts. Peak viewership reached 6,402,760 viewers during the final series of the tournament played on November 19. Worlds 2023 broke the viewership record previously held by the Garena Free Fire World Series 2021 Singapore. This reestablished League of Legends as the most-watched esport in the world.

This peak viewership tally was over 1 million viewers higher than the finals of Worlds 2022. During the Worlds 2022 finals, where T1 played against DRX, the peak viewership reached 5.1 million. Worlds 2023 also saw a year-over-year increase in average viewership, going from 987,000 in 2022 to 1.2 million in 2023. This statistic does not include viewers from China, which constitutes a significant portion of the League of Legends fandom.

There are signs that League of Legends remains one of the world’s most popular games, but Riot Games does not make the player counts for its games public.

League of Legends’ popularity is a constant concern for fans. There have been mixed messages regarding how things are going for the game, but Worlds 2023 breaking the esports viewership record suggests that the situation isn’t as dire as some were fearful of.

Unofficial estimates of League of Legends’ player counts say the game has over 100 million active users per month. Officially, Riot Games keeps those numbers guarded. The last official statement came in 2019, where Riot Games stated that League of Legends is played by 8 million different people per day. In the past 30 days, Twitch reported over 83 million watch hours in the League of Legends category.

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It’s unclear whether the game has grown or shrunken since then, but things look to be solid overall. Speculation regarding the game’s death likely stems from outward signs of trouble in North America and North American esports in particular.

In 2023, the LCS reported a decrease in its viewership with a peak of around 223,000, a massive drop from the 370,000 concurrent viewers registered in 2022. One of the main reasons for the decrease in viewership was likely a schedule change. The LCS went from airing on weekends to airing Wednesday through Friday. Despite the LCS’s claims that this would positively impact viewership, that has not proven to be the case.

In the aftermath of the Worlds 2023 finals, two LCS franchises opted out of the game. This was preceded by TSM, the most popular organization in the region, selling its franchise.

A decline in the popularity of an esport doesn’t necessarily indicate a decline in the popularity of the game itself, however. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive broke player count records multiple times, even as its esports scene went through multiple crises.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2.

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