The 2021 League of Legends World Championship grand final broke viewership records, according to a statement from Riot Games and Stream Hatchet, a live-streaming analytics organization. The five-game series between DWG KIA and Edward Gaming had 73,860,742 peak concurrent viewers and an average minute audience of 30,604,255 worldwide, including Chinese streaming services.
The Worlds 2021 final set records even without the Chinese viewership, with 4 million peak concurrent viewers, according to Esports Charts, the most in League of Legends esports history without Chinese streaming platforms included.
Worlds 2021 brought a 60.33% increase in peak concurrent viewers over 2020, according to Riot Games and Stream Hatchet. The year-over-year growth dwarfed 2020’s improvement of 4.7% in peak concurrents and gave Riot two consecutive years of viewership growth for its premier League of Legends event.
The Nov. 6 matchup between Edward Gaming and DWG KIA seemed sure to set records, though not to the extent that the tournament finale did. It was a series between one of the most popular esports organizations in China and a team trying to become the second to win back-to-back world championships, and the game also became the second-ever Worlds final to go a full five games.
Edward Gaming took the series 3-2 over DWG KIA, preventing the South Korean team from becoming the second organization to win back-to-back Worlds titles. This also marked the second international trophy for Edward Gaming and their first Worlds title. The victory saw fans all across China celebrate EDG as the fan-favorite team took home the title.
Viewership grew by nearly 28 million peak concurrents year-over-year, even with other Chinese teams involved in the action in each of the previous three Worlds finals. In 2020, China’s Suning Gaming faced DWG KIA, then known as Damwon Gaming, in a 4-1 win for the South Koreans that drew 46,067,896 concurrents, according to Riot Games.
The 2019 and 2018 world championships featured similar numbers to 2020 in terms of peak concurrent viewers. When China’s FunPlus Phoenix and Europe’s G2 Esports faced off in 2019 in a swift 3-0 for the Chinese side, concurrent viewership reached 43,982,055. Chinese squad Invictus Gaming’s 3-0 win over Europe’s Fnatic in 2018 in Incheon, South Korea, drew 43,997, 815 peak concurrent viewers. Both years also saw an average minute audience of 21,469,358 in 2019 and 19,280,120 in 2018.
Riot announced the news with John Needham, President of Esports, and Naz Aletaha, Global Head of League of Legends Esports, at a press conference at the Chase Center in San Fransisco ahead of an NBA matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors on Sunday. The game developer also announced the city locations for Worlds 2022 in North America, which were leaked Saturday.
Declan is an esports journalist and part-time editor for Upcomer. He is an avid gamer and League of Legends player. You can find him at the bottom of the leaderboard in most games or on Twitter.