Nearly 600K people played in ‘League of Legends’ tournaments in 2013

Esports are on the rise.

Photo by artubr/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Esports are on the rise. Earlier this month, millions of people watched a team of video game players compete for nearly $11 million in prize money at this year’s The International Dota 2 tournament—an event that was broadcast on ESPN’s online streaming platform.

Millions of people are also competing in esports events, according to a study by Battlefy. The esports management company’s tournament management platform is used by events like Riot Games’ Collegiate Open and the High School StarLeague. So Battlefy developed an algorithm to count the number of publicly listed esports tournaments and the people playing in them. The methodology may not catch every single event and every single player competing, but it gives a window into the wide world of esports.

Here’s some of the basic data Battlefly found, beginning with tournament numbers:

And the number of players by game:

The study covered North America, so the 1.2 million players competing in tournaments in 2013 are really just the tip of the global esports iceberg. Also note that ranked competitive play, a feature of many games included in these statistics, do not count as tournaments.

In 2013, the company had 33,636 tournaments in its sample. That’s a huge increase over 18,686 competitions in 2012 and 8,809 in 2011. Battlefy expects nearly 50,000 tournaments this year.

The top game was naturally League of Legends, the most popular esport on the planet, which featured 7,565 tournaments with 578,730 players playing in them. Dota 2 came next with 5,012 events and 327,090 players.

Those two games dominated the landscape. The next titles, FIFA and Counter-Strike, saw a touch more than 68,000 players each. FIFA proved the most popular sports title for organized competition. While Madden sells as much or more than FIFA in America, it didn’t crack the top ten competitive games.

Other popular titles include Call of Duty, which had 63,988 participants over 2,263 tournaments. StarCraft 2 may seem to be on the decline, but it still featured 3,104 events with 39,067 competitors.

The most surprising esports title? Pokémon. Nintendo’s game about training virtual monsters for battle had 3,604 tournaments and 50,403 players, more than traditional esport powerhouse StarCraft. While it won’t reach the viewership numbers of Blizzard’s legendary title, Pokemon’s World Championships will broadcast on Twitch starting Aug. 16.

World of Tanks, Battlefield, and Street Fighter rounded out the top ten list, with around 13,000 competitors each.

It’s possible some games were underestimated due to less tourneys being posted online—for example, console games where grassroots local events may be easier to organize. And it’s also likely some players were counted twice, registered for multiple events under different names. The numbers aren’t perfect, but should provide a solid estimate for what’s out there.

Battlefy also listed some statistics garnered from their own platform. 25.7 percent of their players were from California, with 8.8 percent from Washington, 7.4 percent from New York, and 5.7 percent from Texas.