Worlds 2021 peak viewership numbers increase by 60 percent from 2020, break all-time record

League esports is growing at an incredibly rapid pace.

Photo via Riot Games/Getty Images

The 2021 League of Legends World Championship set an all-time high in terms of viewership numbers, with more fans watching the final match of the prestigious tournament than ever before. According to a release from Riot Games, the grand final series between EDward Gaming of the LPL and DWG KIA of the LCK accrued an audience of over 73 million peak viewers, an increase of 60 percent compared to last year’s tournament. 

Earlier this month, viewership-tracking site Esports Charts reported over four million viewers tuned in at the finals’ peak. That number excluded Chinese audiences, however. The number of 73 million viewers reported by Riot and its esports analytics partner, Stream Hatchet, undoubtedly includes the massive Chinese market for League. The 2021 tournament marked the fourth straight World Championship with an LPL representative in the grand final. 

Despite being a fully remote tournament, the 2021 World Championship drew more eyes than ever before. Last year, all rounds of the tournament except for the final were played without an audience in Shanghai. In 2020, 46 million peak viewers tuned in to the final between DAMWON Gaming and Suning, a then-record for League esports. 

This season, the entirety of Worlds was played in a bubble environment inside the Laugardalshöll Arena in Reykjavik, Iceland. This year’s League World Championship was meant to take place in China once again but was moved out of the country in favor of Europe just weeks before the scheduled start date. Riot cited travel restrictions and COVID protocols as the reasoning behind the switch. 

The 2022 League World Championship will return to North America for the first time since 2016. The tournament will span four cities—Mexico City, New York City, Toronto, and San Francisco. The 2022 League of Legends competitive season is scheduled to begin in January, with North America’s LCS and Europe’s LEC both slated to kick off on Jan. 14.

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