Why has LCS Viewership Suffered?

Why LCS viewership has suffered recently.

After rising through the ranks to become one of the top Heroes of the Storm teams in the country, COGnitive Gaming is ending the year on a lower note—leaving their team house, and looking for a new sponsor

For the past few years, the League Championship Series (LCS) hasbeen a large component to the growth of Twitch. However, majorconcerns over the viewership for the LCS regions has been a majortopic among the community. Both the European and North American LCShave changed the format of the round robin to a best-of-two andbest-of-three respectively; thus increasing the amount of weeklycontent.


League of Legends is just over six and a half years old, meaningthat as much as Riot can deviate from the game that was releasedin 2009, we pretty much have learned everything there is tolearn from the game. Tempo, rotations, gold distribution, wavecontrol, jungle pathing and coordinating pressure were allrelatively new concepts to competitive play back when I firststarted playing and it is possible to assume that we have hit thelimit for strategic depth for this game.

I assume that many people, like myself, watch competitive Leaguebecause we want to learn more about what champions or strategiesare strong. Compared to other games, these lessons that we obtainby watching competitive play are relatively easy to apply to ourown play. For example, learning Taliyah might require you to watcha guide on YouTube and play a few games but performing Guileloops is difficult for the vast majority of StreetFighter’s audience. Once everything has been learned, it isdifficult to justify why you should continue to watch.

Time is valuable and should be respected

Frankly, there has never been a better time to play games thanright now. There are games for all types of people, from deepmultiplayer experiences such as Overwatch and Dota to enthrallingsingle player experiences such as Uncharted 4 and DOOM. Thereare many frustrations with League, including Dynamic Queue,and I can only assume a proportion of those who have complaintsabout the game simply say, “This game is not fun, soI’m not going to play it.” It is a very simple thoughtprocess but it is hard to give up something that people investedhours into.

This is probably not the root cause of the decay in viewershipnumbers, as there are definitely people who watch competitiveLeague without playing every day. But the time investment requiredto remain updated with the western region has increased. Again, aproportion of the audience will ask, “is this worth the timeinvestment?” and recently for me the answer has been no.

Other esport titles have seen remarkable growth since the lastyear with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2seeing a 30% increase in viewership over last year compared toLoL’s 8.1%. And with EVO and The International coming up, aswell as upcoming sport tournaments such as the Olympics and theEURO 2016, which ends today, it is hard to predict that LCS’smomentum will change. It is not that these competitions are indirect competition with each other, but the time investment towatch a major region for competitive League is much greater thanother esports and traditional sports; especially when a patch isreleased every two weeks.


This probably is not the end of League, but we could bewitnessing a beginning of a plateau in popularity for LoL. As manygame companies will know, it is very difficult to change themomentum of a game in the esports space but there are solutions tothese problems. A show that presents all the highlights of the daywith brief analysis in between in one tight show (Match of theDay-esque for those in the UK) could be a possible solution thatcould reduce the time investment for the audience.