League of Legends has been leading the pack in esports circles since it was released in 2009. However, while the MOBA favorite from Riot Games continues to prove popular, it’s faced stiff competition from the likes of Valorant and Dota 2 in recent years. Nonetheless, League of Legends was once again crowned the most-watched esports title in 2022. Although not surprising in and of itself, the audience figures for LoL were truly extraordinary. In fact, it beat out the next most-viewed esports game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, by more than 180 million viewers.
Why is League of Legends So Popular?
Esports events have been soaring in popularity for many years. However, the top levels of professional competition are dominated by a handful of titles, with League of Legends being chief among them. What makes Riot Games’ MOBA so special? For one, League of Legends is an incredibly immersive game. It’s visually rich with colorful characters and slick animations. In other words, a typical LoL match is going to be far more thrilling to the average viewer than a first-person shooter.
Furthermore, League of Legends is no longer a single entity. Since being released, this massively popular MOBA has become its own extended universe. Arcane, an animated series based on the game, was released on Netflix back in 2021, breaking viewing records and becoming the most-watched show on the platform by the end of the year. Arcane also broke the trend for video game adaptations when it came to critical reception. Warmly received by fans and critics alike, Arcane quickly secured a second-season order.
LoL is also no longer a PC-only enterprise. Riot Games began work on a mobile version of the game back in 2015, with League of Legends: Wilf Rift finally released in 2021. This mobile-friendly take on the MOBA classic quickly became a hit with smartphone users, with Riot Games soon announcing plans to port Wild Rift to consoles.
This supporting media hasn’t just expanded in-universe lore; it’s also attracted a brand new audience to esports competitions. While not everybody who wretched Arcane on Netflix will have made the switch to viewing live events, the animated hit has introduced the MOBA to millions of new fans.
Most-Watched LoL Events of 2022
2022 was a great year for LoL, with the League of Legends World Championship breaking previous viewing records. During the 2022 event, more than 5.1 million concurrent viewers tuned in to watch the action unfold. In total, more than 611 million hours of gameplay were viewed. This is a slight decrease in viewership from previous years but significantly higher than other games like Valorant, Dota 2, and CS: GO.
How will League of Legends viewership fare heading into 2023? Expect an increase in viewing hours as more fans migrate from Netflix viewing to online esports events. It’s also likely that more of the Wild Rift player base will want to engage with the larger esports community. Ready to plan your viewing diary for the year ahead? For the latest 2023 LCS schedule click here.