The return of a live audience brought renewed attention to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, as ESL’s Intel Extreme Masters Katowice event became the most-watched, non-Major event for the game, according to data from Esports Charts. The event drew a peak viewership of 1.12 million during the grand finals match between G2 Esports and FaZe Clan over the weekend. FaZe’s victory also marked the first time a North American player has ever won an Intel Extreme Masters championship.
The long-term viability of Counter-Strike is a frequent discussion within esports. The game’s realistic setting, terrorist-attack themes and red blood violence have limited its presence in scholastic settings and presented challenges for some non-endemic sponsors. Valorant, the Riot Games title that is a direct competitor to CS:GO, resolved these sorts of issues and now ranks as the most-watched shooter title on Twitch, per data from Sully Gnome (and three spots ahead of CS:GO). But while Valorant overall is performing better than CS:GO, the IEM Katowice event this year surpassed the 1.08 million peak viewers of last year’s Valorant Champions event, per data from Esports Charts.
Significant growth across major metrics
Along with 174,000 fans attending the tournaments and surrounding expo over the course of two weekends, all the tournaments combined achieved 157 million hours watched and 232 million viewers (accumulated daily viewers over the duration of the entire event), a multiple of earlier years’ viewership and the most watched ESL tournament series of all time. The largest number of unique viewers on a single day was 20 million. The event was broadcast in both linear and digital partners worldwide, who produced and distributed content in 21 languages.
“The ESL esports week in Katowice is a guarantee of unforgettable moments and emotions, shattering expectations with record breaking attendance and viewership,” said Ralf Reichert, CEO at ESL. “We’re humbled and proud to be able to come back to this audience every year and share these magic moments in the Spodek Arena with the whole esports world watching. Esports has a very exciting year ahead, which I’m very proud to say got kicked off at ESL One and Intel Extreme Masters Katowice.”
“With 232 million online viewers and another 174,000 enthusiasts watching at Spodek Arena, IEM Katowice 2019 gave gaming fans the world-class event they’ve come to expect from ESL and Intel, said John Bonini, Vice President/GM of the VR, Gaming and Esports Group at Intel Corporation. “Intel is deeply committed to powering record-breaking esports experiences by delivering amazing PC performance and innovation to the gaming community.”
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The CS:GO tournament was the main highlight with more than 126 million hours watched and nearly 195 million viewers (accumulated daily viewers over the duration of the entire event), the recent $1 million Intel® Extreme Masters Katowice Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major is officially the most-watched ESL CS:GO tournament ever. The tournament drew an average audience per minute (AMA) of 860,000 with a peak day of 1,330,000. After intense qualifiers and shocking upsets, it was ultimately the reigning Intel Grand Slam Champion Astralis making history in their victory over underdogs and fan favourites ENCE, winning two back-to-back Major championship titles in front of an at-capacity Spodek Arena crowd. The young Finnish runners up ENCE (previously ranked #17 in the ESL world ranking) introduced themselves on the world’s biggest stage by beating the world’s #2 Team Liquid and the #3 Natus Vincere. Four of their five members had never played a professional match on stage before. The result allowed ENCE to climb 12 positions in the ESL world ranking, which is yet another example that through ESL’s tournaments and leagues anybody can become somebody.
The$400,000 Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in StarCraft II was also the most viewed SC2 competition in ESL’s history. More than 5 million Unique Viewers (accumulated daily viewers over the duration of the entire event) watched Eo “soO” Yoon Soo, who had lost all 7 of the major SC2 finals he was featured in before, beating Kim “Stats” Dae-yeob 4-2 in the grand final. The first playoff matches took place at the Auditorium in front of a packed crowd. Fans tuned in at IEM Katowice 2019 SC2 for longer than 3.2 million hours (2018: 2.9 million HW and 3.5 million UV).
With multiple digital and linear distribution partners, an expanded esports festival, and the integration of cutting-edge technology, ESL broadened its commitment to lead esports on a global scale and create opportunities for fans and players at multiple levels. Similar to last year, the adjacent International Congress Center was home to the world’s largest esports-themed trade show, IEM Expo. The 26,000 square foot exhibition space highlighted esports stages as well as the newly redesigned Intel Technology Showcase, a must-see experience for esports fans. Additionally, ESL and The Esports Observer partnered to host the second installment of the Global Esports Forum: an exclusive esports conference for brands, sponsors, analysts, investors, and media, addressing the theme of “Unleashing the Next Billion Esports Fans.” The IEM Expo included various partner booths with computer gaming featuring powerful 8th Gen and 9th Gen Intel® Core i7™ & Core™ i9 Processor based systems.
Following two weekends of thrilling competitions and dramatic upsets, new winners lifted the ESL One and Intel Extreme Masters Katowice World Championship trophy. Winners of competitions in Katowice included:
- ESL One: Dota 2: Team Secret edged out Gambit Esports to become the ESL One Katowice 2019 Dota 2 Champions.
- IEM: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: Astralis outplayed ENCE to win the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2019 CS:GO Major Championship and the lion’s share of the $1 million prize money.
- IEM: StarCraft II: Eo “soO” Yoon Soo took the top prize over Kim “Stats” Dae-yeob to become the StarCraft II IEM Katowice 2019 Champion after eliminating World Champion Serral (Finland) during the playoffs and taking home more than US$150,000.
- Intel Challenge Katowice 2019: A collaboration between Intel, ESL, and AnyKey to spotlight the best women’s CS:GO teams and advance diversity efforts in esports. In the end, Team Dignitas bested Counter Logic Gaming to win the Women’s CS:GO championship.
- Guns of Boom: After a dominating 4:0,Noble was crowned the first Gods of Boom Kick-off Champions in Katowice.
- ESL Katowice Royale Featuring Fortnite: The American Vinny “Vinny1x” Gilgan from TSM was crowned the best player in the solo format on the 2,500 m² Fortnite booth. Meanwhile, the 19-year-old Canadian Williams “Zayt” Aubin and his partner Rocco “Saf” Morales from the US won the duo tournament.
For more information about Intel Extreme Masters, visit the official tournament website and browse the event photographs and video footage on IEM YouTube channel. The next stop for IEM will be Sydney, celebrating the 14th season kick-off with the 75th instalment of the longest-running global pro gaming circuit in the world where $2,350,000 was paid out during the last season. Please follow Intel Extreme Masters on Twitter and Facebook and visit the official website: intelextrememasters.com.