The League of Legends All-Star 2020 event has recorded the lowest viewership the event has ever seen. This is continuing a trend of decline that we noticed back in 2019. Despite the best efforts of the folks at LoL Esports to promote the event, the viewership is just not there.
Like every year, the All-Star event brings together a star-studded cast of current pros, retired veterans, and top influencers to duke it out for their region. Riot Games made some changes to the format in response to fan criticism from 2019.
In 2019 the fan criticism to the event centred around three main issues:
1. The inclusion of Teamfight Tactics: Many fans did not like the new game drawing so much of the focus away from LoL games proper
2. The team selection format: In 2019 Riot only allowed two Pro players per region.
3. The small selection of game modes
Now, in 2020, Riot made changes to their format to attempt to resolve the issues:
1. They completely removed Teamfight Tactics from the event
2. Despite the inclusion of influencers, Riot allowed all pro and veteran teams to take part in the event.
3. Riot made significant changes to the event structure. Their new format included Underdog Uprising and Superstar Showdown. The former pitted smaller regions against a geographically close and more dominant rival region. The latter was the more traditional showdown between current pro players, veterans of the game, and LoL influencers.
Despite these attempts by Riot Games to win back the community or draw in new viewers, they did not succeed. In 2019, the event reached a 293,000-viewer peak, in contrast with 2018’s 565,000 peak. In 2020, the number went down to 231,000. This is a 20% drop in peak viewership from 2019. Even more concerning is the drop in average viewers, 127,000 viewers tuned in concurrently: nearly a 40% drop from 2019.
Part of the issue this year could be down to the coronavirus pandemic. It is just not as interesting or entertaining to watch the teams play virtually. Viewers will absolutely miss the atmosphere of an in-person arena competition. The decline may be even more pronounced because of this issue.
This is all the more disappointing for Riot after how far they came this year to maintain the popularity and viewership of their professional tournaments. According to esports viewership statistics website Esports Charts, the 2020 iteration of the League of Legends World Championship was the most watched esports tournament of all time. This beat out the 2019 Fortnite World Cup, The International 2019, as well as last year’s League World Championship.
Even LoL’s smaller, more regional-focused tournaments brought in massive amounts of views this year.
One of the biggest regional LoL tournaments was the 2020 LCK Regional Finals. This was Korea’s domestic tournament for the game. They averaged 500,000 viewers across the three-day regional final with the last match of the tournament hitting a peak viewership of 1,000,000.
Riot has proven they are willing to listen to fan feedback and make changes to their events. If they commit to improving their output for All-Star events, we could see some improvement in the future. Even if that does not happen, the 20% drop off this year may be down to the COVID-19 pandemic and viewership numbers may not increase beyond 2019 levels, but it may return to them.