Olivia R. January 6, 2020
Amassing over 1.2 million peak viewers, the IEM Katowice Major 2019 was the highest viewed Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event of 2019.
IEM Katowice's peak viewership of 1,205,103 shot it far ahead of the other big CSGO events last year, including the StarLadder Berlin Major which reached a peak of 837,748 viewers. Viewership declines even more for non-Major events, with ESL One Cologne 2019 reaching 506,375 peak views.
IEM Katowice was the first Major of 2019, taking place February 13 to March 3. Despite taking place in the first quarter, the event sat comfortably atop the chart for the entire year. This is most likely due to the event's rich history in the CSGO community.
“Katowice is an old industrial city that was built around the coal mines in the region, but today it’s building an image as a place that’s open to modern technology and youth culture,” ESL managing director Michael Blicharz told PC Gaming in 2012. “A global gaming event held in Katowice’s main sports venue fit into the that image very well. The city had the vision to recognize a great opportunity and has benefited tremendously on an economic and PR level. In 2014 the Katowice city council voted a bill to support IEM until 2019.”
Over the years, IEM Katowice has grown immensely. In 2013, 50,000 CSGO fans attended the event. That more than doubled in 2014, then grew to 113,000 in 2016. In 2019, 174,000 fans came to see their favorite teams compete in one of esports' greatest homes.
StarLadder Berlin fails to live up to expectations
IEM has historically been bigger and more heavily viewed than StarLadder events, and 2019 was no different. In fact, it was more evident than ever before.
The Berlin Major's peak viewership fell well short of IEM Katowice's and it may have been due to a few issues unique to last year's tournament. One such issue was the observers, which frustrated pros and viewers alike throughout the competition.
Natus Vincere's Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev even called one of them out on Twitter, asking them "what the heck are you doing?" Fans replied with clips of their own, including one in which a caster said the action "looked a bit confusing" thanks to the amateurish observing.
StarLadder also rubbed fans the wrong way when the event organizers began striking streamers with copyright claims when they broadcasted tournament matches on their channel. Streamers and the CSGO community were so vocal in their anger over the situation that StarLadder ended up partially revamping their broadcasting guidelines.