The BLAST Global Finals put up the highest viewership numbers for a Counter-Strike tournament since ESL Pro League Season 11. Between the tournament’s official broadcast and its partner streams, the tournament’s finals peaked at 687,000 concurrent viewers according to ESCharts.
The tournament featured two of the world’s top CSGO teams in Astralis and Natus Vincere. Astralis was heavily favored heading into the tournament’s grand finals, making its 2-0 loss to Na`Vi even more surprising and likely contributing to the tournament’s massive numbers. The lopsided nature of the finals actually resulted in a decline in viewership, as the peak came during Na`Vi’s lower bracket finals showdown with Vitality.
Though the final tally came from a number of different channels, BLAST Entertainment’s English live stream peaked at 208,744 viewers during the grand final’s first map between the two teams just as Na`Vi’s Denis “electronic” Sharipov nailed an unlikely jumping headshot on Astralis’ in-game leader Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander. The shot put Na`Vi up 1-0 against Astralis, a team many believe to be the greatest dynasty competitive CSGO has ever seen.
The tournament also showcased CSGO’s growing viewership outside North America and the European Union, with Brazilian CSGO streamer Alexandre “gAuLeS” Borba recording an additional 90,000 viewers as he cast the tournament in Portuguese.
The BLAST Global Finals enjoyed this record day after a tough end to 2020 for CSGO esports. Last fall, the scene watched as 37 coaches received suspensions in a cheating scandal. This was followed soon after by a public blowout between players, coaches, and tournament organizers. The dust-up was centered around the game’s professional player’s association and the massive fees it charged to tournament organizers for player IP rights, allegedly never made it back to the players.
This buoyancy is a good sign for CSGO esports offerings heading into 2021. The game’s major tournaments were canceled due to travel restrictions last year, marking the first time in eight years CSGO fans didn’t have a worldwide competition to determine the game’s best team. CSGO’s big day also came just after an earlier match hit record highs over the weekend. According to a tweet from esports insider Rod “slasher” Breslau, the tournament’s matchup between Team Liquid and Na`Vi on January 23 was among Counter-Strike’s most-viewed matches ever.
first map of Liquid NAVI peaked at 592,000 concurrent viewers making it the second most watched online match of CSGO in history. no LAN no problem, Counter-Strike is going to have a good year
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) January 23, 2021
Time will tell whether CSGO can keep up its record viewership numbers, but it seems likely. After two straight months of tallying more than one million players per day, CSGO’s player count slumped towards the end of 2020 before bouncing back in January. The count peaked once again during BLAST’s Global Finals at 1,118,387 concurrent players.
CSGO’s first top tournament of the 2021 season is set to start on February 4 with the BLAST Spring Regular Season. The event will feature 12 of the game’s top teams fighting for their share of a $400,000 prize pool. After the BLAST Global Finals’ landmark day, fans ought to breathe a sigh of relief that CSGO and its esports competitions are in a healthy spot going into 2021.