The International 9 was the most-watched Dota 2 broadcast to date, according to new stats revealed by Esports Charts.
The statistics firm says at least 1.96 million people tuned in for the matchup between OG and Team Liquid in the grand finals. A million of those viewers visited the English broadcast, while Russian language streams accounted for a very respectable 670,000.
Remarkably, these stats don’t include figures from Chinese platforms as that data is harder to procure. Considering Dota 2 has a strong presence there and that Shanghai hosted the International 9, the actual viewer count could be much higher.
Esports Charts published an estimate for the aforementioned Liquid vs. OG matchup, showing a 30 million peak viewers for that bout in the Chinese region. The PSG.LGD vs Liquid match in the lower bracket finals supposedly hit 35 million. Even if the Chinese stats are just 10% of that estimate, it would still be an impressive showing that proves Dota 2 is stronger than ever.
Compare those numbers to The International 8 in 2018, which held the previous record after garnering an impressive 1.21 million peak viewers outside China’s borders.
Viewership wasn’t the only eye-popping metric for The International 9. This year’s grand tournament set the esports prize pool record with $32 million being put up for grabs across the bracket, edging out the Fortnite World Cup’s $30 million in the final crowdfunding push and handily beating The International’s own $25 million record from last year..
While The International 9 couldn’t claim top honors for viewership — Fortnite took that trophy home — it shows that we may be entering a boom period for the relevancy of esports. The corporate world hasn’t been able to ignore the potential gains of getting involved, with more major brands than ever spending big dollars to increase their presence and visibility among a young and energetic demographic.
Not every league is pulling these kinds of numbers. In fact, the flow of dollars is weighted heavily toward the top, with Fortnite, Dota 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive owning a vast majority of the pie.
But as more people buy into the hype, the benefits of this explosion in popularity should trickle down the ladder as they aspire to be part of the spectacle at all points of the spectrum.