These are the 3 most-watched esports events of 2021

By Steven Rondina


Dec 20, 2021

Reading time: 3 min

While 2020 was a breakout year for esports, 2021 was even bigger.

Major esports titles such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive both enjoyed record-breaking events, but they weren’t alone. Despite being big, they weren’t even among the most-watched events of the year as they gave away space and watch time to a mix of newer and better-established games.

These are the three most-watched esports events of 2021, as well as what made them so special. The numbers were pulled from Esports Charts, which tracks viewership for esports events across various streaming platforms and other sources.

2021 Free Fire World Series Singapore

Mobile games still carry a stigma in much of the west for being pay-to-win endeavors that put the player’s wallet before their skills. That hasn’t kept mobile games from growing to an enormous size and delivering some huge esports events in the east, however.

According to Esports Charts, the 2021 Free Fire World Series Singapore is actually the most-watched esports event ever. The top event for Garena Free Fire hit the greatest peak viewership for any esports event in history, with a peak concurrent viewership of 5.4 million and an average viewership of over 2 million. The 2021 League of Legends World Championship stands as a distant second place in this category.

For those that don’t follow it, Garena Free Fire is a generally straightforward battle royale game with a faster pace than competitors such as PUBG Mobile and Fortnite. It blends together PUBG Mobile’s style of gameplay with some of the more absurd elements of Fortnite, such as over-the-top weapons and giant slingshots used to traverse the map quickly. Its competitive scene revolves around four-man teams with up to 60 dropping on a map at a time.

The 2021 Free Fire World Series was ultimately won by Thailand’s Phoenix Force. The squad took home the $500,000 top prize in front of a large audience at home.

Call of Duty Mobile: Masters China

Once again, mobile games are actually much bigger than fans might think when it comes to esports. Call of Duty Mobile’s Chinese league was the biggest event of 2021 in terms of total hours watched.

CoD Mobile has been a smashing success for Activision and it has taken off around the world. It hasn’t been especially successful as a spectator sport despite its $1 million prize pools, but the Tencent-developed game does have a sizable following in China. 

The CoD Mobile: Masters China event had a total watch time of 281,069,892 hours. That’s a mark that makes it the biggest esports event ever in terms of total hours watched, putting it more than 100 million hours ahead of the second-place 2021 League of Legends World Championship. 

There is something of an asterisk to this, however. A big part of the reason that CoD Mobile: Masters China hit this enormous sum was the fact that it was a very long event. The league which ran for 10 weeks and had 231 hours of air time, considerably more than Worlds 2021 which ran for 135 hours, almost half the length of Call of Duty Mobile: Masters China. Still, the fact this event’s peak viewership was over 1.9 million means that tally was no fluke.

LoL Worlds 2021

League of Legends’ Worlds 2021 event didn’t hit the total watch time or peak viewership of its mobile competition, but it came in second place in both categories.

Worlds 2021 drew a massive and engaged audience throughout the event, which played out over the course of a month. The event’s viewership group as it progressed, with the peak coming for the finals between EDward Gaming and DWG Kia. EDward Gaming took home the Summoner’s Cup in an exciting five-game series.

The Chinese viewership for the event may have actually been enough to put Worlds 2021’s viewership above these other events in reality. But even if this is completely omitted, the biggest LoL event of 2021 was a smash hit.


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