What were the most popular esports games in 2020?

Jessica Scharnagle • February 4, 23:10

Major esports events have been growing in popularity and, according to newzoo.com, the audience is set to grow more rapidly in the coming years. Here is a look at the most popular esports games that dominated in 2020.

There are several factors to consider when talking about the “most popular” esports title. In order to determine the three most popular esports titles in 2020, total player count, tournament prize pools, and major esports tournament viewership were taken into consideration. 

1. League of Legends

League of Legends esport

For anyone familiar with the esports scene, it is no surprise that League of Legends tops out this list. It is consistently the most popular esports title year after year and brings in a lot of money in prize pools. The player count for the game sits at around 115 million players. In 2019, Riot announced that it had passed eight million concurrent players. 

LoL is also easily the most-watched esports of 2020 as well. Although there are a few titles that can compete with its average viewer count, it still tops the number in prize pool money and peak viewership. According to lineups.com, the prize pool for 2020 was $9 million dollars and had a peak viewership of 3.9 million. 

It is also commonly in the top 10 games being broadcast on Twitch. According to statista.com, the average viewer count on Twitch in December 2020 was over 129 thousand viewers. Average viewers peaked in November 2020 with over 230 thousand average viewers.

2. Fortnite

By sheer player count, Fortnite tops the list of the most popular game that also happens to have esports tournaments. Epic Games reported over 350 million registered accounts and has topped out at over 10 million concurrent viewers during a live in-game event. 

Fortnite also topped out as one of the biggest prize pools of 2020 with over $7 million. Viewership wasn’t bad either, sitting in second place as the highest peak viewership at 2.3 million. Their average viewership for tournaments sits at 200 thousand, which is near the same viewership as CSGO and League of Legends. 

Since its introduction to the video gaming world, Fortnite has been a popular pick among fans of all ages. Its cartoon-like style and bright palette of colors makes it a game that parents feel comfortable letting their children play. The game is also free-to-play, which makes it accessible to anyone who wants to make an account.

This battle royale style game isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and only looks to grow in 2021. With the constant flow of new cosmetics, players always have something to grind for with each new Battle Pass.

3. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

CSGO viewership

CSGO is not far behind Fortnite and LoL and its prize pool is nothing to sneeze at. What makes this game popular isn’t just that it consistently brings in viewership that rivals LoL and Fortnite, but their prize pool is a whopping $20 million. The first-person shooter has remained popular since its launch in 2012 and the franchise itself has been around since 2000. 

In March 2020, CSGO hit a new record with over one million concurrent players, indicating the health of the game overall. The game’s player count is around 800,000, which is still a much larger player count than when the game first launched nearly a decade ago.

Competitive CSGO was alive and well in 2020. The competition that brought in the most viewers was IEM Katowice at just over 1 million viewers. CSGO’s main league, ESL, has stated that viewership in 2020 was up by over 215% in 2020.

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