LoL Worlds 2022: Record peak viewership achieved as DRX claim surprise title
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Well, that’s it, another League of Legends esports season has to come to an end, but what a finish we had in the World Championships.
South Korean org DRX picked up their first ever international title, and in doing so, became the first team to come through the play-in tournament and take the trophy.
But it wasn't just the team that broke records, with the finals setting record peak viewership as esports continues to show its value alongside traditional sports.
Road to glory
DRX’s victory in San Francisco was the culmination of a long Worlds campaign which had started over a month earlier in the play-ins in Mexico City.
A 5-0 record was the perfect start in New York to what would be their 26-game journey, with Fnatic the conquerors of the other group with a 4-1 record.
Evil Geniuses and Royal Never Give Up had to go through the play-in knockouts, but both picked up 3-1 victories over LOUD and DetonatioN FocusMe respectively.
This where the competition really started, with sides playing three best-of-three matches. T1, Edward Gaming, JD Gaming, DWG KIA, Gen.G and Royal Never Give Up came through their groups, with the only tight one being DRX’s and Rogue’s who both drew two matches and had to play-off for top spot.
In the quarter-finals, JD Gaming and T1 both recorded 3-0 victories, but things were much closer in the other two contests with both going down to the final game. Gen.G edged out DWG KIA 3-2, and fellow Korean outfit DRX pulled off an epic reverse sweep to knock out China’s Edward Gaming.
On to the semis in Atlanta, and T1 guaranteed there would be a South Korean winner by coming back from 1-0 down to defeat JD Gaming 3-1. T1 vs Gen.G was the final many had expected, but DRX continued their fairytale journey by also bouncing back from 1-0 down to make it to the final in San Francisco.
T1 were the favourites going into the final, but given DRX’s form that had been going for a whole month, we were set for an epic contest – and it didn’t disappoint.
The two sides matched each other up on the first four games, meaning the final went down to a decider, and was clinched by DRX, going down in history as one of the biggest shocks in LoL esports history.
DRX’s Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon was named the Finals MVP having put “on a clinic” as legend Aatrox, overcoming T1’s Choi “Zeus” Woo-je, who was earmarked as being the best top laner at the tournament.
Hitting new heights
It wasn’t just DRX hitting new records, as the Grand Final saw a record peak off 5.1 million viewers, the highest ever for a League of Legends event.
This was despite awkward viewing times – with the tournament as a whole rending downward to last year – but given DRX’s remarkable run against giants T1, it seems many fans got up or stayed up for the finale.
This is a significant marker for esports as a whole, as it narrows the gap on traditional sports.
Last year’s Worlds Final, which saw Edward Gaming defeat DWG Kia in an epic, achieved total viewership of almost 74 million for the broadcast.
By comparison, Golden State Warriors’ victory over Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals only picked up 17 million views, and the Women’s EUROs final chalked up 50 million as England defeated Germany in extra time.
The final F1 race of last season – with the championship on the line – saw close to 109 million viewers, which is still well behind the Super Bowl on 208 million.
That still languishes behind the 2022 Champions League final, with Real Madrid’s victory over Liverpool watched by 390 million viewers worldwide.
If esports continues this growth, and continues to take advantage of being a truly global “sport”, uniting the west and the east, as well by being free-to-watch on online platforms, it can step into the forefront.
This could be media and public perception, or seen as a viable place for brands to advertise and learn about the community.