What are the biggest esports for 2023?

Dec 13, 2022 | Rix Digital News | 0 comments

As an esports marketing agency and digital media business, many of our clients are asking us what the biggest esports are. However, the answer to this question can be framed in a number of ways – biggest by what measure?

While some are looking for advertising opportunities, others are looking for the best “bang for their buck” in terms of directly getting involved in the esports stratosphere. After all, watching a team of talented gamers unite under your own banner would stir the competitor in anyone. 

A lot of decision-making will heavily revolve around the basis of how many eyes a particular game pulls in. Put simply, more eyes will inevitably lead to more exposure for your brand and will lead to bigger and better sponsorship deals – thus increasing your potential revenue.

With esports viewing figures growing year-on-year, there is massive scope for growth for any brand looking to enter this incredibly exciting market. The popular MOBA game League of Legends, for example, was peaking at 3,882,252 viewers in 2020. However, by the end of 2021, the game was bringing in a peak viewership of more than 5 million viewers, and has one of the biggest esports prize pools.

League of Legends gets, by far, most eyes – but can be expensive to get involved in. Credit: Riot

More eyes, more prize?

A lot of this growth was fueled by the pandemic with people looking to consume new and exciting content whilst under lockdown. However, with the easing of lockdowns around the world, this hasn’t slowed down the biggest esports’ growth. Instead, it is exponentially rising. By 2024 the total audience for esports is expected to grow to 577.2 million viewers (a mix of casual and hardcore).

Now the big question you may be thinking is, what esport would be a good entry point for my brand? Well, it’s not necessarily a straightforward answer, and understanding your already-established audience will go a long way to help figure it out. 

For example, if you are a football club looking to get into esports, a game like FIFA would be an obvious place to start because your audience already enjoys engaging in football content. Where to go from there, however, could be open to interpretation. 

You also have to factor in costs. While a game like League of Legends would be a tantalizing prospect, due to its massive viewership and even bigger prize pools, there is a cost and time-relevant determination due to the franchising model publisher Riot have adopted. To be able to have a chance to enter at Tier 1, teams will first need to purchase a franchise spot, worth upwards of $10m (USD) – this is before signing an all-star roster required to compete at that level. 

Esports viewership is increasingly exponentially year-on-year
Credit: Rix.Digital

Attaining good CPR – “Cost Per Result”

Brands who are looking to dip their toes into the esports scene will almost always look to move into a more affordable esport, where you are not constrained by multi-million dollar franchising costs and high wages. 

For example, games that we are finding that prove to be popular amongst brands with no esports experience are the likes of Fortnite and Rocket League – both are incredibly popular games amongst fans, and their popularity as an esport has really started to shine as well. The pair also have some of the top 10 biggest esports prize pools.

Both games have benefited from an increase in viewership. Fortnite is up to 557,722 peak viewers in 2021, up from 351,576 in 2020, more than 50% year-on-year. Rocket League is up to 368,721 peak viewers, up from 261,359 in 2020. As a result, both games are projected to hit records in peak viewerships by the end of 2022.

If you were looking to enter a game like Rocket League, you’d be looking at very reasonable fees thanks to the low cost of acquiring and maintaining a team, and thanks to the fact you don’t need to pay to enter their esports league. Top-tier teams are forced to qualify for regional tournaments, and subsequently World Championship events. 

The fact you have to contract just three Rocket League players, vs five in League of Legends, for example, also goes some way to help with costs. 

How to not go bust in esports

Our recommendation is never to get into this space without a consulting partner, such as Rix.Digital, to help weigh the results versus the costs. The biggest esports are a difficult road to navigate and game bias is one of the quickest ways to go broke. 

While the industry appears to be incredibly immature, some would-be esports entrepreneurs will soon find themselves in incredibly difficult situations should they not tread carefully.

While getting into esports is incredibly exciting for all parties, it’s not hard to see how as many funded esports organisations fail as do succeed.

To see some of esports biggest prize pools, as well as other great information around the industry, we have more great content on our News page.

Get in touch with an esports marketing agency like Rix.Digital to start your esports journey today.

These are the top 10 biggest esports (excluding mobile) by peak viewership for 2021.

  1. League of Legends – 5,147,699 peak viewers
  2. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – 2,845,610 peak viewers
  3. Dota 2 – 1,751,086 peak viewers
  4. Valorant – 1,505,804 peak viewers
  5. Apex Legends – 676,653 peak viewers
  6. Fortnite – 557,722 peak viewers
  7. Minecraft – 422,354 peak viewers
  8. Overwatch – 397,868 peak viewers
  9. Rocket League – 368,721 peak viewers
  10. Call of Duty: Warzone – 293,442 peak viewers

Now let’s do some comparisons from 2020 for the same games.

  1. League of Legends – 3,882,252 peak viewers
  2. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – 1,002,132 peak viewers
  3. Dota 2 – 508,082 peak viewers
  4. Valorant – 692,277 peak viewers
  5. Apex Legends – 213,855 peak viewers
  6. Fortnite – 351,576 peak viewers
  7. Minecraft – 469, 793 peak viewers
  8. Overwatch – 183,036 peak viewers
  9. Rocket League – 261,359 peaker viewers
  10. Call of Duty: Warzone – 317.552 peak viewers

Book a free consultation