ESL One Katowice breaks Twitch record with million-viewer weekend

ESL One Katowice breaks Twitch record with million-viewer weekend
Chris Higgins

The Intel Extreme Masters and ESL One weekend in Katowice last month broke the Twitch concurrent viewership record as more than 1m people tuned in to watch.

The eSports event hosted world-class tournaments for four of the most popular games in the Spodek Arena, in Katowice, Poland, over March 12-15. On top of the 104,000 fans across the weekend who cheered on from inside the arena, the official streams broadcast via Twitch racked up 75m independent sessions - a 211% increase from last year’s weekend, and a massive six-fold increase on 2012’s viewership. All of which can be handily seen in the infographic released by the company.

“It is amazing to see how in five years Intel Extreme Masters went from being a side show at a tech or comic expo somewhere to being its own exhibition with a truly mainstream level appeal,” said Michal Blicharz, Managing Director of Pro Gaming at ESL. “It is a massive turnaround that represents incredible cultural growth for eSports as a whole, with steady viewership that regularly rivals that of other major sports productions.

The tournaments - representing League of Legends, StarCraft II, CS:GO and Hearthstone - also paid out a total of $600,000 in prize money, the lion’s share of which went to CS:GO champions Fnatic who won half of the $250,000 pool reserved for Valve’s rising FPS.

The popularity of CS:GO streams in Asia also helped to boost combined stream ratings outside of Twitch, too, with an estimated 1.6m peak viewership across global broadcast platforms. Highlights and VODs from the action on YouTube have also totaled 72,073,593 minutes watched - which ESL estimates to be the equivalent of watching all of the Star Wars films 90,431 times (even the bad ones).

“Setting records is always expected with the IEM, but this was unprecedented. I haven’t seen an event with queues as long as in Katowice hours before the event started,” said George Woo, Global Sponsorships Manager at Intel.

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