The MSI 2018 final between Kingzone DragonX and Royal Never Give Up was the most viewed esports event in history.
Chinese side RNG overcame their Korean opponents 3-1 on the Summoners’ Rift to take the Mid-Season Invitational title. Despite plenty of pressure from KZ, they were unable to deal with the LPL champion’s attacking threat.
Eager to see their country prevail, some 126.7 million Chinese people, approximately 9% of the nation’s population, tuned in to watch the action unfold according to esports statistics website Esports Charts.
If this is the case, it beats the previous record of 106 million viewers, set at last year’s League of Legends World Championship tournament when Royal Never Give Up went up against SK Telecom T1.
According to the website, the match achieved a peak viewership of 127.5 million, with 99.3% of those viewers hailing from China. English streams peaked at 330,000, with 27,000 viewers tuning in from Russia.
Riot made the right decision
League of Legends publisher Riot faced criticism from the game’s North American fans in the build up to MSI 2018 due to their decision to hold the final at a time that suited Eastern audiences.
It seemed like the right decision, given that the two finalists were representing the Korea and China regions.
These statistics seem to prove that Riot made the right call. China is the biggest video game market in the world, generating upwards of $30 billion each year. Likewise, given Riot’s connections to China, it is one that the company will want to keep happy.
This shows just how popular League of Legends is in the east. Some 110 million people currently play the hit battle arena title in the region.
However, there are concerns that these reported figures are grossly inaccurate. According to InvenGlobal, Chinese streaming platforms are known to send bots to their streams in order to inflate their numbers and play up their status in the market. Whether this is the case here is unclear.