League of Legends esports scene is not just about major regional leagues like LEC, LCS, or LCK. In the ecosystem built by Riot Games, there is also a place for less popular championships, where many top organizations and even well-known football clubs participate. We are going to tell you which national tier-2 LoL championships enjoy the greatest success with the audience.
How does the tier-2 stage of League of Legends work?
National leagues of League of Legends are held all over the world from Japan to South America. Most of them are built into the game's international esports ecosystem: the best teams compete at the Mid-Season Invitational and Worlds. However, some regions are so large, and the game there is so popular, that not everyone can find a place in the top league.
The most striking example is Europe. Only ten teams compete in the franchise European League of Legends Championship Series (LEC), and only they have an opportunity to participate in the international championships. And what about the others?
In 2018, Riot Games held the first tournament of the European Masters series: this is a pan-European tournament that gathers the best teams from national championships that are not represented in international championships. And this does not scare off the top clubs at all: for example, BIG and mousesports compete in the German league, there are the second G2 Esports squad (G2 Arctic) and the esports team of Real Betis FC in Spain, etc. League of Legends is still too popular: tens of thousands of viewers follow even the tier-2 events.
On the one hand, the organizations do not have much room for maneuver: it is impossible to get into LEC, playing at Worlds is only a dream and not all sponsors are interested in the tier-2 competitions. On the other hand, the tier-2 stage is very helpful for esports athletes in their professional growth. For example, the European Masters Summer 2020 was won by the AGO ROGUE, and later four out of five players of the roster found teams in the LEC.
There are a lot of regional European leagues: tournaments are held in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Greece, etc. They mainly involve teams of top organizations (from Fnatic to Team Vitality), football clubs (from PSV to Crvena Zvezda) and lesser-known clubs. And which leagues are the most popular among the viewers?
National LoL Leagues — France broke into the lead
At the beginning of 2021, to the surprise of many, the French LFL league demonstrated an incredible growth in viewers. Of course, it is far from the results of LEC, LCS and LCK, but LFL has overtaken the spring splits of PCS and LLA, whose teams regularly play at the world championships!
The Karmine vs. Solary derby is very popular among French viewers
A year ago, the LFL could not even dream of such results, but now the top matches of the league gather almost 200K spectators! Consider, that a year ago league matches attracted ten times fewer people.
There are several reasons for the growth: a new production team, a large hype around the popular local clubs like Karmine Corp and Solary, as well as community streams (the most successful broadcasts are those conducted by streamers who own clubs).
The French League is the undisputed leader among the other national championships in Europe. In terms of peak viewers, it is four times ahead of its nearest competitor, and more than twice by an average number of viewers.
In LVP, viewers mostly follow Vodafone Giants
In addition to France, the Spanish LVP SuperLiga stands out against the background of other European leagues. It has enough top clubs, including Vodafone Giants, G2 Arctic, Cream Real Betis, Movistar Riders and MAD Lions Madrid.
The spring split of the LVP SuperLiga got 50K viewers at peak, and on average more than 21.4K people watched the broadcasts: an excellent result for a tournament that does not claim to be a top one.
European League statistics in Spring Split 2021
Participants from eight European leagues qualify for the European Masters group stage. In addition to France and Spain, the competition includes the Polish Ultraliga, the German Prime League, the Balkan EBL, the Italian PG Nationals, the Greek GLL and the Scandinavian NLC.
Compared to last year's summer split, almost all leagues have improved in terms of viewership statistics. Only the Greek and Scandinavian leagues attracted fewer viewers, and NLC lost even to some regions that go to the Play-In stage of EU Masters.
In addition to the regions listed above, teams from five other regional leagues participate in EU Masters — all of them start the tournament from the Play-In stage. This includes the Czech Hitpoint Masters, the Portuguese LPLOL, as well as the Belgian League, Dutch League and Baltic Masters.
Statistics in these regions are much more modest. Hitpoint Masters, whose spring split at its peak attracted almost 10K people, is the leader in terms of PV. The worst result was shown by Baltic Masters: the matches of the teams from the Baltic states were watched on average by less than a thousand viewers, and the peak was only 3.1K people.
What can we expect from European Masters Spring 2021?
European Masters Spring 2021 has already begun. And given the growing audience of national leagues, we can expect the same from the main tournament.
For the second tournament in a row, the majority of EU Masters participants represent Poland. In the new season, the number of esports players from this country has increased from 13% to 18%.
It is incredibly difficult to determine the favorite of the championship, since the teams almost do not overlap. However, traditionally, at the tier 2 level of League of Legends, teams from Germany are the strongest, so in our opinion, mousesports and BIG have the most chances. The dark horses include the Poles AGO ROGUE and K1CK, as well as the French Karmine Corp and the youth team of Fnatic — Fnatic Rising.
The European League of Legends market is too big to be confined to LEC alone. Viewers' interest in the European regional League of Legends leagues continues to grow — as does interest of large organizations and football clubs in the game's ties-2 scene (the above-mentioned PSV and Real Betis entered the discipline only a year ago).
France shows the greatest progress among all regions in the new year — a tenfold increase in viewers! But will the LFL teams be able to prove that the hype did not arise from scratch?