Mobile esports is a 2020 phenomenon. Mobile gaming tournaments not only came close to the stats of PC disciplines but also overtook several popular competitions in classic esports.
Some regions went crazy for mobile competitions, so tournaments reached incredible results: stereotypes about the popularity of mobile games only in Asia have been destroyed. Read on to learn which mobile disciplines are currently the most popular in the world.
Disclaimer: Data from Chinese streaming platforms was excluded. The most popular mobile games in China are PUBG Mobile and Honor of Kings (alternative name of Arena of Valor).
#5 — Clash Royale
Clash Royale by Supercell is still ranked #5. Although the game did not improve its position in the rankings, its Hours Watched increased by 31.3%. However, the game has collected only 112K Peak Viewers during Clash Royale League World Finals 2020, which is 18% less than in 2019.
The discipline is still popular, but it doesn’t grow as fast as its competitors. LoL: Wild Rift was released at the end of 2020, but this game also overtook Clash Royale by Peak Viewers, although it had way less events than the game by Supercell.
More details about Clash Royale tournaments viewership decline can be found in the article about Clash Royale League.
#4 — Arena of Valor
Arena of Valor was #1 in 2019, but now it only got 4th place. However, the discipline still remains extremely popular: its Hours Watched increased by 30% over the year.
The reason for AoV’s decrease is primarily a small number of tournaments and, as a consequence, a small amount of Air Time. Compared to ML:BB, AoV was 1K hours less on air, which caused less number of Hours Watched.
One should note that Arena of Valor is not so popular outside Asia as other disciplines in the ranking. However, in some SEA countries (Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan), Garena continues to host major seasonal competitions, so the game is #1 there.
As for the main event of the discipline, Arena of Valor International Championship 2020 broke the 2019 record, reaching 568K Peak Viewers. Hours Watched of the main tournament almost doubled as it increased by 96%!
A detailed analysis of the Arena of Valor’s achievements and most popular teams can be found in the report about discipline’s results in 2020.
#3 — Mobile Legends
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang by Moonton went from 3rd to 2nd place in a year and has grown incredibly according to statistics: its Hours Watched and Peak Viewers increased by 262%and 114%, respectively. Tournaments can now be watched on Nimo TV and TikTok, so this also affected the metrics.
ML:BB has been actively expanding in Indonesia and has become popular in many countries of Southeast Asia in 2020. This has been achieved thanks to regular regional leagues in Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, and Malaysia. Every new official tournament has been breaking the viewership records. For example, the Peak Viewers increase on MPL ID Season 6 was 68.4% (Nimo TV stats are excluded).
Moreover, MPL became the second most popular esports league, losing only to the Korean LCK league.
The main event of the discipline (M2 World Championship) was postponed to January, so its stats are not included in the ranking. However, the tournament broke many viewership records which you can learn about in this report.
ML:BB gained momentum outside Asia in 2020, and particularly in CIS. Local teams fought for the spot on world championship during M2 World Championship 2020 CIS Minor, and this affected viewership stats of the discpline. Betting companies also helped in popularization of the game, as now it’s possible in CIS to place bets on ML:BB matches.
#2 — Garena Free Fire
Garena Free Fire went from 3rd to 2nd place with 246% growth in Hours Watched! Free Fire Continental Series 2020 Asia became the discipline's most watched tournament of the past year, with 2.5M Peak Viewers. The event was very surprising, as the Asian region gathered more spectators than Latin America (where the game is really popular) for the first time.
Note that the American and Asian divisions of the Free Fire Continental Series 2020 took second and third places in the ranking of the most popular tournaments in 2020 by Peak and Average Viewers: including PC-disciplines.
The launch of seasonal leagues all around the world attracted even more viewers to the broadcasts. Apart from Europe, the competitions were separately held in CIS, where mobile esports is still a new thing. Free Fire Continental Series EMEA 2020 has gathered 128 thousand Russian-speaking viewers at the peak, and this is the new record for Free Fire CIS tournaments.
The popularity of Garena Free Fire was achieved not only by tournaments but also by streamers. Brazilian organization LOUD had a great influence on streaming in Latin America and Free Fire in particular in 2020. The team’s content makers held their tournaments, and the competition from the independent streamer Nobru for the LATAM teams became a kind of phenomenon and gathered 381K Peak Viewers. The second season of Copa Nobru performed slightly worse but still entered the list of the most popular tournaments by streamers in 2020.
PUBG Mobile, a Garena Free Fire rival, has lost its Indian region at the end of Q3 2020 due to the ban in India. This only played in favor of Free Fire. Battle Royale fans immediately switched to the new game, so Free Fire Continental Series 2020 Asia had over a million Indian Peak Viewers, and this is a record for India.
#1 — PUBG Mobile
PUBG Mobile has got the first spot in our ranking, though with a minimal gap with the previous contender (only 1,75% Hours Watched). In 2020 the discipline gained 134,5M Hours Watched for 7,8K hours of Air Time. (This is also the highest result among mobile games). PUBG Mobile overtook Garena Free Fire by 4,5K Hours Watched because it hosted many amateur tournaments worldwide.
As with Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, the PUBG Mobile World Championship also took place in January 2021, thus was not included in the 2020 stats.
The most popular tournament of the discipline in the past year was PUBG Mobile World League 2020, especially its eastern division, which gathered over 1,1M Peak Viewers. Note that the tournament also entered the top 5 most popular tournaments of 2020, including PC-disciplines.
The PUBG Mobile Club Open series boosts the games’ popularity around the world. PMCO 2020 was held in 14 regions, and India gathered the most viewers: 87K people at peak. This is one of the key areas for PUBG Mobile (like Latin America for Garena Free Fire). But at the same time, it’s a sensitive subject for the discipline, because the game was banned in the country. There are some attempts to relaunch the game in India, but there’s no new info about this for now.
PMCO 2021 started without Indian teams, which will affect the tournament results as it lacks rosters from the biggest region of the game.
PUBG Mobile is one of the few disciplines to focus on the MENA market. Official tournaments were held in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other major countries in the region.
The PMPL is another league that is actively drawing attention to the game. Like PMCO, it is divided into fall and spring splits and is concentrated on competitions between the best teams in the regions.
PUBG Mobile actively develops among the student community. In 2020, the most prominent event of this rank was the PUBG Mobile Campus Championship Indonesia 2020 with 28K Peak Viewers.
The game continues to evolve not only by its presence in the regions, but also in terms of broadcast coverage. In 2020, the developers increased the number of streams on Twitch and began to broadcast tournaments on Nimo TV, thereby increasing the number of viewers.
Brawl Stars, CoD: Mobile, Clash of Clans, Summoners War, and League of Legends: Wild Rift didn’t make it in top 5. The mobile analog of LoL is the main mystery in the world of mobile esports. It was released in the fourth quarter of 2020, but there are not many champions compared to the original one, and there are no official leagues so far. Wonder what will happen to the discipline in 2021: given the massive fanbase of the original, it has a chance of breaking into the top 5.
“The numbers show that mobile esports breathing down the neck of classic esports, and in some aspects mobile games even outperform PC-disciplines. Mobile esports has become a phenomenon in 2020, and it will continue to impress us in 2021. Mobiles have grown by over 100%, while the indicators of ‘classic disciplines’ have grown by an average of 1-10%.
Moreover, mobile esports not only increased its popularity in Asia but also spread beyond. Some disciplines entered MENA, CIS, LATAM markets and appeared on new streaming platforms such as Nimo, TikTok, and Booyah. As a result, mobile gaming in 2020 has attracted new fans, given that many people have discovered games and streaming for the first time due to the pandemic.
We’ve also seen a lot of new mobile esports rosters, as this gaming scene proved to be more accessible at both the professional and amateur levels compared to traditional esports.”
Artyom Odintsov, CEO of Esports Charts
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