Last weekend saw the conclusion of the second Overwatch League 2021 tournament cycle — June Joust. The $225 000 event kicked off on May 21st with a round of regional qualifiers, while knockout brackets took place from June 6th to 13th as a LAN competition in Hawaii.
Following the last month’s edition — May Melee, the publisher introduced several format changes to the competition, including tiebreaker changes and Hero Pools — a rotation of playable heroes aiming to showcase more hero diversity and strategy in matches.
As a part of the regulation, randomly selected heroes that had at least a 10% pick rate throughout the previous edition are removed from the pool, while each hero can be removed only once during the season.
Blizzard Entertainment’s structure adjustments weren’t met with much enthusiasm, as such changes may have a strong impact on the game strategies of some of the teams and potentially shake up the odds of winning.
The overall discontent most probably reflected in the viewership numbers, which were slightly lower than May Melee’s figures. This article sums up the viewership statistics of the whole duration of June Joust (qualifiers included) and compares it with May’s edition — the opening tournament cycle of the 2021 season.
As usual, the league’s action-packed competition attracted a notable amount of spectators, yet it wasn’t enough to surpass May Melee. Because both tournaments were broadcasted for the same amount of time, they are well comparable in all categories.
During 91 hours of Air Time, the June Joust tournament marked a total of 4.7M Hours Watched. That’s a 25.46% decrease in Hours Watched compared to 6.3M HW gathered during May Melee. On average, 52K viewers tuned in to spectate the competition, which is 27.4% less than last month’s edition.
The peak of 82K concurrent viewers was hit during the grand final match between
Shanghai Dragons and Dallas Fuel. The gripping match featured the repeating of the May Melee grand final showdown, except this time around, Shanghai Dragons upset Dallas Fuel 4-3 and grabbed the $100 000 reward, revenging their loss from the previous cycle.
In comparison with May Melee, which peaked at 113K concurrent viewers during the first week of qualifiers, June’s event reached 26.9% less Peak Viewers.
The language distribution of June Joust’s audience was nothing out of the ordinary. The English broadcast of the event attracted the majority of viewers, contributing 81.8% to the total Hours Watched. The rest consisted of Korean and French spectators, who contributed 12.4% and 5.8%, respectively.
Looking at the top five most popular teams by Average Viewers, the differences are minuscule. The team with the highest Average Viewers count — 65.3K, was San Francisco Shock, who got eliminated by Atlanta Reign in the regional semifinals.
The second most-spectated team of the tournament was Dallas Fuel. The May Melee champions, who almost managed to claim another victory, attracted 61.6K Average Viewers and also became the team with the highest Hours Watched count.
As evidenced, the viewership numbers of June Joust compared to May Melee went down by approximately one fourth. There are several reasons for this.
First, it’s somewhat common for opening events to have slightly more spectators than the rest of the regular season, of course except final stages. We’ve seen this development in some of the previous seasons of OWL, as well as in other esports titles.
Second, the aforementioned format changes have likely negatively impacted the viewership of June Joust, although there’s no feasible way to confirm this assumption.
The third is the declining trend of Overwatch League viewership which has been present in recent months, mostly thanks to the change of the league’s official broadcaster from Twitch to YouTube, but also due to the COVID-19 pandemic. OWL’s numbers are hardly comparable with the pre-pandemic times, and even though June Joust was partially played on LAN, it will take the comeback of full-blown OWL events with fans in attendance to be able to review the league’s viewership results objectively.
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