Over a million fans tuned in, and it's only day one.
The League of Legends 2023 Mid-Season Invitational moved into the bracket stage on May 9 as G2 Esports and Gen.G took to the Rift, and while the stakes were higher than ever given the events new format, the bracket opener saw a turnout of epic proportions.
Over 1.37 million viewers watched the match live according to EsportsCharts, shattering MSI viewership records dating back to the events inception in 2015. Only previous MSI semifinals and grand finals have topped 2023s opening bracket match.
The match recorded the sixth most concurrent viewer count in MSIs history, just shy of last years semifinal between T1 and G2 (1.42 million) and 2021s DPlus KIA and MAD Lions semifinal (1.49 million).
Most impressively the tournament is posting record numbers while competing for viewership against rival esport CS:GO, with both MSI and the BLAST Paris Major Challenger Stage matches live at the same time. The BLAST Major has so far peaked at a touch over 600,000 viewers, with numbers identical to that of the IEM Rio Major in October 2022.
MSI 2022’s grand final between Korean squad T1 and Chinese giants Royal Never Give Up attracted over two million viewersbut that figure looks well within reach given such a jump in viewership for a match so early in 2023s bracket stage.
This years MSI tournament has seen a format change: Previously, teams fought across round-robin group and rumble stages, with only four teams progressing to a single-elimination knockout bracket. 2023s revamp sees two double-elimination brackets, with the main bracket consisting entirely of best-of-fives.
Related: LoL’s MSI 2023: Breaking down the new two-stage format
While the new format potentially means fewer matches for teams who are eliminated early, the raised stakes provide for a much more intense atmosphere, partially contributing to an extended rate of engagement.
Another factor for consideration is Riot Games’ decision to extend co-streaming rights to popular community streamersthe first time in the esports’ historywith big names LS, IWDominate, Caedrel, and Sneaky boosting viewership from their personal Twitch channels.
A major benefit is Riots MSI schedule: With matches starting at lunchtime locally in Europe, and in the evenings prime time for Asian viewers, two of the three major audiences are catered to at some point during the best-of-five. American viewers are affected the most by this years schedule, with a full-length best-of-five ending at midday CT.
It hasnt stopped some complaints from the community, with many working through the earlier match times, but with a favorable weekend schedule and the CS:GO Major taking a break day between stages, its very possible well see a new MSI viewership record later in the bracket.