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Study: 26 percent of Western League of Legends fans are viewers only

League of Legends viewers

One quarter of Western League of Legends fans don’t actually play the game they watch, according to the latest report from data analysis organization NewZoo.

According to the study, 26 percent of League of Legends fans and 20 percent of Dota 2 fans don’t play the game they watch. The percentage is slightly higher for Counter-Strike (30 percent) and dips below 20 percent for both Overwatch and Hearthstone (18 percent).

In general, 42 percent of esports viewers among League of Legends, Counter-Strike and Dota 2 don’t play any of the games. NewZoo defined “doesn’t play” as not playing the game within the last three months and included anybody who has watched an esport event in the last 12 months as a “viewer.” Conversely, 26 percent of players who do not watch esports have attended at least one amateur tournament.

The report was designed to mark the overlap between gaming and esports with regards to five of the most popular games, and some of the data supports generally-held beliefs among those in the esports industry. For instance, 70 percent of fans of League of Legends, CS:GO and Dota 2 watch only one game, according to the report. That matches the belief that esports are much more individualized in terms of interest, especially when compared to traditional sports. League of Legends and CS:GO had the most overlap in viewers, with 13 percent.

As for intense viewership, Dota 2’s viewers appear to be tops, as 35 percent spend more than six hours a week watching professional competitive gaming across all franchises compared to, for instance, 27 percent for League of Legends.

The figures for the report were gathered across 10 Western countries: U.S., Canada, Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. The report did not include Eastern countries such as China and South Korea, two esports giants, and that could shift the results if they were to be used on a global scale.

CORRECTION: An earlier edition of this article incorrectly stated that 26 percent of League of Legends fans play the game. We apologize for the error.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games


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