Counter-Strike Majors Show How Tournament Structure Can Affect Reach on Twitch

Majors are the biggest events of the year for Valve’s Database-Link-e1521645463907 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Database-Link-e1521645463907, and each of the tournaments, run by a third-party organizer, span multiple weeks of action with a format that shifts through three distinct stages.

There’s a “New Challengers Stage” of 16 teams vying for eight spots in the “New Legends Stage.” The New Legends Stage is comprised of eight teams who received automatic bids and the top eight teams from the Challengers stage.

From there the field is cut down to eight teams that compete in the final playoff stage called the “New Champions Stage.” This single-elimination portion concludes the three weeklong afar and crowns the Major’s champion.

Due to the variance in the format for each stage and the level of the teams competing in each stage, every tier presents its own unique audience reach. Though the volume of matches is lesser in later stages, the high stakes of the playoffs help it achieve the Major’s peak viewership. On the other hand, the sheer volume of competition early in the event leads to its own respectable viewership figures.

New Challengers Stage

 
During this spring’s IEM Katowice Major run by ESL Database-Link-e1521645463907, the New Challengers Stage ran from Feb. 13-17 featuring a 16 team swiss system format. Both elimination and advance matches were best-of-three competitions, with all other games being best-of-one.

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With 128 hours of coverage on ESL’s primary CS:GO channel, across the stage it pulled 5.91M hours watched with an average of 44.27K concurrent viewers. The stage also peaked at 179.22K CCV.

Because this portion of the event is filled with the lowest tier of teams and serves as a sort of qualifier, its viewership is markedly lower than other stages that feature more prominent teams that have larger followings.

New Legends Stage

 
The New Legends Stage is often the most-watched phase of a Major in terms of total hours watched. This stage also has a 16-team swiss system format, just like the New Challengers phase, but it instead is laden with all of the best teams in CS:GO.

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At IEM Katowice, this stage was played from Feb. 20-24, and it posted the most hours watched of any stage for the tournament with 7.88M. The week’s 130 hours of airtime on ESL_CSGO averaged 66.65K CCV peaking at 268.09K.

Because this stage featured 33 matches, 13 of which were best-of-three, its volume of competition, combined with the level of teams playing allowed it to draw significantly stronger average viewership than the previous phase and post the largest audience of the event.

New Champions Stage

 
The Champions Stage of CS:GO Majors involves a more conventional playoffs format. The eight-team single-elimination bracket features all best-of-three matches, but it only includes the very top teams.

Though total airtime on ESL’s primary CS:GO channel was 126 hours, live sessions for the event averaged viewership marks that were 189K or higher, peaking at 558K CCV during the grand finale. Overall coverage on the channel reached 7.39M hours watched, including peripheral coverage, with an average of 70K CCV.

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While the event had significantly fewer matches, the grandiose nature of a Major’s final stage reels in the more casual fan in a way that other stages don’t, leading to a massive influx of viewership for live coverage.

For comparison, live sessions in the New Legends Stage averaged around 130K CCV with the final session averaging 157K CCV. The lowest average viewership figure during the New Champions Stage was 188.65K CCV, and all other live coverage surpassed an average of 200K CCV.

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