The International 9 broke several records this year. Apart from being the highest-paying tournament in esports history with a $34.3M prize pool and crowning its first ever repeat and back-to-back champions in OG, TI9 was also the most watched event in Dota 2 history.
According to Esports Charts, TI9 clocked at 1.97M peak viewers during the grand final between OG and Team Liquid, beating TI8’s record of 1.21M by a huge margin. The number only represents the viewership on western streaming platforms, including Twitch, YouTube, Steam.tv, and the likes. In fact, TI9 was already bigger than TI8 during the lower bracket match between Team Liquid and Secret and kept growing its audience as the bracket got closer to the grand final.
ESC doesn’t provide the stats for the Chinese viewership, so one can only work with estimates. TI8 peaked at 14.98M with Chinese viewership last year, and given TI9 was held in Shanghai, it’s likely that the numbers were even higher (although data about Chinese viewership always comes with a grain of salt).
Despite the impressive jump in popularity and its repeat champions storyline, TI9 still trails behind the biggest events in esports recorded so far. In August, the Fortnite World Cup finals drew a peak audience of 2.33M. The last two League of Legends World Championships also recorded bigger numbers, according to Esports Charts, with Worlds 2018 peaking at 2.05M and Worlds 2017 at 2.10M viewers.
Then again, there’s yet to be a League of Legends or Fortnite player who can say they’ve won more than $6.8M playing video games.