Competitive esports has shown exponential growth over the last couple of years, and global tournaments of major games like Dota 2, League of Legends, and CS:GO are bigger and better than ever. But as more regions get in on the gold rush, has North America been left behind? Let’s review how teams from NA have fared in 2022.
What’s the future of the LCS?
The League Championship Series is North America’s top professional League of Legends – and this year, worrying doubts have started to surface regarding its future. A controversial statement from a former League of Legends pro player Doublelift sparked a debate – is the LCS dying?
He’s not the only one that seems to think so. Popular YouTuber Skooch took to Twitter to call it “tragic”, and the reasons he gave – “dwindling viewership” and “terrible” global performances – aren’t far off the mark.
The three LCS representatives at the Worlds, summer split champion Cloud9, runners-up 100 Thieves, and third seed Evil Geniuses – won a total of three matches between them during the group stage. Of these, two came against a major region, Europe. Their record against the eastern teams from the LCK and LPL was 0-6.
The average and peak viewership has also shown an alarming downward trend in 2022 compared to 2021. The spring split of 2021 recorded 23 million hours watched and a peak viewership of nearly 416k during the grand final between Cloud9 and Team Liquid. In the summer of 2022, those numbers had dropped to 19 million hours and 370k peak viewers, a fall of over 10%. There was a point during the summer when more minor leagues like the LFL and CBLOL recorded more average viewers even on low-hype games.
People have pointed fingers at a variety of factors like inefficient practice sessions but the fact remains that interest in the tournament is at its lowest point in recent history. One saving grace for the industry, however, is that LCS betting in the USA has been on an upward trend with more states allowing betting, and more platforms being given the green signal to offer esports betting.
Ohio will be among the latest batch of states with sportsbooks as the new year draws in. Nothing speaks to the growth of this industry like the fact that to get ahead of each other, several sportsbooks have already begun listing bonuses for states that haven’t even launched betting yet, with offers like the Bally Bet Ohio promo code aiming to give new bettors from the state a matched deposit when they sign up.
The CS:GO scene looks weak apart from Team Liquid
On the CS:GO front, Team Liquid has been single-handedly holding down the fort for North America. They’ve been in the top 10 of the world rankings since September, and the acquisition of Mareks ‘YEKINDAR’ Gaļinskis late in the year was undoubtedly a masterstroke. They came in as runners-up during Season 16 of the ESL Pro League and finished as semi-finalists at the BLAST Fall Finals.
It feels like a lifetime ago since Cloud9’s groundbreaking triumph at the ELEAGUE Boston Major in 2018 – they were, and remain the only North American team to have won a CS:GO major. They returned to pro CS:GO after a year’s gap in 2022 albeit with an all-new Russian roster – which was formerly Gambit Esports – so they’ve been operating in the European circuit instead.
The clearest recent indicator of the drop in quality of NA’s CS:GO teams is from the American RMRs of the IEM Rio Major. Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses seeded first and second respectively, while Complexity Gaming came in at seventh place. Those three were the only teams from NA to finish in the top 16 of the RMRs.