The 2021 Overwatch League wrapped up last weekend, after a terrific few days of the playoffs followed by the grand finale. The Shanghai Dragons beat Atlanta Reign 4-0 to win their first championship. Turns out they did it in front of the largest OWL audience to date.
The 2021 Grand Final game now holds the record for the most watched Overwatch League game of all time, according to audience stats the league shared with me. OWL uses a metric called Average Audience Per Minute, or AMA, which is the average number of people watching the show in any given minute.
The Atlanta sweep by Shanghai had a worldwide AMA of 1.68 million, an 8% increase from the 2020 Grand Final. So far, it was the most-watched OWL game of all time. WADA’s global figures for the Grand Finals have increased every year since the inaugural season in 2018.
On YouTube, there was an AMA of 218,000. This marked a 36% increase from last year’s Grand Final. The Overwatch League told me these are the highest numbers it has seen on YouTube yet (OWL broadcasts were on Twitch for the first two seasons).
In China, the audience for the Grand Final increased by 5%. It’s an impressive bump, considering Chinese fans were watching in the morning. The 2020 Grand Final match was broadcast in prime time in this part of the world. The fact that a popular team in the country goes a little further than last year has surely boosted the number of Chinese viewers.
It’s also worth noting that OWL shows have aired exclusively on Bilibili in China this season. In the past, fans could watch on multiple platforms.
The record breaking show ended an excellent year for OWL, which has enjoyed a formidable season despite a number of external factors weighing against it. The global tournament audience has also grown compared to last year (with the exception of June Joust, which was new in 2021).
The Grand Final closed the first major chapter in the history of the competition Monitoring. When the Overwatch League season 2022 begins, it will be on a first release of Monitoring 2. Reaching a new audience record is one hell of a way for the league to say goodbye to Monitoring 1 (and 2CP).