The Hearthstone Premiership grand final broke viewership records to become ESL UK’s most-watched domestic eSports league event.
The ESL Hearthstone Twitch channel pulled in more than 26,000 viewers on Twitch during the UK final between George “BoarControl” Webb and Gareth “Cipher” Rouse.
It was held at the MCM London Comic Con on the weekend, with a Hearthstone-themed stage and room for an additional 1,000 spectators in the audience.
The seating area was about three quarters full at peak, bringing the total number of viewers up to almost 27,000.
Crazy event in the end, culminated in a great story and 26k+ viewers on Twitch. Thanks to @ESLUK for having me and everyone for watching.
— Simon Welch (@coL_Sottle) 29 May 2016
While other global eSports events held in the UK – like last year’s League of Legends World Championship quarter finals – generated more views, this is the first time a domestic UK league match has amassed more than 26,000 views.
ESL UK managing director James Dean told eSports News UK: “I think the UK is particularly good at playing Hearthstone – we’ve got some champions in the running.
“This is a typical example of where we’ve seen the core reason why grassroots national league will create champions for our country. Okay it’s a bit slow on Counter-Strike and League of Legends, but we just qualified a team into the Challenger Series – now let’s see what happens with Hearthstone.
“It’s our first Hearthstone season ever, it’s hit record numbers… I think the stream was genuinely good entertainment and that’s why people invested in it. So it’s been superb.”
Dean also said it was a fun project for ESL UK to work on, and spoke of the Hearthstone-themed stage setup.
“I think the fact that we can make it a bit more theatrical, it adds up to creating an experience that anyone can think is cool,” he added.
The final was also promoted by Blizzard’s official Hearthstone account on Twitter, which has more than 600,000 followers.
BoarControl won the final after coming back from 3-1 down to win the first best-of-seven 4-3.
He then went on to beat Cipher 4-2 in the grand final.
That was all before a streaker ran onto the stage during the UK Hearthstone semi-final between BoarControl and Mysterious.
BoarControl said: “Originally, we were getting about 300 to 400 viewers in the league to start with, then we ended up getting 3,000 or so in the final week.
“For the finals, Blizzard backed us on social media and that’s where we got all the viewers from.
“Hopefully, off the back of this, the prize pool will go up. They’re happy with the viewers and the league. UK Hearthstone is actually really, really strong, we’ve got quite a few world class players. It’s a really good scene and hopefully we can build on it.”
You can check out an interview with BoarControl below:
Elsewhere during the weekend, Gamespot’s UK editor Rob Crossley played ESL UK co-MD Spike Laurie in a Fireside match on Friday May 27th.
Laurie ended up winning the match, but Crossley provided some pre-final warm-up entertainment.
There was also a tournament between casters Ceirnan “Excoundrel” Lowe, Alexander “Raven” Baguley, Simon “Sottle” Welch and Dan Gaskin, which was won by Raven thanks to a Yogg n’ Load hunter deck.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.