For a lot of western esports fans, it’s very uncommon to see mobile gaming as a real competition, especially if compared against the likes of League of Legends, CSGO, and Call of Duty. But the most watched esports tournament in June 2022 wasn’t for a console or PC game, but instead a mobile one. The MLBB Southeast Asia Cup (MSC) 2022 achieved a peak viewership of 2.8 million viewers, according to Esports Charts.

Mobile Legends Bang Bang (MLBB) is a MOBA title available only on Android and iOS devices. The game is immensely popular in Southeast Asia, and the viewership they reach during most of their tournaments proves this. MLBB is the same game that has been sued by Riot Games for allegedly ripping off League of Legends: Wild Rift. While the lawsuit is a different thing, mobile esports titles like Free Fire, PUBG Mobile, Arena of Valor, and MLBB have shown just the power of handheld competitive gaming.

While a lot of the western gaming community is used to playing console or PC titles, in the present day of increased mobile connectivity and easier access to the internet especially in developing countries, mobile esports rivals other esports titles in almost every aspect. 

Let’s talk about the viewership first. If you were to open Esports Charts right now and sort the esports tournaments by order of peak viewership, the top-ranked tournament would be a mobile game. The Free Fire World Series (FFWS) Singapore currently holds that record with a peak viewership of 5,414,990.

The 2021 League of Legends World Championship is number two with 4,018,728 peak viewers. It’s to be noted that Esports Charts doesn’t include viewership stats from China. In fact, out of the top 10 most watched esports tournaments of all time, six of them are mobile esports titles. One of these is for Free Fire, four for MLBB, and one PUBG Mobile tournament.

Honor of Kings is one of the most played video games around the world. In November 2020, the game had 100 million daily active players. Yes, you read that right. More than 100 million people play this game daily. That number has certainly gone up now. Furthermore, Tencent has announced that it will be releasing Honor of Kings globally soon.

The first franchised league for the title is the KPL. To get a sense of how big it is, a franchised slot in the 16-team league sold for more than $8.6 million in 2020, surpassing the likes of LCS spots in its earlier stages.

Additionally, MLBB has two franchised leagues called the MPL Philippines and MPL Indonesia. The MPL Indonesia constantly breaks viewership records. The latest season, season nine, had a peak of 2.8 million, according to Esports Charts. PUBG Mobile has also announced its intention of experimenting with franchising in SEA from later this year.

Now as the west sees more mobile gamers, it might be time to take mobile esports seriously as well. Western titans like TSM already do, as a matter of fact, but instead of going for domestic teams, they have signed teams in Brazil and India because those are huge spots for mobile gaming.

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Mobile gaming is looking to dominate the Esports industry