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French-Spanish rivalry smashes LEC viewership record

French-Spanish rivalry smashes LEC viewership record
Image via kamet0 | Riot Games

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch

Published 

16th Jan 2024 13:00

Week 1 of LEC Winter 2024 has smashed all previous regular stage viewership records with an emerging rivalry between the Spanish League of Legends team MAD Lions KOI and the French Karmine Corp, drawing the eyes to the league.

A back-and-forth between various team members and surrounding influencers added spice to the competition, facilitating said growth, especially on the side of co-streams.

By the numbers

Week 1 kicked off with various high-stakes matches, especially between LEC fan-favourites, pairing the new kid on the block, Karmine Corp, against the biggest brands in the European region. Immediately put to the test, the French team played Fnatic, G2, and finally freshly-merged Mad Lions KOI.

While the team lost all three matches, its fans showed up, delivering several of the most viewed regular season LEC matches. According to esports viewership analytics service esportscharts, already the opening day beat last year by nearly 200k peak and 75k average viewership with Karmine Corp against Fnatic attracting the largest audience.

The match between Mad Lions KOI and Karmine Corp peaked at 741.5k, a YOY improvement over last year's regular season peak of 33.5%.  Most of the growth came in the co-streaming department, with both Karmine Corp's president and streamer Kamel "Kameto" Kebir and Mad Lions KOI's Ibai Llanos Garatea leading the charts.

The French audience more than doubled, with Kameto contributing a peak of 185.2k viewers, while Ibai had 225.8k viewers watching at a time. At least some of the attraction could be attributed to a back-and-forth between various members of both teams, stirring the pot before the match.

Kayfabe or real drama?

After two losses on the first two days, Kameto took to Twitter to vent his frustration with the performances, sending shots at Ibai prior to their head-to-head, claiming that Mad Lions KOI would be a "free win." 

SK Gaming Mid Laner and former Mad Lions player, Yasin "Nisqy" Dinรงer replied to the tweet, taunting his former team. His old teammate Javier "Elyoya" Prades Batalla shot straight back, replying, "Bro, if you were half as good as you are annoying, last year we would have won Worlds," according to a translation.

Head coach of Karmine Corp, Jakob "YamatoCannon" Mebdi also got into a dispute with Ibai over the value that KOI brought to the LEC, arguing that while KOI was already in the LEC last year, it didn't bring the same buzz to the league that Karmine Corp is currently doing.

KOI as a brand had decoupled from Rogue's parent company Infinite Reality in November 2023, with Mad Lions parent company OverActive Media announcing their intent to acquire KOI in January 2024, fusing their brands in the process and becoming Mad Lions KOI.

Ibai countered that his streams were consistently sitting at 100k viewers and topping Twitch as the most-watched channel during co-streams. LEC Week 2 kicks off with KOI against Vitality at 4 pm BST on Saturday, with Karmine Corp having their first match of the weekend at 8 pm BST vs GIANTX.

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch is a Senior Esports Journalist at GGRecon. He's been creating content in esports for over 10 years, starting with Warcraft 3.

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