Shorter format, production boosts see CS2 viewers flock back to ESL Pro League

From a shortened three-week season right through to the hilarious skits, Season 19 of ESL Pro League delivered on all fronts, and the organizer was rewarded in kind with average viewership spiking for the first time in two years.

While peak concurrents were down for the grand final between MOUZ and Vitality on May 12, the average Counter Strike 2 viewership for this EPL season was at its highest since season 16 in 2022, according to Esports Charts. 154,967 fans tuned in on average throughout the tournament—almost 20 percent higher than in 2023—while over 370,000 watched MOUZ take out EPL and claim back-to-back league titles.

Siuhy and apeX fist bump in front of the ESL Pro League Season 19 trophy in Malta.
As entertaining as the skits were, it was still all about the CS in Malta. Photo by Helena Kristiansson via ESL

A chief complaint in the CS2 community had been the length of EPL, with many feeling a month-plus investment for one event stretched interest too far. As such, the expansive 24-team tournament was cut down into a swift three-week format for season 19 with matches played over two streams. This, combined with a heavy investment from the organizer in boosting the entertainment factor of EPL via well-produced skits, thrilled audiences this May.

The casting and hosting talent at ESL Pro League was given the reins for content with a myriad of short skits landing well with the community. It wasn’t just the casters either, with some of CS2‘s top players showing off their acting chops in a wide range of clips mimicking pop culture and films such as Fight Club, The Lord of the Rings, and Dune. “The production with all those skits, casters, and atmosphere really makes it a huge and entertaining experience even without a whole arena full of crowd,” one fan said in a May 12 Reddit thread.

At the end of the day it was all about the Counter-Strike with young guns MOUZ completing an all-but-flawless run through the group stage and playoffs to secure their second EPL title in as many events. Captain Kamil “siuhy” Szkaradek was crowned the MVP while Vitality superstar ZywOo was brought back to earth after an incredible tournament that saw the Frenchman averaging a 1.70 HLTV rating up until the grand final.

ESL will return to Malta for Season 20 of Pro League in early September, once again held over three weeks.

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