2012 has felt like a breakout year for eSports, and MLG (opens in new tab) just released some huge numbers to prove it. Last weekend's MLG Spring Championship (opens in new tab) absolutely crushed the viewership totals of the MLG's entire 2011 lineup combined. When a single championship weekend eclipses a full year of competition, you know 2012 is likely a transformative year.
The Spring Championship garnered 4.7 million unique viewers last weekend. 2.2 million tuned in on championship Sunday. By way of comparison, the MLG Pro Circuit had a total of 3.5 million unique viewers over the course of 2011. In terms of simultaneous viewers, the 2012 Spring Championship enjoyed nearly double the peak audience of any 2011 Pro Circuit event: 437,000 people watched concurrently last weekend, whereas 2011's peak audience was about 241,000.
MLG did not release a detailed breakdown of its numbers from last weekend, so we can't compare StarCraft 2's viewership to League of Legends'. It's clear that MLG is moving LoL into parity with StarCraft 2 for the 2012 Pro Circuit season, including an Arena event in this next Summer season, and it would interesting to see how much of this past weekend's record-breaking audience belonged to League of Legends, to SC2, or to both.
On the other hand, while it's fun to parse numbers like that, they could encourage a League of Legends vs. StarCraft 2 debate that misses the essential point: eSports are exploding in popularity right now. While previous years have seen significant growth, the Anaheim event proves that eSports command a large and fast-growing audience. The year-end totals from MLG should be fascinating.