What are the biggest mobile esports?

Here's the most popular esports played on mobile phones

Mobile esports have been consistently on the rise for the past few years, particularly in Asian countries like India and Thailand. While they might admittedly have a fair way to go to catch up to the top level PC esports scene, they still draw in big crowds and pay out big money at most major tournaments.

Recently, mobile esports have been in the headlines after Fortnite was removed from both the Apple and Android store in response to the Epic’s lawsuits with Apple and Google. Despite being one of the most recognisable videogames on the planet, however, there are many mobile esports with a bigger market pull.

Some of these, most recognisably PUBG Mobile, are mobile versions of existing esports, but others are original games which take advantage of the unique platform mobile gaming provides. Below, we take a look at the biggest names, the biggest prize pools, and the biggest viewership figures mobile esports have to offer.

Biggest mobile esports

PUBG Mobile is one of the biggest esports around, but with its new Global Championships tournament, it wants to become “bigger than League of Legends”. Lofty goals, but you can’t accuse the game’s director James Yang of dreaming small. Arena of Valor is another dominant name in the mobile games business, as are Free Fire and Clash Royale.

While an outsider to the industry might immediately think of Fortnite, PUBG and Call of Duty when they think of mobile esports, it’s more that these games are mobile versions of esports. PUBG aside, they haven’t  had anywhere near the impact on the mobile scene as they have in PC esports. For games that have made an impact however, mobile esports is a huge industry.

Most watched mobile esports games

We get into tournaments and prize money below, but consistent success is another way to highlight mobile esports’ success. When you take a look at the viewing figures for the top five most watched games, there’s clear daylight between every single one of these games, suggesting a clear hierarchy, although that isn’t necessarily the case. Figures from escharts.

Rank Esport Hours Watched (2019)
1 Arena of Valor 72,248,735
2 PUBG Mobile 55,585,392
3 Free Fire 38,164,312
4 Mobile Legends: Bang Bang 29,296,791
5 Clash Royale 5,259,856

The biggest gap is between forth and fifth, which has a massive 24 million hours difference. Clash Royale could increase its viewership three fold and still languish in fifth. However, on the 2018 charts, it was ranked in first.

Since then, Clash Royale has stagnated, where others have either made their debut or have significantly refreshed their offerings. League of Legends’ upcoming mobile game, League of Legends: Wild Rift, will be looking to be another debutante cracking the charts, while PUBG’s launch of a new era (Beyond A.C.E.) could see that rise to the top spot overall.

It’s also interesting to note that Free Fire, third in the overall list, actually had the highest concurrent peak, at 2,016,157 during the World Series 2019 in Rio.

Biggest mobile esports tournaments

In terms of viewership and prize money, it was technically possible for mobile Fortnite players to compete in and win big in the full scale Fortnite tournaments which also included console and PC players. However, these mobile players rarely win (PC gamers have a significant advantage, after all), and so Fortnite stats have been removed here since they aren’t realistically mobile tournaments.

Fortnite would top the list here, with annual prize pools into the hundreds of millions across all tournaments.

Rank Esport Annual Prize Pool (2019)
1 PUBG Mobile $5,000,000
2 Arena of Valor $2,166,994
3 Free Fire $2,000,000
4 Brawl Stars $1,500,000
=5 Magic: The Gathering $1,000,000
=5 Call of Duty: Mobile $1,000,000
=5 Clash of Clans $1,000,000
=5 Clash Royale $1,000,000
9 Mobile Legends: Bang Bang $150,000

As we can see, PUBG Mobile dominates the competition here, dishing out more than second and third combined, and more than all four joint fifth place sports combined. Despite being second to Arena of Valor in terms of viewership, it is able to give out more prize money in an attempt to grow the sport.

We see that with Call of Duty: Mobile and Magic: The Gathering too; neither game was invented as a mobile esport, but is instead the mobile version of the PC and card based esport respectively. This means these esports have more cash to splash, investing at an esports level to raise their popularity.

Away from that, the big talking points include how far Bang Bang is way off the pace, despite being leaps and bounds ahead of Clash Royale in viewership, as well as other games which didn’t even make the cut there. We also see a lot of games with in-game purchases happy to sow back a little bit of what they reaped; $500,000 of Brawl Stars’ $1,500,000 prize pool comes from fan donations via purchase of in-game items.

That’s the rundown on the biggest mobile esports in the world today. It’s a growing industry, especially in regions which don’t have access to high end PCs, and will continue to develop over the next few years.