Why Breaks Kill Esports

Esports like many forms of competition are not running all year. Some kind of break is needed for competitors to stay in form and not burnout. But when building something you need all the momentum you can get and ride said momentum as far it will take you. A mistake a few esports have been guilty of is taking breaks during the middle of a season. Now taking breaks during the middle of the season is not a horrible move. But when you do so and it’s not baked into the schedule of the season that can mess with the fan’s attention cycle and that could be a huge mistake. The one esport in particular I want to mention that is guilty of this is Halo. 

Competitive Halo is one the oldest esports and the first real big esport in North America with it first gaining popularity in the early 2000s during the early days of Major League Gaming (MLG). Halo became the dominant esport in NA throughout the 2000s and into the early 2010s.  But with the emergence of new esports like League of Legends, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, and Call of Duty. Halo lost a lot of its relevance and spotlight. It declined into a smaller and more niche esport. Where it remained until 2018 where it was announced no new Halo game would be released until the one they were working on was completed. It was set to come out with the next generation of consoles. That game was Halo Infinite.

Halo Infinite had an amazing release with it crushing viewership numbers on twitch and teams announcing they’ll be joining and players announcing who they’ll be playing for. Everyone was excited for the return of Halo and nothing showed that more than the success of the first HCS major. HCS Raleigh was nothing short of a success with great viewership topping out at 267k concurrent viewers and averaging 114k for the whole tournament. With the grand finals averaging 212k. Like every esports numbers would go down there wasn’t a major tournament going on but remained well until two months after but still one month before the next major the viewership for Halo tanked. Until HCS Kansas City rolled around in late April where viewership returned to a good place with the tournament peaking at 104k viewers and averaging 49k. There was a decline in viewership from the last major but nothing compared to where we are at now which is. The last tournament was in the first week of May. It is now the beginning of September and there has not been a major HCS event in the last 4 and a half months. The HCS and Halo infinite as a whole has lost almost all of its popularity it had at launch and the category barely averages 2k viewers on Twitch now. This is why I say breaks kill esports. 

We can use the CDL as an example for this. The CDL took a two month break between Major 2 and Major 3 and viewership declined in both peak and average viewership from 98k,55k to 72k,44k respectively. The unscheduled breaks disrupt viewer habits and disrupt any momentum built from the cycle of qualifiers into majors. This is what happened in the CDL: the fanbase was complaining that they were going to have to wait two months to see what happens next in the season. 

In an esport like Halo you need all the momentum you can get to build it into a place where it can go back to what it once was. So taking a 4 and a half month break in the middle of the season is a horrible move because who knows what the next major is going to be like when Halo has been completely out of the conversation for the last 4 months. 

This is why breaks kill esports.