The grand final of VCL Japan Split 1 between FENNEL and Crazy Raccoon blazed past prior records of the North American Challengers League.
JAPAN – The VCL Japan Split 1 grand final has set a new record for viewership in the 2023 season of the Challengers Leagues, becoming the most-watched match thus far. At its peak, the grand final drew in a staggering 160,740 viewers, while the average viewership was an impressive 73,114, according to Esports Charts.
In addition to the impressive figures, Stream Charts reports that the official Japanese YouTube broadcast was the tenth most popular YouTube Gaming channel globally in February, with 2.76 million hours watched.
In the grand final encounter, FENNEL emerged triumphant over Crazy Raccoon with a stunning 3-0 victory on the maps of Ascent (13-11), Fracture (13-6), and Split (13-9). FENNEL, a team that underwent a major overhaul and retained only one player from the previous season, showcased their prowess by completing an impressive run through the lower bracket after securing the fourth position in the regular season standings.
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These figures still do not take into account the live audience who were in attendance at the event, which speaks to the immense popularity of VALORANT on the land of the rising sun. Indeed, tickets for the live event sold out within one hour of the initial ticket sales, further attesting to the incredible hype and anticipation surrounding the grand final.
The final series of the VCT Japan Split 1 was marked by several compelling storylines that unfolded throughout the course of the tournament, adding another layer of depth and excitement to it. Perhaps the most significant among them was the crowning moment for FENNEL, who lifted their first-ever VCT trophy amidst a roaring crowd of Japanese fans at the Intex Osaka Arena.
Another noteworthy storyline was the arrival of former NORTHEPTION in-game leader Cho “JoXJo” Byung-yeon, who played a pivotal role in FENNEL’s triumph. By joining the team and persuading his current coach with the conviction that “If I join this team, we will definitely win”, JoXJo proved to be a game-changer for FENNEL, propelling them to victory and securing his second VCT title in the process.
Their journey to the grand final was not an easy one, as they had to endure a grueling lower-bracket quarter-final against the formidable NORTHEPTION, which was hard-fought but ultimately won by FENNEL. They then went on to defeat Japanese-Russian combines in Sengoku Gaming and SCARZ, both ended with nail-biting 3-2 victories before finally clinching the championship title with a decisive 3-0 win over Crazy Raccoon.
The VCL Japan Split 1 grand final’s record-breaking viewership surpassed the previous record set by the ongoing VCL North America, which drew in 145,526 peak viewers during the FaZe Clan vs. Moist Mogul series in Split 1. With the Mid-Season Face Off set to kick off on Thursday, March 23, the viewership is expected to surge even further as fans eagerly anticipate the outcome of the second tournament that will grant points to qualify for the playoff stage.
Cover photo courtesy of VALORANT Esports Japan