It seems like everyone is talking about eSports these days. Multimillion dollar tournaments in video games? What’s that all about?
And then there’s the exciting and rapidly growing world of betting on eSports. More and more online casinos are offering it, and more and more punters are choosing to wager on the outcomes of rounds of such games as DOTA2, Counter Strike: GO, and many others.
So, stay on this page to find out what eSports are, how to bet on eSports, what is different compared to traditional sports and what the best sportsbetting online venues are.
What is eSports and Why is it So Popular?
In recent years, eSports have seen a meteoric rise in the mainstream. What was once the province of sweaty nerds at basement LAN parties is now a multimillion dollar business, attracting sponsorships and investments from some of the biggest name in the gaming and IT-industry sphere. The business is actually already over billion dollars business a year.
But what are eSports?
Simply put, they are any competitive multiplayer games that can be played by more than one person. There are many different games that are considered eSports today. So-called “MOBAs” (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) like DOTA2, League of Legends, and Smite remain the most popular types. And actually there is now about 50 different esports games where you can act as a professional and just play for money.
These games, in which teams of players compete to control crucial points on a map by using various hero abilities and tactics, are not the only type of game that’s out there.
First person shooters (FPS) games can also be eSports. Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the most popular of these.
Sports simulations like FIFA, strategy games such as Starcraft 2, and one-on-on fighting games like Tekken or Street Fighter are also eSports disciplines.
When it comes to the players or perhaps more aptly, cyber athletes, they can play alone or in teams. Many of the most popular games are played team vs team, such as Overwatch, Valorant, Apex Legends.
With the massive popularity of so-called battle-royale style games (Fortnite, PUBG) they too have started being featured at tournaments, even though certain purists in the eSports circle do not consider them to be truly a part of it.
How did it all begin with eSports?
We already mentioned the LAN parties, and essentially the current eSport craze has evolved from multiplayer which has been part of video gaming since the very beginning. In fact, the very first home video game, Pong, was a table tennis simulation (albeit crude) that was meant to played one-on-one by two opposing players.
But where it really heated up was with the advent of high-speed broadband internet. This popularized both the multiplayer games themselves (as players no longer had to be physically close to compete with one another) and watching streams of competitions on platforms such as Twitch. Of course, as the games grew in popularity so did the number of people who played them really well.
From there, the fact that we’d eventually see a professionalization of what we now call eSports, was only the natural conclusion.
Today, eSports are also popularized by Twitch streamers, many of whom have followings in the millions. Many countries in the world now have eSports associations too, further cementing the increasingly mainstream position of these virtual competitions.
And of course, where there is contest, there is betting on said contest. Online sportsbook sites have been increasingly getting in on the trend by offering punters the opportunity to take on action based on the outcomes of digital matches in many of the various eSport games.
Proving the popularity of this new type of virtual sports competitions, the market size of the eSports industry was over $1 billion in 2021 and it is expected to increase to $1.6 billion by 2024, according to the statistics and markets portal Statista.
What is the Difference Between Traditional Sports Betting and eSports Betting?
In essence, there aren’t many differences between betting on traditional sports and eSports. One consideration is that the eSports sportsbook market, because it is much newer, is less developed than the traditional bookmaking market.
In practice, this means that an “industry consensus” hasn’t really emerged about which eSports should be included in a bookie’s selection. Anda also that more complex types of bets found in traditional sportsbetting may not be available when wagering on eSports.
This is why, if you want to bet on eSports, it really pays to compare different sportsbook site options to see what’s available where.
Outside of that, your experience of betting on eSports at any reputable and regulated online bookmaker’s website will be much the same as when you wager on games like football or basketball. Select the event offered, make the wager, and wait for the outcome.
And just like it’s possible to bet on specific events in a sports match, so you can wager on what will happen in an eSports match. Some most popular option are number of kills or first blood (which team will make the first kill).
What Types of eSports Events Are There?
Just like traditional sports have cups, leagues, and tournaments, so do eSports have various event and match types.
As the industry developed, there emerged many different events in which e-athletes compete for glory, bragging rights, but also increasingly large boatloads of cash.
Some of the most common types of events you will run into as you begin following eSports are tournaments and leagues.
Tournaments are the events to look for when you’re eSports betting
In the tournament format, a number of teams (or individuals depending on game) duke it out through stages. It’s not that at all dissimilar from any traditional sports competition you may have been following before.
Within tournaments themselves, there are a couple of ways that things can shake out, depending on organizers and the type of game being played (not all games are fit for the tournament format).
Taking CS:GO as an example (one of the most popular eSport games out there right now) tournaments usually advance from group stage to the knockout/playoff and then to the grand finale. In one form or another this structure will be present in most tournament-style events you can wager on.
Within the group stage, teams duke it out most often in more than one game. This is because one team may be better at one map (level) and another at a different one, so it is done in the interest of fairness. The most typically used ones are best out of two and best out of three. In some cases, usually in later stages of the competition best out of five may be used.
Depending on the game, these games may last for hours. Which for fans of eSports is actually good news as they get to enjoy watching some excellent gaming action.
As for how it goes in groups, usually a round robin system is used where every contestant plays against every other. Another often used method is similar to football leagues where teams are randomly seeded for the first round and in the second winners play against winners while losers play against losers. This is called “Swiss seeding.”
Leagues offer a sustained eSports betting experience
Another type of event to follow are leagues. These are usually operated by third parties who monetize the streaming rights to the matches. Some of the most well-known leagues to follow are the ESL Pro League, a CS:GO organization, and for fans of League of Legends there is the Spanish Superliga.
Some other ones to check out are the eGames, a national level competition as well as the Electronic Sports League which produces various worldwide competitions in many games. But there’s are just some out of the literally hundreds put on by various sponsors and organizers for games such as Rocket League, SMITE, Tekken, World of Tanks, and many more.
The best thing about all these is that the matches can, almost 100% of the time, be watched for free on various streaming platforms. It is, of course, possible to purchase tickets and attend in person, but for those who can’t or won’t, exciting action is always just a click away. This is in stark contrast to traditional sports, where watching games usually requires a subscription to a sports channel package.
The best place to get informed about eSports events is the websites of the leagues, eSports sections of gaming sites, or even a online sportsbook site where you can see which events you can actually wager on.
What eSports Betting Options Are There?
Experienced sports punters are used to a developed sportsbook market where many different wagers can be placed.
Luckily, the situation is much the same as in eSports betting too. While the sportsbook market for these events is relatively new, there are already quite a few products available to wager on.
In this section, we’ll take a look at what’s being offered out there and also go through some eSports betting tips to help you make the most out of your wagering experience.
There are two main types of betting on eSports that have emerged: skin betting and cash betting.
When it comes to skin betting, it’s a bit different than what you’d do in a traditional online casino. Essentially, unique in game items (called skins) are held by a third-party provider (a skin betting site) and players use them like casino chips. With these chips, punters then proceed to play any number of games such as slots, roulette, and betting on match outcomes.
Very importantly, skin betting sites are not regulated in the vast majority of jurisdictions and are therefore quite risky. This doesn’t make them necessarily illegal, but caution is advised.
When it comes to cash betting on eSports, they are regulated by the same bodies that regulate traditional sports and offered by well-known and trustworthy brands you are already familiar with.
Types of cash eSports bets at sportsbook sites
Of course, exactly what’s offered might depend on the specific online betting venue, but here are some types of wagers you will most commonly find.
Let’s get right into it.
Right of the gate is the most simple type of bet that you are probably already familiar with even if you’ve never actually bet on any sports match ever.
Yep, it’s the good ol’ match winner (also known in some places as a “moneyline bet”). It’s the oldest and the most common, but sometimes simple things are the best ones. This is a very uncomplicated type of bet. Which team (or person) do you think will win the match? Place your bets accordingly.
Of course, spice can always be added to a match winner bet by using various forms of handicap betting where you can bet on the performance of an underdog in a matchup.
If you’re the kind of person that likes to make grand predictions, you’ll love an outright bet. In this method of wagering, you are putting money down on who will win the entire tournament or the entire league season. It’s a more exciting type of bet because it requires more analysis and prediction.
Good online sportsbook betting sites will let you make these well in advance of the actual competition.
Finally, there is the system bet. In traditional sports, these are the most often made bets, because the stacked odds can lead to some very impressive payouts. Of course, the more events you add to your bet slip, the higher the risk goes. It’s absolutely the same in eSports. This method of betting is the most advanced, the riskiest, but also the most potentially rewarding, which is why at online sportsbook sites it is the de facto standard kind of wagering.
As in traditional sports, it is possible to also place live bets. These work the same as in traditional sports, you are betting while the match is ongoing as opposed to placing a wager beforehand.
eSport specific online bets
So far, the bets we covered are the same across traditional and electronic sports. But, because of the specific nature of the video games being played, there are some types of bets you can only make when you wager on the outcomes of electronic video game contests.
Now, these bets will depend on the specific game but they all entail betting on events that happen as part of the gameplay. For instance, in League of Legends you could bet on which team will win the first map, or in CS:GO you could bet on who will be the first to get 5 kills.
More exotic types of wagering can be found on some sportsbook sites that have a heavy eSports focus. Which team will destroy the first tower, dragon, or inhibitor is an example of this type of wagering coming from League of Legends, but similar map elements exist in other MOBA games too.
It goes without saying that these exotic bets are best left to those with a more than passing understanding of the game in question.
Some eSports Betting Tips
Keep your focus on games you’re most familiar with
Yet another way in which traditional sports and eSports betting are familiar is in that you should keep your betting to the games you actually know something about. Many of the games offered are quite complex and if you aren’t familiar enough with the rules, your betting will be suboptimal. If you don’t really follow eSports now but are interested, the best thing would be to start watching tournament streams for different games and pick the one that seems most appealing to learn.
Follow teams and players
Once you have a game you like, familiarize yourself with the teams and players that are in the leagues and that pop up in matches. By analyzing their historic performance on certain maps and situations you will be able to better predict matchups. You will also have a better feel for whether a particular bookie is offering you realistic odds. Be sure the check the teams’ and players’ social media too for any developments that may help you make a decision.
Be mindful of the event format
Another thing to be consider when making an online eSports bet is the event format. Will it be a best of one, two, or three, or even five? Of course, the lower the number of rounds (games) the higher is the chance for an upset. Also keep in mind, in a best out of two, a draw is possible.
Check how the community is betting
By following online tipsters, you can get a feel for how the world at large is betting on a matchup. The final decision is always yours, but it doesn’t hurt to crowdsource a little bit of wisdom