DOTA 2 eSports Betting

eSports betting has taken the world by storm as interest in DOTA 2 and other gaming titles now attract mainstream attention. Their fast-paced, often team-based gameplay is analogous to sports in many ways, and DOTA 2 betting has become an exciting way to spice up your tournament experience and potentially pocket a bit of money as well.

Betting companies are increasingly interested in offering odds for DOTA 2 tournaments and are also sponsoring teams – a clear sign that eSports betting is here to stay and stronger each year.

DOTA 2 is one of the largest and most prestigious eSports in the world, and definitely one that’s worth getting into if you are interested in eSports betting. As a free-to-play game, it boasts an incredible following and a reliable pool of talent alongside one of the largest prize pools in the scene, basically guaranteeing top-tier competition.

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Types Of DOTA 2 Betting

Getting into DOTA 2 can be a bit of a challenge because of the different DOTA 2 betting types that were popularized over the years. While we’ve now reached a point where many traditional bookmakers offer DOTA 2 eSports betting, some other, less desirable alternatives were also developed in the intervening period.

DOTA 2 eSports Betting

DOTA 2 eSports BettingSince the professional matches are always played by the same ruleset on the same map, bookmakers now have a very good idea about the intricacies of DOTA 2 and are therefore able to offer many different kinds of DOTA 2 betting. Of course, you can always just bet on the winner of the match you’re watching or the overall winner of the event – but the maturity of DOTA 2 as an eSport allows for a wide variety of betting options.

Match Winner Or Map Winner

This is the most straightforward way to wager, figuring out which team will eventually triumph at the end of the series. Also known as “moneyline bets”, the odds only take the end result into consideration. And since a competitive DOTA 2 match is almost always a best-of-three series, you can also bet on which team will end up triumphant in a specific round.

Spreads

Spreads or handicaps are an interesting option to mix up your standard bets by essentially “giving an edge” to one of the teams and then predicting how that would impact the end result. If the skill gap between the two sides is so large that you’re confident of the favorites winning 2-0, a you can give a +1.5 map advantage to the other team and bet accordingly. Of course, this means that you’ll lose your bet even if the favorites win 2-1 as the 1.5-game spread essentially gave a 2-2.5 victory to the underdogs. The offered odds are often much juicier than what you get for standard moneyline bets for this very reason.

Prop Bets

Some sportsbooks give you the opportunity to bet on very specific in-game occurrences. The potential list of these is essentially endless, but the most common ones in DOTA 2 betting are determining first blood (who gets the first kill of the game), the first team to ten kills, the first team to destroy a tower or a barracks or whoever gets to kill the first Roshan (the most powerful neutral creep in DOTA 2).

Outrights And Live Betting

You can also make bets on which team will win the entirety of the tournament even before it began. Correctly pegging an upset winner will net you fat stacks of cash but keep in mind that this will deprive you of using the information you’d gather over the course of the event itself when making your betting decision. On the other hand you have the option to make bets while the game is already in progress on most safe betting sites, but keep in mind that the odds will be shifted according to how the match has developed, in real time.

Skins Betting

DOTA 2 Skins BettingSkins and other virtual cosmetic items are given tangible monetary value thanks to Steam’s built-in marketplace, players could buy and sell these colorful weapons, and while the platform’s terms of service explicitly forbid this kind of conduct, it didn’t take long for third-party websites to try and take advantage of the fact that these digital items are actually worth something. Whether Valve purposefully looked the other way about skin gambling or held their fire until they were sure they could shut most of it down remains a mystery

What we do know for sure is that many skin betting sites were established in that period and a decent chunk of them are still going in some capacity. The problem with using skins as a currency for betting is that it runs against Steam’s terms of service to operate any site that offers such an opportunity. Needless to say, this means that the sites operating skin betting services are not safe for you to use and there’s no guarantee you can get your money back. Companies engaged in practices like these are regularly sent cease and desist letters by Valve.

Skin betting also doesn’t offer anything that legitimate eSports betting options don’t as well, making it even worse of an idea to take an unnecessary risk on them. Worse yet, skin betting sites also tend to offer jackpot games, which should tell you all about their business model. These are the digital equivalent of buying a lottery ticket with a similarly poor return on your investment.

Fantasy Betting

DOTA 2 Fantasy BettingFantasy eSports betting is a different beast, and while it has its positives, it doesn’t compare with the real deal. Most of the sites that offer fantasy eSports revolve around a salary cap system where you need to establish a fake team of pro players by spending a given amount of virtual money on the semi-arbitrarily assigned salaries of the players. If they do well, you gain points, and with bettors partaking in different leagues, the one with the most points at the end of the “season” wins the prizes. You’ve guessed correctly, those are often DOTA 2 skins with all the legal and regulatory complications they imply.

Our Recommendation

For our money, the choice is a no-brainer. Skins betting is an unregulated and unsafe alternative to real money bets and is, therefore, a non-starter for us. While fantasy eSports betting can be a legitimate option – though that isn’t always the case in the eSport scene –, it just doesn’t deliver the same kind of thrill. Betting on results makes it more exciting to watch tournaments and provides you with a much better opportunity to gain tangible winnings. It also requires more skill than spinning a roulette wheel or identifying well-performing individuals in a team game – and since this form has the most in common with traditional sports betting, it means you’ll have a plethora of learning material to chew your way through.

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DOTA 2 eSports Betting Guide

Betting Tip #1Get Immersed And Do Your Research

DOTA 2 Betting Tip Learn The GameMOBAs are a notoriously indecipherable genre at first sight, meaning if you want to get any sort of edge on the bookies, you need to devote a decent amount of time and energy to figuring out the game’s mechanics. Unlike a more self-explanatory game like CS:GO (terrorists are shooting at counter-terrorists) or FIFA (let’s see which guy can control their fake football team better), DOTA 2 is a lot more arcane experience from an outsider perspective, in the sense that it has an enourmous amount of lore and characters.

Worse yet, its incredibly fast-paced and split-second decisions revolving around a myriad of abilities also makes it difficult to figure it out simply by watching broadcasts of the game. It’s honestly worth inmersing yourself into the game and playing a bit as well to understand the fundamentals only then will you be in a position to try and figure out what separates the different professional teams in a given match. It’s worth watching a tournament broadcast or two before taking a punt on betting on a DOTA 2 event – The International often has a special newcomer-friendly stream to offer, which might be a good starting point.

With 117 different heroes and a myriad of potential 5-player lineups plus an almost unquantifiable amount of items, it goes without saying that there are a truly impressive amount of variables in the game. Don’t expect to make money betting on DOTA 2 if you aren’t familiar with their dynamics – but on the flipside, if you are, you can truly get ahead of the bookies even when trying to figure out the favorites in high-level play.

Betting Tip #2Understand The Context Of The Event You’re Betting On

DOTA 2 Betting Tip Know The Event ContextOur DOTA 2 event previews always go into detail about the DPC standings for a reason: since every player’s ultimate dream in to compete at The International, it makes sense that the teams’ motivation levels are very different depending on how they’re doing in the rat race for the twelve guaranteed spots. If a team has already secured their invitation, maybe they’ll be a bit laxer in terms of practice regimen or willing to experiment with left-field oddball picks, potentially lowering their performance levels.

On the flipside, teams on the verge of qualification will give it their all, and rosters falling behind expectations are also likely to try their best in order to avoid getting replaced. The teams that won the previous important event may be eager to try and carry their form over to the next one, and the one that won at the same venue the last time around could be stepping up their game to defend their title.

While the prize money on offer and the professionalism of the players should always give them a reasonable baseline, human emotional dynamics like these are always going to matter in any sort of competition – and many like to take a sneak peek on the players’ overall playtime over the course of the last two weeks to figure out how seriously they’re preparing for a given event.

It’s a statistic that’s easy to manipulate but it could nevertheless be useful to know, if only to predict how the betting lines could potentially shift going forward. If a DOTA 2 pro is spending most of his time playing PUBG before a big event, his performance is likely going to suffer. It also goes without saying that majors are taken more seriously than minors, which are both infinitely more important to top-level teams than non-DPC tournaments.

Betting Tip #3Get To Know The Changes Behind Updates Or Patches

DOTA 2 Betting Tip Know The Changes On The Game UpdatesIf mechanical or gameplay changes were introduced recently to DOTA 2, figure out whether the event you’d like to bet on is up-to-date on those adjustment. A bit of research (or gameplay experience) should help you figure out how impactful they are from a competitive standpoint. The more recent and wide-ranging a change is, the more likely it is to impact the status quo and potentially increase the odds of an upset victory. The players’ social media presence and commentary can also give you a better idea about these dynamics – especially if they feel like they’ll lose a perceived or real edge off the back of an update!

Betting Tip #4Take Into Account Roster Changes Made On Either Side

DOTA 2 Betting Tip Understand Roster ChangesSince the teams are punished by a percentage-based DPC point deduction for any roster change they make, it’s clear that any player move is made after long consideration by any party in DOTA 2. In fact, the DPC circuit in the 2017/18 season was infamous for hard roster locks, punishing any team that made a player change before the offseason by entirely disqualifying them from the process!

Team cohesion is also extremely important in a game like these where so many potential roles and heroes are swapped around regularly between the different players on a given roster – and it’s no wonder that top teams like Team Secret and Virtus.pro have a well-established core that hasn’t been changed for a long time!

Of course, successful teams aren’t incentivized to make such changes in the first place, but this isn’t just a chicken-and-egg situation: there’s value in stability, and a roster change made out of desperation rarely takes care of all problems by itself. Logically, this means that a meeting of teams of a similar level of prestige favors the one with the more stable roster. A recently introduced new player may not yet had the time to establish himself in the team – either socially or gameplay-wise –, and the necessary change of strategies and communication protocols could mean there’s a very visible strain on their teamwork potential.

Betting Tip #5Discover Internal Problems Between Team Members

DOTA 2 Betting Tip Discover Internal ConflictSimilarly, any news reports of internal strife or disagreements in a team can be a red flag from a betting perspective. Just like how constant arguments can sour a work environment and make a team less effective, a DOTA 2 roster will also not be able to live up to its full potential if the team dynamics are not right. Maybe the best player of the side is angling for a move to a top organization or the results are not up to snuff and they’re not sure how to shake things up, or even personal issues between the team members.

Whatever the case may be, situations like these don’t bode well for a team in any eSport, but the emphasis of teamwork in DOTA 2 makes it even more important to remain up-to-date on these intangibles if you’re trying to make an informed decision from a betting perspective.

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Biggest DOTA 2 Tournaments To Bet On

The International

DOTA 2 The International TournamentWithout a doubt, the biggest tournament on the DOTA 2 calendar (and arguably the most important event in all eSports) is The International (TI), Valve’s annual mega-competition and by far the most prestigious international competition for the game. Held every year since 2011, now boasting insane prize pools of over 25 million dollars thanks to community contributions, it’s an eighteen-team ten-day long bonanza for fans of the game. Not only sanctioned but directly organized by Valve, The International is the absolute gems of the eSport calendar and all DOTA 2 pros’ top goal is to qualify for the event.

The International features two groups of nine teams duking it out in a grueling double round robin format where the bottom team gets immediately eliminated and the top four are granted an upper bracket seed for the playoffs. As such, the upper bracket route only takes four series to win while the entire lower bracket pathway totals up to seven – no matter how you make it your way to the finals and a chance to battle for the Aegis of Champions, it won’t be thanks to the luck of the draw. Not one team has managed to defend their title so far – though many have come close: whoever manages to do so will surely make DOTA 2 history.

While earlier editions of The International featured a lot of direct invitations, the system implemented over the course of the last few years directly incorporates the most prestigious events from the third-party scene into a dedicated circuit paired into minors and majors, five-five of which are organized over the course of a DPC season. These are also top-tier events with the world’s best teams that are absolutely worth considering betting on.

The Majors And The Minors

DOTA 2 Major & Minor TournamentsInternational is the most important event in DOTA 2. And since the results from the major and minor tournaments directly impact who gets to participate at The International, they are taken extremely seriously by the pro teams. Apart from the decent chunk of change on offer, the tournament prize pool also contains coveted DPC points. What does DPC refer to, you may ask? DOTA Pro Circuit, the set of events forming this cycle which culminates in the annual TI. If you can’t perform well in these tournaments, forget about the big one.

No direct invitations are handed out for these events – except for one, which we’ll get back to later –: the major qualifiers run first, and the teams that miss out on a slot in that event can try their luck in the minor qualifiers shortly thereafter. The only team that gets a direct invitation to the major is the one that ends up winning the corresponding minor, though I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s one they’ve definitely earned once they get there.

Since every team takes these events extremely seriously, the qualifiers are also worth mentioning as a potential betting opportunity: they usually take place around a month and a half before the actual event, and the scheduling gives a chance to those who missed out on the major to try again for a spot at the minors. Needless to say, competition is extremely fierce – no one would throw away their opportunity at the big shot.

Valve are known to tinker with their tournament formats from time to time, so it’s quite possible that the DOTA Pro Circuit will also see additional adjustments in the future – such changes can easily upset the fragile balance of top-tier competition. For what it’s worth, the current DPC setup seems to accomplish the dual goal of giving big tournaments the clout they deserve while also creating a system where both the consistently good performances and a few incredible outliers can provide a path to The International.

Which Non-DPC Events Are Worth Paying Attention To?

DOTA 2 Non-DPC TournamentsIt’s tough to match the prestige and the prize pool of the DOTA Pro Circuit, but there are still the occasional tournaments organized by industry stalwarts that are worth looking at. Tournaments organized by ESL, MDL (Mars DOTA 2 League), DreamHack, Beyond the Summit and other well-known companies usually make sure to put up enough money to attract some of the top sides in the scene, which means they are also worth following if you want to be absolutely up-to-date on the happenings of the DOTA 2 pro community.

How Is DOTA 2 Played?

DOTA 2 is a free-to-play team-based game in the MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre developed by Valve, the sequel to a Warcraft 3 mod known as Defense of the Ancients, officially released in 2013 to universal acclaim. The players are divided into two teams of five (named “Radiant” and “Dire) on an intricate battlefield where they start on opposite sides with the task of taking out their opponent’s Ancient, the most important structure in the game located deep inside their base, close to their own corner of the map.

It’s an incredibly deep and richly rewarding title, the complexities of which would fill multiple lexicons – as such, you’re advised to do additional research and perhaps play a few matches of your own before reaching this short summary of the game. It’s always really valuable to play the game in order to make better reason-based bets.

Get To Know The Characters – Playable Characters

Gameplay Mechanics Learn The CharactersEach player has the opportunity to select one of the 117 playable characters (all of them with different abilities) – for the match, creating a practically endless list of potential five-hero lineups for the team. While there are many different ways to categorize and describe these heroes, the simplest and most classical terminology is “carry” (also known as “core”) and “support” – the former slowly ramping up in strength into unstoppable forces of nature by the end of the game and latter designed to assist them along the way.

Carries have the powerful damage-dealing abilities and supports provide the buffs and, well, support abilities to get them across the finish line. If a hero dies, it’s temporarily taken out of the battle for a predetermined amount of time before they respawn and rejoin the fight.

Understand The Selection Process

Gameplay Mechanics Hero SelectionThe selection process is not a straightforward one: it is further complicated by a pick-ban phase. Before anyone gets to select a hero, both teams get to ban two from the pool. After that, they each get to pick two (in an A-B-B-A format) before banning two more. Another pair of picks follow (this time, an A-B-A-B format) before the final bans and the last hero choices for both sides, forming the final five-hero lineup.

These moves continuously limit the available options and synergies and can make or break a team’s strategy. Notable hero characters include Rubick, Anti-Mage, IO (a tournament stalwart with a low win rate in pub games), Lich and Earth Spirit, though it’s a testament to DOTA 2’s design that a list like this could conceivably feature over half of the hero pool, making it all the more complex.

The Map – Awareness, Lanes & Jungle

Gameplay Mechanics Map AwarenessThe battlefield itself is a symmetrical field where both teams start with a powerful base in one corner of the map. They are connected by three different “lanes” separated by a crossable river and forests (the “jungle”) which lead to the opponent’s fortifications. Two barracks are present at the bottom of each lane in both bases which spawn a stream of weak AI-controlled units (“creeps”) that automatically attack any opposing force or building along the way. To counter this, three towers guard each lane for both teams.

Over the course of the game, the heroes gain experience points to level up their abilities and gold to buy powerful items, eventually making them strong enough to successfully fight their way through the opponent’s fortifications, make it all the way to their base and destroy their Ancient. It’s easier said than done.

The map also features “camps” – small infestations of neutral creeps which will only engage you if you’ve attacked them yourself – and secret shops. Since you don’t have a full vision of the map – just like most strategy games, DOTA 2 also features fog of war where your team will only have up-to-date information on portions of the battlefield that is directly in the line of sight of your characters, there’s always the possibility for some strategic shenanigans. A day-night cycle adds complexity, amplifying or weakening certain abilities.

Objective Awareness – Roshan The Immortal

Gameplay Mechanics Roshan The Immortal ObjectiveRoshan the Immortal deserves a special mention: the most powerful neutral creep in the game resides in a specific part of the map, its own pit in the river that splits up the map. It is extremely powerful and essentially unkillable in the early game. Not only that, but it becomes more powerful as the game goes on, meaning it will almost always take a concerted team effort to take down the behemoth. Of course, committing your whole team to such a task leaves you extremely vulnerable to some sort of counterattack.

However, killing Roshan gives you incredible gold and experience rewards alongside the Aegis of the Immortal, which essentially grants an instant revival for five minutes for whoever picked it up or health and mana regeneration bonuses if it doesn’t get used up in the time period. Roshan gets to respawn after 8-11 minutes and provides additional rewards on further kills that can potentially win the match for your team.

DOTA 2 eSports Betting FAQ

How To Start Betting On Dota 2?

Choose a DOTA 2 betting site (you can see our recommendations below), sign up for free and make a deposit. From then on, navigate to the relevant eSports section on the site and search for the DOTA 2 games you’d be interested in betting on.

What Are The Best Dota 2 Betting Sites?

While many bookmakers offer DOTA 2 odds and a lot of DOTA 2 betting sites are still up, we recommend MyBookie and BetOnline. Their track record in the industry and many other betting offers make them a safe option for potential bettors. Our reviews gave MyBookie and BetOnline a 4.9/5 and a 4.8/5 rating, respectively.

How Does Betting Work In Dota 2?

DOTA 2 betting gives you an opportunity to wager on the success of your favorite teams in many different ways ranging from outright winners to the side that gets the first Roshan kill in a given game. The DOTA 2 eSports Betting section of this guide has additional details on the specifics.

What Do Dota 2 Betting Odds Mean?

Depending on the site and the specifics, you’ll usually find either moneyline odds (also known as “American” odds) or decimal odds. You can usually swap between these on the sportsbook’s interface. The former either features a negative number (like -200) to indicate how much you would need to bet on the team to win 100 units of money. This means they’re the favorites.

On the other hand, a +200 odds indicate that a bet of, say, $100 will net you a profit of $200. Decimal odds showcase the total payout instead, including your stake – in this form, the above examples would come out as 1.50 and 3.00, respectively.

There is no functional difference between the two: it’s up to personal preference which one you’d like to use. For more details about what handicap betting is and the other options available to you, please refer to the DOTA 2 eSports Betting section of this guide.

How To Make Money Betting Dota 2?

You’ve already made the first step! Knowing more than the bookmakers is important to win at DOTA 2 betting, and while that may sound like a daunting task, this is not like a visit to a casino where you’re guaranteed to lose money in the long run. Pay attention to the tournaments, read about what’s going on in the scene, who’s on a high and who’s on a low: it’s possible to gain edges just by being up-to-date on the DOTA 2 world. Comparing odds offered on different sites is also a nice way to gain an edge.

Sam Lee

Sam is a soccer and games enthusiast with years of experience in the industry. His favorite games are DOTA 2 and Overwatch and the favorite soccer team is Juventus. Sam's work has been featured in PC Gamer and Football Times. You can find his content at our eSports Betting and Soccer Betting hubs.