The evolution of sports betting markets in the past decade has been extraordinary. Today, sports betting is no longer limited to professional athletes with pads and gear but has progressed to the virtual realm. eSports, betting on teams and players in popular video and computer games have exploded in popularity in recent years.
What exactly are eSports?
The “e” in eSports is short for electronic. eSports are best defined as a form of sports where the primary aspects are decided by electronic systems, such as a gaming console or a computer. The most common form of eSports is through multiplayer video game competitions.
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Rise of eSports
We’re sure many readers of this article remember in playing in a game tournament with friends or at a local gathering as a child. Gaming competitions and tournaments, whether online or offline, have long been a part of video game lore.
These competitions grew larger and larger, particularly in the early 2010s. There were now professional gamers who drew sponsorships and spectatorship of these events now skyrocketed. As of 2015, prize pools for these events are now in the millions of dollars, and they are still rising.
eSports gaming is most commonly played with four basic games types. These are real-time strategy (RTS), first-person-shooters (FPS), fighting and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). Arcade and sports games are also popular but have yet to gain the massive audiences of the above genres.
As of 2015, the two most popular games in eSports are both from the multiplayer online battle arena.
The first is Dota 2, which has a yearly competition called “The International.” The tournament had a prize pool of over $18 million in 2015.
The second is League of Legends (LOL), which is also a MOBA. Each yeah, the “League of Legends World Championship” is held. In 2015, the competition awarded the winning team a $1 million dollar first prize.
StarCraft II, which is from the RTS realm, also is extremely popular. Several first-person shooters, like Counter-Strike, the Call of Duty franchise and Team Fortress 2 are a cog below but have a strong following as well.
Available Betting Markets
Betting markets are available for all over the above games, with more markets coming on events that are higher profile, such as championship level tournaments with big money on the line. Betting on eSports isn’t any different than wagering on any other sporting event or betting market.
Betting on a team in eSports is the same as betting on the Yankees to defeat the Red Sox. eSports markets don’t have point spreads like football or basketball, but instead, use traditional moneyline wagering like baseball and hockey. Every sportsbook that offers eSports betting will have moneyline markets for the outright winners of each match.
For larger events, some bookmakers have already begun to add proposition wagers to their eSports markets. Which team inflicts damage first on their opponents is a “First Blood” wager, but it doesn’t stop there. Depending on the game, there are tons of props available for big events, such as the International and League of Legends World Championship.
eSports contests also almost always have a totals element. These are available in just about every match and come in the form of “total kills”, “game time” and so on. Again, these are no different than football or basketball totals, but the results are decided in the virtual arena.
eSports Betting Strategy
Though eSports betting is relatively new to betting markets, there is some strategy that we’ve already picked up on here at SBS. One aspect to remember is that eSports are still a relatively small market.
Betting limits will mostly be on the lower side at most sportsbooks. Even at Pinnacle Sports, the largest bookmaker in the world, the betting limits are still around $250-$500 on sides and totals. There’s still a lot of bookmakers don’t know about eSports. Betting limits will remain small until they assure themselves of mostly efficient markets.
This should be fairly apparent to anyone betting eSports. Teams use substitutions for a number of reasons. The most common situation is when a player has a visa issue and cannot get into the country to play in the event. Another instance is the case of being sick. One of the best sites to monitor this information is on a site like Ongamers.com.
It’s vital to understand the teams and be aware the strongest players when utilizing this strategy. If the substituted player is a top player, betting before the market adjusts can give you an edge on the sportsbooks.
However, it’s important not to bet blindly against a team simply because they are changing their roster. Depending on the player replaced, their odds of winning the tournament may not be affected much.
Bettors will need to act quickly to capitalize on this information to beat the market move. Interpreting the situation and placing your wager may need to be done in a matter of minutes.
Using Video On Demand
One of the best parts of researching eSports is that you have a ton of material available on demand, and best of all – free. Twitch.tv has thousands of hours of video on most of these teams, all of which can be easily viewable.
This is an excellent way to learn more about all teams, but particularly those who aren’t quite as popular as the more dominant squads. It’s a unique aspect of eSports betting that typically available for other sports, and it certainly isn’t free.
eSports are one coolest innovations of sports and sports betting in the last ten years. Sportsbooks still don’t know what to make of many competitions just yet, hence the low betting limits. For those that do their homework and act quickly when changes are announced to rosters, eSports can be one of the most profitable smaller market sports.