Published on September 18th, 2019 | by Sunit Nandi


Is Esports Betting The New Way Of Gaming?

The world’s leading betting sites have all embraced the recent esports revolution and wagering on competitive gaming is now a multibillion-dollar business. Bet365, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Pinnacle, Betway and 888 Sport are among the major bookmakers that have thriving esports sections. You will also find dedicated esports betting sites like Unikrn, which provide fascinating guides on how to bet on hugely popular titles like CS:GO, League of Legends and Dota 2, while even Betfair is getting in on the act. But how does esports betting compare to wagering on traditional sports?

First up, for the uninitiated, a brief overview on what esports actually means. It essentially refers to competitive gaming at a professional level. The thriving scene encompasses a wide range of titles, but there are two main genres: multiplayer online battle arena games and first-person shooters. League of Legends and Dota 2 are examples of the former, while CS:GO is the biggest first-person shooter, although Overwatch is also growing increasingly popular. Fighting games like Street Fighter V and sports titles such as FIFA are also part of the esports scene, while the battle royale genre is also muscling its way in, largely on the back of Fortnite’s commercial might.

Fans now pack out stadiums to watch big tournaments unravel, while millions of fans will stream the action on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. The leading pros are multimillionaires through prize money alone and they command enormous sponsorship deals due to the size of their fan bases.

You cannot really think of esports as one entity, as it is more of a diverse ecosystem featuring a number of different games and communities, many of which have little in common with one another. But the key points to remember is that this scene mirrors traditional sports in myriad ways, from the rich and famous superstars and dedicated fan bases to the players’ associations, training camps and assorted pressures.

The Rise Of Competitive Gaming

Competitive gaming has become a massive industry in recent years and a thriving betting scene has naturally sprung up around it. It is forecast to hit $13 billion in 2020 and competitive gaming has overtaken traditional sports like golf and rugby among some bookmakers.

Many industry insiders believe it will eventually challenge and possibly usurp football, tennis and basketball as its popularity continues to skyrocket. So how does it differ to typical sports betting?

On the surface, there are very few differences between the two. Odds compilers will price up a range of markets on a particular contest based on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of each team.

You can then bet on either team to win and on a draw if applicable. You will find handicap markets, also known as spreads, and totals bets, plus a wide range of exotic or prop bets. They include things like which team will slay the first dragon on Map 1, whether or not both teams with destroy an inhibitor on Map 2 or a race to five, 10, 15 or 20 kills.

You can find future esports betting markets that allow you to predict who will win a particular tournament and how well certain teams and players will fare. You can also bet in-play once a match begins, allowing you to stream the action live and make betting decisions as you go.

It is very similar to betting on traditional sports: instead over back over 2.5 goals in Liverpool v Real Madrid, you bet on over 2.5 barons slain between Dominus and LNG; instead of betting on the Yankees to win the World Series, you bet on Team Liquid to win EPICENTER.

The Key Differences

Yet there are a few key difference to keep in mind. Esports is still an immature market, as it only really grew in popularity once the rollout of high-speed broadband made everyone connected. Betting on esports is also only just finding its feet, so the odds compilers are not as experienced as they are in some traditional sports.

They also have less historical data to base their lines on. This can make it easier to beat them if you are an expert but the downside is that you cannot really find the same sort of limits that you would see on the likes of the Super Bowl and the Champions League final.

The biggest tournament of the year is The International, a Dota 2 showpiece, and Pinnacle announced last year that it would increase betting limits to $250,000 for the competition. It claimed that it represented the highest ever limits in esports betting, and that is likely, considering Pinnacle is a pioneer in the field of wagering on esports.

It means that wagers on low-key matches taking place unheralded teams at minor tournaments will have low limits. You will also find fewer markets than you might typically see on football or basketball games.

What Challenges Face Esports Bettors?

It is not always simple to access detailed information to assist you with esports wagering. You can find all manner of sites explaining the head-to-head records between two teams, the home and away records of each team, how well each one has fared against the spread and so on.

It is easy to access information about a boxer’s record, or the amount of runs a cricketer scores on average. This can be harder to come by within esports, but you can find a wealth of information if you take advantage of social media and forum posts.

Another issue with esports is that the games are constantly changing. Updates to popular esports titles can throw the competitive balance out of whack, rendering historical data largely useless. Rosters also change more frequently within the burgeoning world of competitive gaming than they do in traditional sports, so you need to keep an eye on big transfers.

There are a number of challenges for anyone that wants to get into betting on esports, but several core principles remain the same as with any gambling. Practice sensible bankroll management. Try not to bet when drunk, angry or chasing a loss. Do your research. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick one game and learn as much as you can about it, as each title is like a different sport.

It is impossible to be an expert in golf, boxing, tennis, hockey and greyhound racing, and it is equally impossible to be an expert in LoL, CS:GO, Rocket League, Overwatch and PUBG. The biggest esports have websites providing data about the teams, so it might be an idea to stick to one of the popular ones. And make sure you enjoy yourself, as wagering on esports can be a hugely pleasurable experience.

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I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.

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