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People who wager on eSports tend to fall into two categories. The first are fans of video games, whether they play for money or just for enjoyment. The second are dedicated gamblers who are willing to wager on anything, as long as they think they have an edge.
No matter which of these groups you belong to, there’s a surprising amount of money to be made on eSports betting. The scene has exploded in the 21st century, and it continues to grow with each passing year. In this article, I hope to provide a better understanding of the phenomenon, as well as offering a few tips for success.
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What is eSports?
Simply put: eSports refers to video game competitions. More to the point, they tend to be first-person shooters, fighting games, real-time strategy titles, and multiplayer online battle arenas (known as MOBA). These games are classified as “mind sports,” and tournaments include teams of players from around the globe competing to achieve a higher score than their opponents.
Biggest eSports Tournaments
When it’s time to determine the best of the best in the world of eSports, you can expect a tournament to be held. Some of these events are smaller affairs, while others are held in stadiums and attract massive crowds. Live broadcasts of these events are becoming more common, with movie theaters and other venues showing them to a paying audience, as well as television broadcasts.
If you plan to wager on eSports, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about the major tournaments. In addition to live broadcasts, some offer huge prize pools and even yearly salaries to their competitors.
- The International – Sixteen teams from around the world are invited to this annual event that’s been going on since 2011. Devoted to Dota 2, the 2015 event set records for the largest prize pool in eSports history (over $18 million).
- LoL World Championship – Held since 2011, this annual event is devoted to League of Legends. Hosted by Riot Games and held at rotating locations, the event awards a 70-pound cup to the champion, as well as a check for $1 million.
- The Shanghai Major – Part of Valve’s Dota 2 Major Championships. Held in Shanghai, China, the 2016 event offered a prize pool of $3 million.
- Smite World Championship – An annual event devoted to the MOBA game Smite. The 2015 tournament was held in Atlanta, Georgia, and offered a prize pool of $2,612,259.
- Evolution Championship Series – Created in 2002, this annual tournament series focuses on fighting franchises such as Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Super Smash Bros.
- Call of Duty Championship – Usually focusing on the latest game in the Call of Duty franchise, this event is held each year in Los Angeles and offers a prize pool of $1 million. The tournament is comprised of eight teams, each with four players.
- Intel Extreme Masters – A series of global tournaments held in cities such as Dubai, Chengdu, and Los Angeles. A wide number of games are featured, including League of Legends, Quake Live, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
- Blizzcon World Championships – This annual convention is held in Anaheim, California to celebrate all things related to Blizzard Entertainment. A number of eSports tournaments are held during the event, including those for StarCraft 2 and Hearthstone.
Most Popular eSports Games
Before you can wager on eSports, you have to know the names of the games and what they’re all about. While this section only provides an overview of the most popular tournament options, it should give you a working knowledge of what’s considered hot at the moment.
- League of Legends – A combination of real-time strategy and a multiplayer online battle arena, League of Legends (often known as LoL) allows teams of fantasy-themed champions to battle each other. Professional teams exist across multiple continents, and over 25 million people play it each day.
- Dota 2 – Also known as Defense of the Ancients 2, this multiplayer online battle arena game pits two five-player teams against one another. Each team controls an ancient fortress, and the objective is to use various fantasy-themed characters (over 100 are available) to destroy the fortifications of the opposition.
- StarCraft 2 – A real-time science fiction strategy game, the StarCraft 2 franchise is debatably the most successful eSport to date. Teams compete with one of three races. It’s considered a national pastime in South Korea, with two TV channels devoted entirely to airing competitive matches.
- Smite – A multiplayer online battle arena game where participants choose a deity from pantheons ranging from Norse and Roman to Hindu and Chinese. Two teams then battle it out in various arenas, with each team comprised of three to five players.
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – This first-person shooter set in the second half of the 21st century combines elements of military action and science fiction. This is the first game in the Call of Duty franchise to be primarily developed by Sledgehammer Games.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – This first-person shooter is the fourth game in the Counter-Strike franchise. Set in the modern era, players join either a terrorist or counter-terrorist team. It’s still going strong, despite the fact that the original game was released in 2012.
- Hearthstone – Created by Blizzard Entertainment, this online collectible card game features turn-based matches between a pair of opponents. Set in the Warcraft universe, the game has over 40 million registered users.
- Heroes of the Storm – Blizzard Entertainment refers to this game as an online “hero brawler,” but most consider it a multiplayer online battle arena. The game focuses on five-versus-five combat between characters from various Blizzard titles including Overwatch, The Lost Vikings, StarCraft, Diablo, and Warcraft.
Where to Bet on eSports
A growing number of sportsbooks are accepting action on eSports, and a few sites deal exclusively with these events. Most games are team-based and of the MOBA variety, so fans of fighting games are often left out in the cold when it comes to betting.
Placing a wager is just like betting on any other sporting event. Sign into your sportsbook account, locate the bet you’re interested in, then click on the appropriate box and complete the transaction. If you choose wisely, you’ll find some extra cash deposited into your account.
Types of eSports Wagers
Most sports allow players to wager on goals, overall winners, and various other statistics that directly impact the outcome of the game. So how does this translate to eSports?
Well, eSports keep score like any other kind of competition, but the main way to wager is to choose between the two competing teams. You can bet on a team to win a single game, or you can pick the winner of a best-of series. In most cases, the sportsbetting sites use moneylines or fractional odds.
Competitions often take place on a number of maps, which are different settings such as a temple complex or forest. These maps present a wide range of betting opportunities, such as the following from a sample League of Legends match:
- The next team to slay a dragon.
- The first team to get a kill.
- The over/under on the total number of barons slain while on a single map.
- The over/under on the total number of towers destroyed on a map.
- Wagering on whether or not both teams can destroy a certain type of monster on a map.
- Over/under for total kills by both teams on a specific map.
Consecutive kills are also an element that sees plenty of betting action. In most cases, the bettor attempts to predict which team will be the first to score a penta (five) or quadra (four) kill streak.
Live wagering is a growing trend in the sportsbetting industry, and it’s no different for eSports. While two teams are locked in a fierce struggle for StarCraft 2 dominance, you can enjoy the match and make wagers based on the ever-changing flow of the game.
Of course, let’s not forget about proposition bets. You can wager on the winner of the Super Bowl months in advance, and the same holds true for major eSports tournaments. Depending on the sportsbook, you can also expect some truly bizarre betting options.
eSports Betting Tips
Just like any other form of betting, there are hundreds of factors that can be taken into consideration before placing a wager. Most people don’t have the time to run through every single possibility, however, so here are a few items to concentrate on:
- Current State of Team – Is the team well-rested and motivated? Has there been any internal strife? Has the team dynamic recently changed due to a new player coming aboard? All of these team-based questions should be asked before placing your wager. This admittedly requires some research, but it can pay major dividends.
- Check the Stats – When teams collide in a tournament, the results are recorded for future reference. This is helpful for the bettor, as it builds a clear image of which team has traditionally been dominant.
- Home Court Advantage – eSports tournaments are held internationally, and it’s much easier on a team when they don’t have to fly halfway around the world. A team playing in their home city also has a greater number of fans in attendance, which is something that should never be underestimated. The home court advantage is a major factor in other sports, so why wouldn’t it be the same here?
eSports has enjoyed a major surge in popularity since the beginning of the 21st century. Competitive matches are broadcast on television, and it’s not unusual to see prize pools worth millions of dollars.
As the sport has continued to grow, so has the practice of eSports betting. Just like any other form of gambling, bettors are able to wager on the outcome of events, from the winning team to the over/under on kills during a match.
Just because you’re betting on video games doesn’t mean it’s any easier to win. While wagering on eSports requires the same dedication as any other competition, it also offers the same potential for lucrative payouts.