First published in 2000, the Counter-Strike series finally found its footing as one of the world’s biggest esports with 2012’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). It is now one of the world’s most popular esports and is one of the most lucrative for the professional organizations and players that take part in its many annual competitions.
As with all high-profile esports, match betting on CS:GO is very popular. This guide will help you understand how this type of betting works and where you can go to take part in it.
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What Is CS:GO Match Betting?
So you’ve been following all the major and minor tournaments, and you’re absolutely certain that you know which CS:GO team is going to become the Premier Champion this time out. If you’re laying your money down on it, that’s a CS:GO match bet.
Match betting in esports is really no different than betting on traditional sports at all sorts of online and offline sportsbooks. Wagers are available on things like the overall winner of a tournament, the winner of an individual match, or the first player to reach a certain number of kills in a game.
If you’re totally new to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, stop by our general “About CS:GO” page to brush up on the basics of the game.
CS:GO Match Betting Options
So, where can you go to bet on CS:GO matches?
The vast majority of esports betting is done online. There are some traditional sportsbooks in brick-and-mortar casinos that offer esports bets (mostly in Las Vegas), but it’s still seen as something of a novelty by the old-school gaming industry, and they have been very slow in catching up with demand.
Your options for online sportsbooks with CS:GO matches will depend on the laws where you live (or are currently visiting). In a country with legal online betting (such as the United Kingdom), you’ll find quite a few big-name betting shops offering CS:GO match betting.
Of course, many readers are in the United States, and the picture gets a little more complicated there. The Supreme Court declared in 2018 that states can individually legalize online sports betting, but not all have opted to. And of those that do, esports options can be limited. For example, New Jersey is one of the most robust online gambling markets in the country, but for some reason, it has opted to ban esports betting specifically even though other types of sports betting are now legal.
Despite the restrictions, there are still online CS:GO betting options available to United States esports bettors. Most of these are based in other countries where online gaming is legal. CS:GO bettors need to exercise caution with these sites, which is why we provide our lists of the best and most reputable outlets for esports betting that are currently available.
Types of CS:GO Match Betting Wagers
We mentioned betting on the winner of a single match or a whole tournament. These bets have an “odds line” attached to them. That’s the number you see after each team name, and it tells you how much money you stand to win from your bet. If you’d like an in-depth explanation of how moneylines work (as well as other types of bets), check out our esports betting tips page. The key thing to understand is that you’re almost never just doubling your money by betting on the winning side; the percentage you win back depends on how heavily favored one side is over the other.
While match and tournament winners are the most popular and common types of bets, they are not the only options. Some other options include:
- Winner of a particular round
- Team or player with the most total kills
- Over/under on the total number of wins, kills, or aces
- Whether or not an ace will occur
- Number of bomb plants and/or defuses
In addition to the CS:GO gambling sites we’ve listed here, there is also the option of skins betting. Though it is possible to bet CS:GO skins on match results, this evolved more as a way to do casino gaming without directly involving actual cash. Skins betting mostly falls outside the scope of match betting, but if you’re interested in it, you can take a detour to our page on the subject to learn more.
How CS:GO Matches Are Scored
Every CS:GO map is a battle of a terrorist group vs. a counter-terrorist squad. Each match sees the teams take turns playing these roles in a series of 30 rounds.
Either side can win a round simply by killing every member of the other side. There are alternate win conditions, however. The terrorists can win by planting a bomb at a certain location and defending it until the timer runs down. The counter-terrorists win if the round ends without the terrorists successfully detonating a bomb. While this might seem like the counter-terrorists usually have an advantage, the terrorists are able to win even if the entire team is dead if a planted bomb goes off before it can be defused.
Winning a round gets the team one point. The first team to reach 16 points wins. It is possible for teams to reach a 15-15 draw; in an elimination tournament, this will usually send the game to overtime. The most common format for overtime is an MR3 (each team plays three rounds per side, and the first to four points wins) or an MR5 (each team plays five rounds per side; the first to six points wins).
Major CS:GO Teams and Organizations
The biggest esports organizations in the world tend to field teams in multiple popular esports. And since CS:GO is one of the most popular esports, many of them are involved with the game.
Teams do come and go over time, but there are some “big names” that have proved they have staying power (and consistent funding). These include:
- Team Liquid
- FaZe Clan
- G2 Esports
- NRG Esports
- ViCi Gaming
Team fortunes will wax and wane from year to year, and buyouts and mergers do happen sometimes. These are team names you can consistently expect to see at the highest levels of CS:GO competition, however.
CS:GO Competition Structure
The Counter-Strike series has a longer history than many other esports. CS:GO came out in 2012, but people were competing in previous iterations before that. That means a pastiche of different leagues and tournaments that can get somewhat confusing to newcomers; there isn’t really one central season or league structure that the entire professional scene revolves around.
You can roughly divide this collection of tournaments and competitions into three groups: Premiers, Majors, and Minors.
- Premiers are the biggest events with the biggest prize pools and are almost exclusively played on a LAN at an esports arena
- Majors have smaller (but still substantial) prize pools, and early rounds or qualifiers sometimes take place online
- Minors have the smallest prize pools and are often held entirely online
Most online CS:GO betting action is centered on the biggest premier and major tournaments of the year.
Some examples of these include:
- Intel Extreme Masters
- World Electronic Sports Games
Teams aren’t locked into any of these on an ongoing basis; they can pick and choose which ones they want to qualify for and enter from year to year. CS:GO is high up on the list of the highest-paid esports games, so there are lots of opportunities.
Some of these tournaments tie into the annual CS:GO Major Championship, which is sponsored by game publisher Valve. These events tend to be the biggest of the year, with a prize pool of at least one million dollars. Valve determines the structure and rules of these games, but each is independently organized. The majors feature the top eight finishers from the previous year’s major plus another eight teams that qualify based on their performance in minor competitions.
“Minor” tournaments are only small in terms of prize pool; a lot of the big-name teams compete in these regularly during the downtime between the larger tournaments. The two major ongoing series of smaller weekly tournaments are ESL Pro League and ECS. There is also ELEAGUE, which is a unique case, as the matches are broadcast on TBS (which means that teams have to travel to their studios to play these games).
CS:GO Betting Strategies
Much of the good advice that is applicable to esports in general also applies to CS:GO match betting. If you’d like a good primer on that, check out our general esports betting strategy page.
As with any type of esports match betting, it’s going to take some dedication to following the professional CS:GO scene and learning the ins and outs of the game to consistently win money.
Every CS:GO bettor should start by actually playing the game if they haven’t already. If you don’t play video games (or FPS games), this can seem like a daunting step. Fortunately, Valve has released an offline-only version of CS:GO that lets you practice against computer-controlled foes. Better yet, this version is free! It’s a great way to get a feel for the game and get comfortable with it before jumping into online play against other people.
You don’t have to be a high-ranked CS:GO player to be a successful bettor; you just want to play enough to have a good intuitive understanding of the concepts you’ll see discussed in match analysis.
Finding Value in CS:GO Bets
A “value” bet is one where you believe the odds are in your favor. For a great general guide to the concept, check out our page on it below.
It’s also a good idea to check out our guide to general sports betting tips, as these concepts are the core ones you use to analyze matches and figure out where the value is.
Esports bettors who are consistently able to identify value are profitable over the long run. CS:GO is a great esport for value betting, as there are so many different tournaments and competitions throughout the year.
Mastering CS:GO Match Betting
Though it’s been around for a long time, both gamblers and oddsmakers often still have an imperfect understanding of the game. That means lots of opportunities for the bettor that keeps up with the high-level CS:GO competitive scene. Hopefully, this guide has demonstrated the best options available for your CS:GO match betting and has opened your eyes to the possibilities!