The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the entire world into a standstill. Across industries, there is a halt due to the global pandemic of coronavirus, and the case is no different with the sports industry where the vast majority of sporting events are either canceled or postponed indefinitely. As stadiums, courts, tracks, and other sporting playgrounds are empty, avid fans have lost the opportunity to cheer for their favorite teams and support their idols. To continue providing our clients with the best of both worlds – sports and betting, SportMarket announces the introduction of a brand new service – eSports betting.
The history of eSports
First video game competitions took place in the early 1970s, although there were primarily amateurs who took part. As of the late 2000s, eSports have seen a sudden surge in popularity, as professional gamers started participating in the events that were also live-streamed to a huge spectatorship. During the 2010s, competitions came into the focus of video game development companies, who poured money into designing, funding, and promotion of eSports tournaments.
Although the position of eSports as regular sports is still disputable, they have been included in some sporting events in Asia. International Olympic Committee is also considering featuring eSports in future Olympic events.
By the late 2010s, eSports have attracted an audience of near half a billion people worldwide.
eSports’ top video games
Some of the video game genres dominating the eSports world are multiplayer online battle arena, first-person shooter, fighting, and real-time strategy. These yielded eSports’ top franchises – League of Legends, Counter-Strike, and Dota primarily. Among other favorites are Overwatch, Super Smash Bros., Fortnite, StarCraft, etc.
In 2019, the most-watched eSports tournament was League of Legends World Championship which attracted almost 100 million unique viewers. Fortnite World Cup Finals and Free Fire World Series closely followed. Among top video game competitions are also Dota 2's International, Evolution Championship Series, and Intel Extreme Masters.
Video game tournaments are experiencing a constant and rapid increase in the viewership count. For example, 2019’s Free Fire World Series saw a 650% increase in the average viewers number. eSports revenues (including media rights, merchandise, ticket sales, advertising, sponsorship, etc.) are expected to grow to near $2 billion by 2022.
League of Legends
League of Legends (abbreviated as LoL) is an online multiplayer battle arena video game, initially released in 2009. Players assume the role of a "champion" and fight against a team of other player-controlled champions. The goal of the game is to destroy the opponents’ "Nexus" - a structure in the heart of the competitor’s base.
LoL tournaments are organized by the game’s development company, Riot Games. Several regional competitions that take place in North America, Germany, China, South Korea, etc. culminate with the global championship event held annually as of 2012. Today, 24 teams compete for the Summoner’s cup and $1 million prize. League of Legends World Championship is the world’s most eminent eSport, whose popularity and viewership make it a serious competitor even of traditional sporting events, such as Super Bowl.
LoL regional competitions are currently taking place, with the championship finals, which date is yet to be announced, is being held in Shanghai.
Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena video game, released in 2013. It represents a sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA). Two teams of five players take the role of "heroes" who have unique abilities. Each team aims to destroy the opponent’s "Ancient" - a large structure located within the opponent team’s base.
The International, Dota 2’s global championship saw its 9th annual event in 2019. 18 teams fight for the crowdfunded prize pool, which, in last year, was $34 million. The final event usually takes place in August, though the exact dates for the 2020 event are yet to be announced.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is a first-person shooter video game, and represents the fourth installment in the Counter-Strike series. It was initially released in August 2012. Two teams - the Terrorists and the Counter-Terrorists – are playing against each other and are to eliminate the other while completing separate objectives, such as planting or defusing the bomb, rescuing the hostages, etc.
The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championships, commonly known as Major, is CS:GO’s eSports tournament in which 24 teams compete for the $1 million prize pool. The first Major took place in 2013, and the 2020 championship is to be held in November, in Rio de Janeiro.
eSports and betting
Although it was off to a rocky start, the eSports betting market is expected to reach $30 billion in 2020. Video game betting was initially informal, but it gained traction when eSports entered the mainstream. There are several types of eSports betting:
- Social betting
- Challenge betting
- Real money betting
- Skin & item betting
- Fantasy eSports
The first two, social and challenge betting, aren’t advisable for rookies in eSports betting. Namely, social betting implies placing private bets with other, usually unknown individuals, whereas challenge betting requires in-depth knowledge of the game itself.
Real money betting is quite similar to traditional betting on sports, i.e. using actual money. On the other hand, skin/item betting stands for gambling with virtual goods from the game itself. Those are usually cosmetic elements that aren’t influential on the gameplay and serve as a virtual currency. As for fantasy eSports, this kind of gambling involves a fictional budget you use for placing bets on teams, where punters get points based on their team’s in-game performance.
eSports betting also offers varied kinds of wagers, such as outrights, handicap, and total wagers, specials (betting on events within a match, though not necessarily the ones affecting the final outcome), correct score, etc.
Why bet on eSports?
Video game betting wagers are expected to rise an astounding 7360% since 2016, amounting to $23.5 billion in 2020. It’s a huge leap for a sport whose status as a sport is still disputed, and for a sport whose peak is certainly yet to come in future.
eSports industry has a promising future, thanks to the vast amounts of money invested in tournaments, advertising, teams, and game development, as well as the substantial increase in the number of professional players, avid gamers, and ardent fans.
Punters will enjoy the excitement-packed, fast-paced gameplay eSports offer. For first-timers, discovering favorite video games, mastering the game rules, and discovering favorite teams will bring a breath of fresh air from the traditional sports gambling.
Use your foresight abilities, and combine your passions towards gaming and earning. Join us on our new journey towards uncovering the realm of eSports betting.