The biggest online games attract hundreds of thousands of players and spectators from all over the globe, and thanks to the inter-connectivity of the internet teams from Europe and can take on teams from Asia in real time without being in the same physical location. This has led to international video game tournaments taking place, or 'eSports' as they are also known.
Naturally, if it involves teams and competitions, then interested parties can bet upon the outcome of those competitions, and the success of individual teams. Betting on eSports is increasingly big business, and most successful sports books will allow you to place bets on all the major eSports meet-ups, whether they take place wholly online or in real-world arenas.
This article will give you the best eSports betting tips, and explain how you can get the most from your eSports betting.
Not all video games attract online interest. You're unlikely to find many lucrative online tournaments for Mario Super Kart, for example. Here we take a quick look at the most popular eSports titles.
Possibly the most popular eSport to wager upon, League of Legends (LoL) has been around since 2009. It's a battle arena game in which teams of competitors each summon a 'champion' with unique abilities that will help in the fight against the opposition. In a typical LoL bout each team will consist of five players. They will work together to destroy's the enemy HQ – known as a nexus – or kill off the opposition team completely.
Players face other challenges as they seek to complete their mission, and have other characters on hand they can influence to aid their cause. A match usually lasts between twenty minutes and one hour, depending upon the players involved.
Defense of the Ancients II (DOTA2) is a game similar in scope and style to LoL. It has been around since 2003, and began life as a modification of the popular quest-type game Warcraft. DOTA (and subsequent release DOTA2, released in 2009) is credited with sparking the whole eSports phenomenon.
Again, DOTA2 is a battle arena game involving two teams – the Sentinel and the Scourge. Each team's base contains an 'Ancient' – the building that must be destroyed in order for one team to win the encounter.
Unlike both LoL and DOTA2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) is not based in the realm of fantasy. Released in 2012, it's a first-person shooter game using modern warfare technologies. However, like both LoL and DOTA2 this is a two team game. The teams are the Terrorists, whom must plant an incendiary device or defend their hostages, and the Counter-Terrorists whom must prevent the bomb from being planted, or rescue the hostages. The other way of securing victory is to completely eliminate the other team.
There are other popular games used in eSports, but LoL, DOTA2 and CSGO are by far the most frequently played.
Like tennis and golf, there are major and minor eSports tournaments taking place all year round, and all over the world. Because of the very nature of eSports, players can watch from wherever they may be on the globe via their computers. Some of the bigger eSports tournaments are televised too – in July 2017 the BBC began to give live coverage of the Gfinity Elite League Series One on their online channel BBC Three.
Most eSports now have World Championships. The LoL World Championship, for example, runs until October every year. It began in 2011 in Jonkoping in Sweden with eight teams competing in the final tournament, and by 2017 it had expanded to twenty-four teams with Beijing being selected as the host, The estimated peak viewership for the LoL World Championships was expected to exceed fifteen million.
Aside from World Championships you'll find that eSports have both national and continental tournaments (especially in Asia and Europe) and selective invitational tournaments. In short, if you are really into your eSports betting you will easily find an event to wager upon, no matter the time of year.
Just as with any other sport, there are plenty of ways you can wager on any specific eSport event. Here we give you an in-depth look at all the common eSports markets that are available.
Outrights are the simplest form of bet. You pick a team to win a specific event, or a team to win a specific match. You can also bet on teams to reach the finals of tournaments, or the region of the winning team (betting tip: South Korea are to eSports as to what Barcelona or Real Madrid are to European football), or on the individual player whom is chosen as the player of the tournament.
Each 'round' in an overall battle for a LoL game (for example) takes place on a specific map, and the same applies for DOTA and many other eSports games. This has meant that a round in such games has become known as a 'map'. Each LoL or DOTA2 match consists of a 'best of five' contest, so the first team to win three maps wins the contest overall.
Therefore you can bet on a number of map-related markets. These will include the correct map-score for any individual match-up, the winner of any particular map in a contest, and the odds of a team winning at least one map, either over the course of a tournament or in any particular single contest.
This is a bet upon which team will draw first blood in a match – i.e. will be the first to kill a member of the opposing team. Kills against NPC (non-player characters) usually do not qualify as first blood kills.
The first blood kill usually happens during the first map – indeed it is very rare that a team wins a map without killing at least one member of the opposing team. Therefore you can also bet on first blood kills on the second and third maps as well.
You score goals in football, points in rugby, tennis and American football and runs in cricket and baseball. In the eSports world (at least in battle arena type games, or team first-person shooter type games) you score kills – killing members of the opposition team.
There are two main types of kill numbers you can bet on concerned with eSports – the first team to score ten kills (per map), and whether the total number of kills will be above or below a specific number. This specific number is different per contest, but is usually in the range of 15.5 to 20.5 – the more 'kill happy' the contestants are, the higher this number is likely to be.
As well as betting on the player who'll be voted player of the tournament, or the player who'll secure the most kills, you can also wager upon special 'match ups' that online bookmakers set up using the best players for the competing teams.
These match ups are fictitious and will have zero effect on the actual events, but they are good way of placing successful wagers if you spot an uneven match up where a talented player is up against a less talented one, and the odds given do not match the likely outcome.
While there are lots of similarities between specific eSports games, each of the most popular eSports have specific elements, and the best sites for eSports betting will offer markets for specific games.
For example in DOTA2 there are elements called towers, roshan and barracks. A tower is an automated defence construction that automatically fires at enemies when they are within range. A roshan is a powerful 'neutral creep' that does not fight for either side, but will engage in hand-to-hand combat with any fighter he encounters and usually wins. A barracks is a building that spawns extra NPC 'creeps' to enhance the chances of a team winning.
These three elements are crucial elements of DOTA2 game play, so you can wager upon which team will be the first to destroy an opposition tower or barracks, or to defeat a roshan.
If you are into eSports and wagering, or if you are just interested in wagering on eSports, then it is important to get things right when it comes to your choice of online bookmaker at which to place your eSports bets. Here are some things you will need to consider when picking out the right sports book for you.
As eSports is a relatively new phenomenon, sports books have been a little slow to embrace the concept of eSports wagering. As a result many sports books disregard eSports altogether or only have the simplest markets available, mostly outrights.
The best football bettors get the most from their favourite pastime by wagering on as many markets as are available, and that should be the same for eSports betting fans. If you are a true eSports fan then you will be the most successful in your sports betting if you have a wide range of markets to wager upon.
Therefore you will need to look for sports books that offer the most markets on the biggest number of eSports events. This is easy to do – you can see exactly which events and markets are available at any online sports book even if you are not a member. You can review what is on offer for eSports fans before you sign up for any online bookmaker.
It's true to say that eSports is still a fledgling phenomenon, and has yet to be taken seriously by those who don't understand how people can get excited by watching other people play video games. As a result, there's a genuine market for sports books of people who do precisely want to watch other people play video games, and bet upon the outcome.
Some sports books have been more proactive than others in attempting to recruit eSports wagerers, so you could benefit by looking for special deals and promotions offered by the leading eSports-friendly sports books. The best time to look out for such deals is during the final phases of world championships for all the various eSports games. While such promotions will not guarantee excessive riches, they will at least help the money you have available for wagering go that little bit further.
The best online sports books take good care of their customers, no matter if they bet on eSports or not. They should have a decent range of payment options beyond credit and debit cards (i.e. eWallets such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller), and live support twenty-four seven. You should also review independent customer testimonials of any site you are thinking of joining.
If you follow our tips above, you're more likely to enjoy a pleasurable and rewarding experience when you are betting on eSports.
For more details on the competitive world of eSports gaming, see our eSports betting guide for further details on wagering, bookies and promotions.