Given the massive popularity of esports as a spectator sport both in person and online it was almost inevitable that the betting marketplace would soon follow. There’s always been a netherworld of video game players betting head to head against each other but the big surge in esports betting isn’t much different than wagering on any other professional sporting event. Bettors try to predict who will win individual matches at major competitive events as well as ‘futures’ bets on overall tournament winners. At present, there is a small but growing nexus of game titles that attract significant spectator interest which translates into betting interest. As esports grows, however, it’s only natural that more titles will have competitive scenes developing around them. In turn, this will result in more game titles added to betting boards worldwide.
The entire concept of esports is in its infancy including its presence as a spectator sport and betting topic. There are some sportsbooks that have done a good job understanding and taking bets on the nascent esports scene. There are also sportsbooks that specialize in esports to some degree. At the other end of the spectrum, some legacy sportsbooks have had a difficult time wrapping their head around esports. This means that in addition to the usual criteria for selecting an online sportsbook—reputation, promotions, bonuses, customer service, etc.–it’s essential to get a feel for their commitment to esports. If they’re just booking esports to have it on the board you might be better served to take your business elsewhere.
VARIETY OF ESPORTS OFFERINGS VARY FROM ONE BOOK TO ANOTHER
In light of sportsbooks’ disparate commitment and adoption of esports betting the variety of wagering options vary greatly from one to another. There are two ways that this will manifest itself—in the number of separate game titles with offered betting markets and the variety of bets within these markets. In addition, more esports savvy bookmakers will be quick to add new titles and bets to the board while analog era legacy bookmakers will be the last to do so.
The ‘big four’ in terms of esports betting titles are League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and Overwatch. Star Craft II: Wings of Liberty is likely title ‘4A’ on this list and some esports bookmakers will offer this instead or in addition to the previous 4. You’ll frequently see four of aforementioned five titles abbreviated as LOL, CS:GO, and SC2. For some reason, Dota 2 and Overwatch are typically not abbreviated. There’s also a second tier of games that might be offered at books with more extensive esports coverage. Hearthstone is just on the periphery of joining the top tier and you’ll see it on betting boards with increasing frequency during the yeas to come. Other games offered for esports betting are Heroes of the Storm, SMITE, Vain Glory, Call of Duty, Halo, Crossfire, Clash Royale and World of Tanks. Note that this is not an exhaustive list with other titles available at a limited number of books.
Once you get familiar with esports and the games being played the process isn’t much different than betting on sports. The most popular form of betting is match betting which is no different than making a moneyline bet in any other sport. Players pick the team or player that will win a match or event and wager on the favorite or the underdog. You’ll see ‘outright’ or ‘futures’ betting on major tournaments where players bet on the team or player to win the entire tournament, once again at varying prices. Sportsbooks with extensive esports coverage also offer proposition wagers on matches such as ‘Map Advantage’ and ‘Total Maps Played’ for Counter-Strike. Some sportsbooks are starting to offer live betting action on esports where you can bet on a match ‘in running’ just like a soccer or American football game.