eSports Q&A: A Beginner's Guide to Betting the Exploding Genre

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SBR Staff

Monday, May 14, 2018 3:37 PM UTC

Monday, May. 14, 2018 3:37 PM UTC

Competitive gaming has exploded in popularity in recent years, and eSports are tipped to eventually usurp traditional sports such as football and basketball.

The biggest eSports stars are multimillionaires who enjoy global fame and fortune, high salaries, massive prize purses and sponsorship deals with leading brands. Dota 2, Overwatch, League of Legends, CS:GO and a few others account for the lion’s share of interest, but new games such as Fortnite are also thriving and helping to maintain the phenomenal momentum. eSports are only going to become more prevalent, and betting on them is becoming an extremely common enterprise.

Which books are best for betting on eSports?

Pinnacle has placed eSports at the center of its offering and it provides a wide range of markets on various games and tournaments. eSports betting has long since overtaken betting on traditional sports such as golf and rugby, and it is primed to challenge big hitters such as basketball. Pinnacle grades eSports games in a matter of minutes, and overall it offers the sharpest lines. However, it is always worth shopping around, as rival books bid to seize a bigger slice of this burgeoning market by offering competitive odds on specific games. Bovada, Nitrogen, Intertops, Unibet and Betway all have thriving eSports offerings. As with traditional sports, you can bet on who will win various matches and place futures bets on tournaments. You also can find prop bets.

Where can you watch eSports?

Many fans pack stadiums to watch eSports live, at events such as DreamHack and ESL. But the majority of viewers stream matches and tournaments via Twitch, Mixer or YouTube on phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Just Google “Twitch,” “Mixer eSports” or “YouTube eSports” and you will be taken to the home page, where you can choose from a huge array of streams. Many of them are gamers streaming their own contests, often providing colorful commentary along the way, and there is a lot to sift through. However, if you simply choose official channels, such as CS:GO or Rocket League, you will be directed toward big matchups that you can bet on. You can also sometimes watch the biggest contests on TV; ESPN and TBS have aired tournaments.

What are the top games?

Dota 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2) has the most fans and the biggest prize purses, with more than $37 million dished out to leading teams and players in 2017. That is growing every year and helping drive the overall prevalence of eSports, by legitimizing it as a sporting pursuit. Olympics organizers are even considering including eSports at upcoming Games. Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena game developed and published by Valve Corporation. League of Legends is the other big one, while Overwatch’s popularity is skyrocketing. Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft, Heroes of the Storm, Street Fighter, PUGB and Fortnite are also massive, while NBA 2K and FIFA are growing their footprint all the time.

What are the biggest tournaments?

The Dota 2 International is the biggest tournament of the year, with prize money totaling $24.7 million in 2017, shared between 18 teams and 90 players. The LoL World Championship is the other big one. The Majors series, which takes place around the world in cities such as Boston, Frankfurt, Manila, Kiev and Shanghai, is also huge, and the betting opportunities on these tournaments are vast. Halo’s World Championship and Call of Duty XP Championship have also proved very popular. LoL has a fiercely contested Mid-Season Invitational that is also worth looking out for. CS:GO’s eLeague Season is also worth keeping an eye on.

Which teams are worth looking out for?

Team Liquid won Dota 2’s International 2017, making captain KuroKy the highest-earning eSports star of all-time. Other big names from across the world that are worth mentioning include Evil Geniuses, Newbee, FaZe Clan, Cloud9, Fnatic and Wings. The big teams have huge and talented rosters, and they compete in a wide range of eSports. But one thing that makes eSports so exciting is that new and extremely talented teams can spring up at any time and topple the giants, as it is such a fresh and exciting enterprise.

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