How to bet on esports
Esports betting is one of the fastest-growing segments of the gambling industry and is expected to continue growing rapidly for many years.
For those who are new to the scene, esports is professional video gaming, and the betting aspect of it comes across multiple games and the pro leagues and tournaments that are held on a daily basis around the globe.
The hotspots for esports are North America, most of Asia and many countries in Europe. This article will run you through everything you need to know to become a pro esports punter over the next 20 minutes, or at the very least give you a grasp of how the scene operates.
Getting started: How to place a bet on esports
Esports is dragging in a new breed of sports bettor: younger, predominantly male and very analytical in their approach to wagering. Generally the millennials betting on the various options at online betting sites will be massive fans of the games and following the money is one likely way to taste success when dipping your toes into esports for the first time.
Find an esports betting site
The World Gambling List always recommends betting with regulated sportsbooks, preferably in the country you are based, although that is not always possible, particularly in the case of sports bettors in North America and other markets with strict laws.
Some of our favourite betting sites for key markets include:
North America: BetOnline
Oceania: Sportsbet, BetEasy
Other factors to consider when choosing a betting site
It’s important to find a betting site with a good reputation that accepts players from your jurisdiction, with many regulated bookies having country restrictions, meaning if you are based in a certain country you cannot sign up. The following are all things you need to consider when making your selection.
- Does it accept bettors from my country?
- Does it have the right deposit options?
- Does it have the esports I’m looking for?
- Does the betting site have customer service?
- What is the reputation of the website like?
- What does the bookie’s verification process involve?
- How does the gambling company allow withdrawals?
What games are popular for esports betting
Esports is such a broad term and is continually evolving as developers release new games. Surprisingly it is not the head-to-head traditional betting games such as football, basketball and other sports games that draw the most attention. Rather it is first person shooters and strategy games like League of Legends and World of Warcraft that are at the forefront of the industry. In no particular order these games are all available to bet on at various sportsbooks:
League of Legends: Referred to as LoL and is played online in a battle arena by multiple players. This Riot Games title is available on both Mac and Microsoft Windows. The Champions Series, played across five continents, and the various one-off yearly tournaments are a highlight of the esports calendar.
Dota 2: Released by the Valve corporation for Windows and Linux in 2013, Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena title with a massive following in esports, although it has had its following tempered somewhat in recent years. The basic premise is teams of five defend their base and attack the opposition’s. Major tournaments are played most months of the year, both online and in the flesh.
CS:GO: Is a first-person shooter that is an offshoot of the original Counter Strike titles which are going on 20 years old. Does not have the massive Asian following like League of Legends but it does have a rusted-on fan base that is unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon.
FIFA: The FIFA franchise is hugely popular in football circles and while not a huge betting game yet, the signs are there that it will explode at any time with many of the major football teams from Europe and the United Kingdom setting up their own esports teams to compete.
Hearthstone: Hearthstone was originally known as Heroes of Warcraft and still has many recognisable elements. Originally released in 2014, this game is a free-to-play online digital collectible card game that definitely takes some mastering. The beauty of this game is that it is cross-platform, meaning people on different operating systems can compete against each other.
Overwatch: A multi-player game which is a first-person shooter game released by Blizzard Entertainment in May 2016. Has a massive following on the esports circuit and is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and Windows. Basically two teams of six duke it out with players having a choice of more than 30 characters with different skill sets. Has a bit more of a kiddy feel than other games in the same genre.
Starcraft 2: Is one of the most well-known esports games and is another by Blizzard that has been around since 2010. Available on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, Starcraft 2 is the sequel to famous Starcraft which was released in 1998 – it has surely come a long way since then and is one of the ultimate strategy games.
Smite 2: Smite is a free-play multi-player online battle arena game, which was released by Hi-Rez Studios and is available on Windows, Mac, PS4, Nintendo Switch and XBOX one. It’s another team-based game where you go up against other players as mythical figures. Is heavily tactics oriented. The Smite World Championship has a prize pool of over $US1 million.
Vain Glory: Vain Glory was originally a popular mobile game available on both Android and iOS devices, before a Mac and Windows version was released in mid 2018. Released by Super Evil Megacorp, teams of five players fight for turf, while there are also computer-controlled enemies you must stay on top of. The definite highlight of this game is the ability for players on different platforms to play simultaneously.
Call of Duty: Another popular first-person shooter with a number of different game modes. In terms of esports, either players battle it out to get the most kills on a massive multi-player map, or teams fight to defend and attack bases in small teams. The game is probably more popular with the casual player than hardcore esports fanatics.
Halo: One of the most popular games of all time, Halo as an esport is still thriving, although does not have the huge prize purses of some of the other games out there. Released by Microgaming, Halo is a first-person shooter which strongly relies on a futuristic, science fiction theme with players fighting an interstellar war which seems to have strongly borrowed some of its themes from the great writers in this niche.
Cross Fire: At one point in 2014 Crossfire became the most played game of all time and there are plans to breathe new life into the franchise (which also had a feature movie made based around it) with a second title. This Windows title is a first-person shooter that pits groups of players against each other as either “Black List” or “Global Risk”. The game has plenty of different modes but it is definitely the team-based game that has captured an esports following.
Clash Royale: Developed by Supercell, Clash Royale mixes many of the best elements of other games, including multi-player online battle arena, tower defense and collectable cards. Released in 2016, Clash Royale quickly emerged as a fan favourite for both iOS and Android devices.
World of Tanks: Released by Wargaming, WoT features tanks and other combat vehicles from the mid 20th century. Game runs on a freemium model although to really excel at the game you have to unlock some of the “premium” features. There are different versions of World of Tanks with these being available on mobile devices, Xbox and Playstation. The game does have some esports leagues and tournaments and has betting available at some dedicated esport betting sites.
Rainbow Six: Siege: Is the 13th version of this great tactical game to be released and has a pro esports league based around it. Released by Ubisoft Montreal in 2015, Siege has great gameplay where you have to be hyper-aware of your landscape and your teammates, with the ability to stay in sync with your teammates one of the real highlights. Expect this series to keep churning out titles, so it’s hard to see it failing as an esport any time soon.
NBA 2K19: The latest in the NBA 2K series is 2019 and it continues to improve. The 2K pro league features franchises from all over the globe although it is still in its infancy and there are qualifiers being played all over the place. Expect this game to be a main player in the esports world in the coming years as it taps into basketball’s huge fan base.
Finding the best esports odds
Esports is one of those areas where if your finger is on the pulse you can pluck a longshot winner. Put it this way, every now and then a new kid (I almost mean this literally) comes along and eclipses the competition. This means you can find some great value when betting on esports. But on the other side of the coin is the fact that often betting sites will have slim odds on games because quite frankly they have no idea who is going to win and their results databases don’t have the depth of information like they would on a mainstream sport.
Well-known esports betting website Unikrn is on record saying that in the early days they really struggled setting markets, because they couldn’t fall back on third-party sources to provide the data to realistically set a market. Instead they were forced to set the markets on games themselves by slowly building their database which led to some serious teething and cash flow problems. But the market in 2019 has grown to a point where we are starting to see more value in games.
The website with the best odds on the event you want to punt on will largely come down to where you are based in the world. For instance, if you are in the USA you might find there are limited options, including in New Jersey where sports betting is legal. Basically there are only a few offshore sportsbooks with esports willing to accept USA punters, and even in the states where betting is legal, they still have not cottoned on to the rapidly expanding esports industry.
Bet types on esports
The youth of the esports wagering industry means in comparison to developed sports betting pursuits like various football codes and games like cricket there are few betting markets. Generally the betting options on each match will be restricted to head-to-head betting, moneylines and in some cases map betting, although this is beginning to change on some of the major events. For instance Bet365 has started to release futures markets on major events and many more betting options on games that are already under way.
While we will go into much greater detail about the different bet types available on esports in future articles, you will generally be able to play parlays or multibets on esports events, which is a great way to find some value on often predictable betting markets. Put four or five certainties together and suddenly those short-priced favourites are giving you a nice payout.
How to watch esports
One of the beautiful things about punting on esports is that most of the professional leagues stream their events live via one of the many streaming websites such as Twitch and Youtube. The biggest and most popular place to watch esports is Twitch which has over 100 million viewers monthly, crazy numbers considering viewership of some of the major sports around the globe.
If you are keen to watch some esports action in the flesh there is every chance that a major city near you will be hosting events in the not-too-distant future. A good place to start is by visiting your favourite game’s official website and seeing if they have any upcoming tournaments or events in your area.
Esports facts and figures
- Esports is booming with the industry estimated to be worth as much as $1.38 billion in 2018, with this up about 15% from the previous year, according to figures released by Newzoo. This growth has come on the back of more professional leagues, new games and high-profile investments from people like Drake and sports teams like Barcelona FC.
- The esports industry in Asia was estimated to be worth $328 million in 2018.
- The esports industry in North America is estimated to be worth $275 million in 2018.
- The esports industry in Europe is estimated to be worth $269 million in 2018.
- It’s estimated the global esports industry has a pool of over 300 million viewers in 2018.
- About 40% of esports viewers don’t even play the game they watch.
- About 85% of esports viewers are male millennials.
- About 46% of esports viewers are aged between 18 and 25.
- Dota 2 players dominate the highest e-sports winners of all time, with the no.1 on the list being Kuro Kuroky Takhasomi with close to $4.5 million in prizemoney alone.
- Users spend over 80 million hours per month watching esports on Twitch
How to fund an esports betting account
This can be one of the most challenging aspects of betting on esports, with many people still reluctant to give their bank details to offshore gambling websites in 2019. However, this is not something that you necessarily need to fear with plenty of safe and reliable ways to money up. The solution for you is understanding the gambling landscape in your country. Do you have regulated esports betting options? If you do you are much better off using these options because you will have protection from your country’s licensing body. If you don’t you will have to bet offshore which can still be a good option if you choose wisely.
You will find the following deposit options are common at esports betting sites: