To the outsider, video gaming may be seen as a mere pastime but there is a far more serious side. In the world of eSports, popular titles cross over into the professional arena where the best exponents take each other on with much at stake.
Life changing sums of money are on the line for the winners of major eSports tournaments around the world. Since the first official competitions started up at the beginning of the new millennium, the genre has developed significantly while associated industries have also started to benefit.
The very nature of video games offers a chance for two players to compete against each other. While there may be solitary titles, there are many games where the whole concept is based around outwitting your opponent.
The very first, official competitive match can be traced back to 1971. The University of Stanford was responsible for breaking new ground as a number of its students took part in the classic Spacewar game.
Similar competitions followed on an ad hoc basis over the next thirty years. A notable Space Invaders tournament took place in the early 1980s but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the professional circuit started to really develop. Counter Strike: Global Offensive remains a popular game to this day while in 2001 it became a true groundbreaker.
The first official CS:GO tournament took place with some $150,000 USD put down as prize money. These were serious sums which have since risen significantly. For the biggest global tournaments in CS:GO, DOTA 2, Fortnite and others, it’s not uncommon to see seven figure purses.
In short, the professional eSports circuit is a major success story but how has its growth benefitted other sectors?
Wherever there is official competition, it’s likely that authorized betting companies will be looking to get involved. In fact, there is a series of eSports markets already in place, even if there is a long way to go in this respect.
Any customer of the traditional online casinos or major online betting sites may already find an eSports section on the schedule. It may not be the biggest area of the overall platform but there will be a smattering of big tournaments on this list.
Other, lesser known sportsbooks offer more space to the eSports sector. More tournaments are covered and there is greater scope for those who follow these events in closer detail.
It is, therefore, a mixed picture in the early 2020s but it’s a situation that can continue to develop in the near and long term future.
So how does eSports betting work? In many ways, it is similar to its traditional sporting counterparts. There are tournaments including international events and World Cups and those sportsbooks who get involved will release odds based on the outright winner.
Similarly, eSports will have betting options for winners of individual matches. At this stage, the options are identical to those that would be found for football, cricket, tennis, rugby and many others.
ESports also provides opportunities for side markets which are known as props in some parts of the world. A good example of this sees bettors stake on individual stages - referred to as ‘maps’ by some titles.
Live betting is also attached to eSports tournaments. An in-play market is available once a match or tournament gets underway and, once again, this is a factor which is similar to traditional sports betting.
The most popular sports, most notably football, have far more of those side markets to consider. Options for staking on individual players, in bets such as first goalscorer, combine with team markets including Total Goals and Both Teams to Score.
The scope for markets is one key difference but there are lots of bets for eSports followers to consider.
While eSports has experienced clear steady growth since that CS:GO tournament in 2001, there is scope for traditional sports betting companies to provide much wider coverage.
What is clear, even in these relatively early stages, is that some sportsbooks are taking things far more seriously than others. In some cases, certain sports betting companies have underlined a commitment to professional video gaming by signing sponsorship agreements with the biggest teams and tournaments.
Others have a dedicated eSports website, beyond the tiny area that most companies give up to this sector. Anybody looking for a new eSports provider would be well advised to consider such an operator in the first instance.
Many betting insiders may find it strange that not every sportsbook has embraced the new phenomenon of eSports. Clearly, there are those that see this as a potential area for significant growth.
Others, meanwhile, are slow to produce eSports betting, beyond a handful of markets for the major events.
Operators could be well advised to compare eSports to a traditional sport such as football, which is now the most popular among the betting community. It generates significant revenue for the sportsbooks and, while eSports can’t quite generate as much attention, that could change in the future.
Video gaming belongs to a younger generation and it could well play a bigger part in betting’s future. Those who are prepared for the changes can take advantage while those sportsbooks who choose to ignore eSports may be setting themselves up to fail.
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