An introduction to Esports Betting

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Including the distinct types of esports bet, and how it differs from traditional sports betting.

There’s a packed-out sports arena filled with tens of thousands of screaming fans. In the center are two dozen young men, in the prime of their lives, all members of opposing teams competing for fame, glory, and wealth beyond their wildest dreams.

But this isn’t a soccer stadium or an ice hockey arena, and those two dozen young men – a couple of them are actually women. There are no divisions between gender in these sports.

This is the Intel Extreme Masters, the longest running global professional esports tournament. The competition was started in 2006 by a German company known as ESL (formerly called the Electronic Sports League) who are both an esports tournament organizer and production company. They are the largest esports company in the world, and the oldest one to still be operational in 2021.

If you had told me 20 years ago that gaming would eventually become a career choice, a genuine sport, or an alternative to betting on horses or greyhound racing, I would never have believed you. In fact, I’d probably have laughed at the idea. And yet, here we, in 2021, with many bookmakers such as Unibet Canada offering odds on which team will emerge victorious as the world champions of League of Legends.

Current estimates of the size of the esports betting industry already put the figure somewhere in excess of a billion dollars, and this is expected to rise to over two billion within the next three years.

The most common types of esports bet

When placing a bet on football or baseball, you aren’t limited to simply betting on which team will win the entire game. Perhaps you would rather bet on which player will be the first to score a goal or home run, or which side will be in the lead at half time? Numerous options are available to you, and the same is true with esports too.

Nevertheless, it is the more straightforward types of bets which tend to have the greatest amounts of money staked on them. In the world of esports, these can include:

Tournament Winner

Just as in traditional sports betting, placing a wager on which team will go on to become the winner of an entire tournament is a hugely popular choice amongst bettors. You can place these types of bets well in advance, long before the tournament has even begun.

The earlier you place your wager, the better the odds are that you are likely to get. This is because the performance of each of the participating teams is difficult to predict far in advance. The current champions in a particular game will likely have the lowest odds at an early stage – are they a safe bet? Or could another team be honing their skills day and night with the intention of stealing their crown?

Do your research, and perhaps you will find an up-and-coming team that has extremely long odds from most bookies, but a decent chance of winning a tournament in the future. This sort of team should be your target for this type of bet.

Match Winner

This is a more flexible option than betting on the outcome of an entire tournament and is very popular because it allows you to watch the outcome of previous matches before making a prediction on who might win the next one.

Of course, if one team is completely dominating then you are unlikely to get great odds by placing a bet on them to win their next match as well.

Game Specific Bets

Some games might have specialist betting options that aren’t possible in other titles. It’s much the same as the fact you can’t place a bet on who will score the first touchdown in a soccer game – the result simply isn’t possible.

Here are a few examples of specialist bets and the types of game that they apply to:

First Map

Video games usually consist of multiple levels, and in first person shooter games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, these levels are referred to as maps. If a match is to take place on a predetermined set of maps, and you know that a particular team is especially proficient on one of those maps, you can use this knowledge to place a bet on the outcome of the specific map.

First Kill (also referred to as First Blood)

Another popular type of bet used in first person shooters such as Call of Duty is the First Kill. Whilst there is some degree of skill possible in making a selection for this type of bet, there can be a lot of luck involved in who will manage to achieve the first kill in a video game.

As always, doing your research will help, and it is definitely possible to make a good profit from this type of bet if you know your games and teams well.

Odd/Even and Over/Under Bets

We’ve now gone from First Map bets, which are regularly influenced by specific knowledge of teams and game levels, to First Kill bets, which, whilst not an exact science, can still benefit from having a deep understanding of the participating teams and the maps on which they are competing.

The next step after this are the odd/even and over/under bets. Different bookmakers may choose to make this type of bet available on a range of different factors, for example:

  • Number of kills
  • Number of maps won (or lost)
  • Number of shots fired
  • Accuracy of shots fired

Some odd/even bets can be considered just as random as betting on odd/even on a roulette wheel. For example, no matter how well you know your favorite team, do you really think you can accurately predict the number of rounds they will dispatch during the course of a specific map?

Making such a prediction is impossible to do with any degree of accuracy, and yet gamblers still have fun making these types of wagers. The problem is, with only two possible outcomes – an odd or even number – you can’t make a great deal of profit by placing this type of wager alone.

If you are already making a bet on your favorite team to win the first map, however, then you could turn your bet into an accumulator by adding one or two odd/even style bets to your betting slip. Guess correctly, and you could double or even quadruple your winnings.

More Complex Bets

Once you are familiar with the basic bets described above, you may wish to investigate more complicated options such as Handicap Betting, System Bets, and the aforementioned Accumulators. In-play betting is also an option when placing a bet on esports, as is the early cash out feature that has become extremely popular during the last decade.

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