Esports betting has developed into a massive industry over a very short period of time. Today, gamblers can place wagers on a whole host of e-sports events just as they would on traditional sports like football and tennis.
But what are e-sports, exactly? And why are they suddenly so popular? We will be answering these and other questions right here, to help you get to grips with the exciting world of e-sports betting.
In the simplest terms, an e-port is a video game that pits a person or team against another person or team. Literally any video game with this format can be considered an e-sport (though not all make it as recognised events).
In theory, a multiplayer game of Mario Kart is an esport. Human opponents are competing against one another, with skill being a very important factor. On the other hand, a single-player game like Assassin’s Creed or even the vintage Super Mario – where the computer is the opponent – would not be considered esports.
Video games have been around a long time, with the very first games making an appearance in the 1950s as simple, on-screen entertainment that captivated players for hours.
Classic games, that would normally have been played on a sheet of paper or a broad, like Tic-tac-toe and draughts, were the first to appear as commercially available video games. The inimitable Pong soon followed and video games started to gain popularity.
Fast-forward several decades and video game technology has evolved in leaps and bounds, with stunning graphics and increasingly life-like in-game physics giving players an exceptional experience. Combined with the power of internet connectivity, games soon started to reach far beyond the living room walls, connecting players who could be thousands of miles apart in a real-time, fully virtual interaction.
It may come as a surprise then that the very first esports tournament did not come about in the era of PS4 and Xbox One but way back in 1972. But it was most certainly an esports event if we consider the previous definition of two or more human players, competing against one another.
The first tournament in esports history took place at Stamford University, where students played a game called Spacewar. The prize was a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.
Two years later, in 1980, the first public video game competition took place. This one was based on the iconic Space Invaders game and drew a massive crowd of spectators. About 10,000 people looked on as players fought for supremacy in the Space Invaders Championship and intense media exposure brought the competition to the attention of many others.
From then on, video games competitions became more and more popular. In the 1990s, with the rise of the internet, competitions could take place between participants who weren’t even in the same room!
As tournaments got more exposure and became more popular, the prizes started to get bigger too. In 1997, 16 finalists made their way to the World Congress Centre in Atlanta, Georgia, where a huge event was about to take place.
About 2,000 participants had signed up and only 16 survived the series of one-on-one games of Quake’s Red Annihilation, a first-person shooter. After a hard-fought final, the winner took home the Ferrari 328 GTS cabriolet, previously owned by Quake lead developer John Carmack.
Weeks later, the Cyberathlete Professional League was founded and the first annual tournament took place later that year. Prize money reached $15,000 in some competitions, though this amount would be dwarfed quite quickly as the tournaments grew. It is possible for a skilled professional nowadays to make a comfortable living from this sport.
Today, watching others play video games is as popular a pastime as actually playing them oneself. The game streaming service Twitch lets spectators watch experienced players and listen to their commentary as they play. Twitch also streams live esports events directly to viewers’ computers, smartphones and televisions, further broadening the reach of these contests.
The first thing you will need to do before betting on one is choosing an e-sport. There are many games out there but not all of them will appeal to everyone. After all, football fans may not enjoy watching basketball and vice versa.
Understanding a little about the games on offer will help you decide. Create a Twitch account and watch a few rounds of any game you are interested in (and even some you may not have heard of) so you can figure out what it is you enjoy watching.
A title like League of Legends may be too complex for a newbie player. First-person shooter games like Counter-Strike are very popular, perhaps because they are so accessible to new viewers. If you have the opportunity to actually play any of these titles, you should do so – getting first-hand experience of what a game is like will help you understand what to expect.
Once you have decided what game you would like to bet on, it’s time to put some money down. Just like in traditional sports betting, esports events have odds. This numerical expression lays out the likelihood of a specific outcome i.e. a win or a loss.
If you have bet on sports before, odds will be familiar to you. Esports teams with low odds have a higher likelihood of winning, based on their past performance, individual player skills and all manner of other factors. A team or player with high odds of winning are less likely to do so but this also means a larger payout if a win occurs.
Sometimes referred to as moneylines, odds take different forms, though any format will represent the same odds. The betting platform you choose will let you view odds in whichever format you prefer, whether it’s American, decimal or fractional odds. It’s really just a matter of preference.
Odds tend to fluctuate, over time and between different platforms. It can be worth looking around for better odds, though keep in mind that they can shift in real-time so your meticulously researched odds may not be the best ones for long. Esports odds search engines can take the hassle out of doing all that research, so give these a look before you put make a bet.
So you have found a sports betting casino you like the look of, the odds are good and your favourite esport tournament is about to start. As always, we encourage players to gamble responsibly and we don’t half go on about it! But just as sports betting, poker or slots can set the stage for overindulgence, esports games can too. Always gamble in moderation and don’t be afraid to reach out for help and advice regarding responsible gambling.