Esports, or ‘electronic sports’ is a form of gaming that has found its place alongside football, basketball and other sports at a number of betting sites in recent years, prompting many non-techy outsiders to wonder what this is all about. Although esports has actually been around since the seventies, it is only in the last years that it has become all the rage, especially since people have discovered that it makes a great spectator sport. But what is esports? And how does esports betting work? In this article, we’ll attempt to explain all of this without making it sound too complex.
An esports game is one that is played on a computer or console, and in which individual players or teams compete against other players over the internet. These competitions used to take place mostly between amateurs until the late 2000s, when gamers started to become more professional and spectatorship increased as more channels became available. This led to tournaments with increasing prize pools, and eventually, online sportsbooks also started to offer odds on these tournaments, which gave rise to esports betting.
Esports games may be divided into different genres or categories. These include:
RTS – Real-time Strategy Games, where players aim to control units or structures to claim other areas within a virtual environment, and destroy their opponent’s assets, kind of like a war game.
FPS – First Person Shooter games, a three-dimensional shooting game that involves an avatar, one or more weapons and a couple of enemies.
MOBA – a multiplayer online battle arena, in which a player controls a character in a team to compete against another team, with the objective of destroying the other team’s base. Normally, there is one main structure to destroy in order to win.
MMORPG - Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, where players assume the role of a character in a virtual world, which feature a character progression system, either through battles with monsters or the like, or something else altogether, such as the accumulation of in-game wealth.
Fighting games – among the earliest games to be played in esports tournaments, fighting games take place between two players with the aim of taking away as many of the opponent’s lives as possible.
The most popular channels for following an esports tournament nowadays are Twitch and YouTube. Big tournaments also take place before live audiences in popular esports venues and arenas around the world.
Starcraft II – developed by Blizzard, this game was released in 2010 as a sequel to the original 1998 Starcraft game. Starcraft is an RTS game where two players collect resources, build their base and army and try to defeat each other. The game lasts for about 15 minutes, although there are strategies that may break an opponent in less than 10 minutes.
Dota 2 – originally developed as a custom game of Warcraft II, Dota 2 is a MOBA game where 5-person teams fight against each other by destroying defenses and ultimately, the opponents’ main building. Whoever manages to do this first wins the game.
League of Legends
Possibly the most popular esports game to date, League of Legends (LoL) was released in 2009 by Riot Games and is a MOBA strategy game, with a graphic layout that looks very much like a comic. Players take control of specific characters or champions, each of whom have unique abilities. They aim to collect experience points in order to progress up the levels and develop their skills. LoL has three main maps with a different terrain, objectives and victory requirements.
Launched by Blizzart Entertainment in 2013, Hearthstone is a two-player digital strategy card game where players have their own hero with 30 lives, and aim to reduce their opponent’s health to nil. Players can play Hearthstone for free or pay in order to acquire additional cards to use against their opponents on the board.
There are different leagues and tournaments that are run for every esports game each year. The prize pool for major tournaments runs into the millions, and there are huge sponsorship deals involved. Usually, the best teams participate by invitation from the organisers, whereas others compete in open qualifiers for a chance to make it to these big events. Below are some of the most well-known events:
League of Legends World Championships - a professional world championship tournament hosted annually by Riot Games, watched by millions of people (the figure was 60 million in 2017, and will probably only get bigger). Teams compete for the champion title, the 70 pounds Summoner's Cup, and a $1 million cash prize!
ESL (Electronic Sports League) - Tournaments and leagues for almost every game.
MLG (Major League Gaming) - The North American Football Federation, which organizes tournaments across America and Canada.
GSL (Global Starcraft League) - A global league created around Starcraft II.
IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) - Held since 2007, this competitions is between world's best gamers in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft II and other esport games.
DreamHack - A digital festival organised in Sweden, where you can play big money in a variety of games.
The International - The Dota 2 World Championships that take place every year.
Since nowadays you can bet on practically anything, it came as no surprise when sportsbooks started to offer odds on esports as well. The list of esports betting sites is getting bigger, and although the betting markets are still rather limited, we expect this to change in the very near future. Betting options vary according to the individual game, and the process works exactly the same as other forms of betting; you bet on an outcome (a winning team or player, or other on other in-game variable) by filling in the betslip with your desired stake.
The links found on this page will take you directly to online betting sites that offer esports betting. In order to play esports yourself, you need to download the software onto your computer. Fees for downloading vary; League of Legends is completely free, whereas other esports games require either a monthly fee or a one-time fee. Remember though, if you intend to become a professional and earn money from esports, you've got to have plenty of time on your hands! An easier way of profiting would be esports betting, although this still requires following a particular game very closely to get familiar with the gamers and their strategies.
Yet since esports seems to be here to stay, this might be worth your while, especially if you've always enjoyed action-packed video games! A world of fun and opportunity awaits all those who venture into the esports industry, whether as a gamer or as a punter.
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