For several decades, the concept of betting was inherently tied to traditional sports only. Betting shops were essentially an extension of grassroots football culture, but the appearance of online bookmakers in the mid-2000s changed everything. Not only did sports betting suddenly become accessible to everyone, but this rampant digitalization led to the birth of eSports betting, too.
Contrary to popular belief, eSports tournaments were nothing new, even 15 years ago. However, participating in these competitions was only possible for a small minority. Slowly but surely, people began jumping on the bandwagon. Everyone soon realized that iconic games such as Counter-Strike, Starcraft, and DOTA weren’t meant just for watching and playing. The overall excitement and gameplay quality helped push eSports betting into the spotlight.
Even though betting on the most popular games has taken root throughout the globe, information is still scarce about how to approach the whole thing. With this guide, we earnestly strive to change that. In the following sections, you’ll learn all there is to know. We’ll cover everything from eSports betting tips to comparison tools, which will hopefully result in your bankroll getting a much-needed boost.
What is eSports?
Electronic sports or eSports, as they’re better known, is a term that refers to the act of playing multiplayer video games in a competitive environment. Most often, eSports come in the form of tournaments featuring professional players facing off against one another. Amateur eSports tournaments are equally, if not more important than pro ones, as they help inject the sport with fresh talent.
eSports matches include either two players or two teams, while the player count depends on the specific rules of the game. For instance, Tekken is always played in 1v1 form, while League of Legends (LoL), Counter-Strike, and many others are mainly 5v5 games. Whether there are markets for a particular game mostly depends on the game’s popularity. The more popular a game is, the bigger the prize pools and the bigger the hype. Even though it’s easy to be impressed by today’s lucrative contracts, sponsorships, and million-dollar ‘bounties’, eSports was much different in its early stages.
In the early 2000s, competitions were almost exclusively amateur, with the rare occasion of players receiving vouchers or powerful gaming PCs. The games’ developers and publishers were mostly uninterested in joining in on the fun, mostly because the market was so small and gaming culture was ‘esoteric’ when compared to traditional sports. So, what changed? While the answer to this question mostly depends on who you’re asking, the general consensus is that it all comes down to the following factors.
The rise of live streaming
Before YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer, the only way to hear about the latest developments was to scour obscure eSports news blogs, without any way to watch recaps or highlights. As video-hosting and streaming platforms became a thing in the late 2000s, eSports enthusiasts were suddenly able to watch real-time action. With each passing day, more people wanted to watch the best players play their favorite game. This directly led to a steep rise in accessibility, turning eSports into a force to be reckoned with.
Live streaming made eSports available to everyone, and publishers quickly took notice of their titles gaining more traction by the day. Thus, they saw an opportunity they just couldn’t overlook. Big publishing companies such as Blizzard, Valve, and Riot Games sponsor and run competitive circuits for their respective games. Perhaps the most important benefit of publisher sponsorships is bigger prize pools. Not only can players now live off of eSports, but the lucrative paydays attract many players that didn’t find competitive gameplay all that appealing before. Everyone eats, basically.
The influx of new talent
Ten years or so ago, few people could afford gaming PCs needed to play the most popular eSports titles. As prices came down, hardware became more accessible and kids were able to start training from a very young age. Through online tournaments and ranked matches, they became able to attract the attention of the best eSports teams.
Which Games Are the Best for eSports Betting?
So, where exactly should you start with eSports betting? We’ve decided to test 20 of the most popular games right now and surveyed markets for each of those titles, over a course of two months. This time period seemed the most logical, as it allowed us to go through multiple tournaments, exhibition matches and everything else. With that being said, we came up with three picks that are guaranteed to provide a fun start to your eSports gambling experience:
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)
Originally released in 2000, CS is one of the most legendary video game franchises of all time. It’s been lauded for its simplicity and a unique approach to the first-person shooter (FPS) genre. Global Offensive is the latest version of the game and it features all the same mechanisms and game types, but with much-improved graphics.
For those that haven’t taken punts on eSports before, CS:GO is by far the best place to start. Not only is the game realistic, allowing you to quickly grasp its rules, but it also doesn’t involve a lot of variables. It’s terrorists vs. counter-terrorists, with the bad guys looking to plant the bomb in order to win the round. Another way to win is to kill the entire opposing team before they do the same to you. You can basically learn to bet on CS:GO matches in a matter of weeks, but the bulk of this period goes to watching the games and following the teams before you start. It’s a piece of cake, really.
Defense of the Ancients, or DOTA, started off as a community-created mod for the popular Blizzard game, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Its original creator, Eul, imagined the game as a duel between two teams, each controlling five heroes, in an effort to destroy the enemy’s towers and take over their base. While Eul was the mind behind DOTA, the final version was masterminded by Steve Feak and his friend IceFrog. Feak retired from the game, leaving IceFrog to handle the game all by himself.
Soon after, he was recruited by Valve, who also created Counter-Strike, and DOTA 2 came in 2013, as a result of their collaboration. The game is very intricate, as it features 117 heroes in total, with each one having its own set of special abilities and strategies. It could take several months before you’re ready to bet on DOTA 2.
League of Legends
Also known as LoL, this game was directly inspired by the original DOTA. Together, these two titles kickstarted the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre. While LoL wouldn’t exist without DOTA, it’s an entirely different game.
Most eSports experts consider it to be much easier to get into, as strategies and tactics are much more simple. Nevertheless, it’s equally exciting and dynamic, especially because of its iconic, cartoonish graphics. If you’re looking to get into LoL betting, you’ll need much less time than what DOTA 2 requires. Two months of intense learning, playing, and watching the game is enough to prepare you for your first LoL punt.
Which Tournaments Are the Best for eSports Betting?
Even though there are eSports betting tips even for low-tier competitions, it’s best to start off by honing your eSports gambling skills by focusing on the following five tournaments:
The International DOTA 2 Championships
Hosted and sponsored by Valve, this competition is the foremost DOTA 2 tournament and is seen as the ‘world cup’. In our experience, this is by far the best-covered of all eSports competitions, with markets existing for literally everything. It’s also the most lucrative of all tournaments, with the 2019 iteration shelling out a whopping $34 million to its participants.
DOTA 2 Major Championships
The Majors aren’t one competition, but a series of tournaments that are considered the most important for the sport. Each season features 4-5 events all over the world, with the most successful players getting a chance to play at The International DOTA 2 Championships. If you’re looking for constant action, the Majors are a perfect fit for you.
Intel Extreme Masters
Unlike our previous two tournaments, IEM includes CS:GO, Starcraft II, Quake Live, LoL, and Hearthstone. As of 2020, this competitive circuit features 5-7 events throughout the season, with the finals for all games taking place at the end of the year. We recommend that you bet on IEM events only if you’ve expanded your knowledge, as there is a lot of things going on.
ESL Pro Leagues & ESL One
Electronic Sports League, or ESL, is the world’s oldest, largest, and most lucrative eSports company. They organize leagues in all the popular games, with a multitude of events taking place on four continents. Again, this circuit should only be in your consideration once you’ve gotten a hang of the games included in the league.
League of Legends World Championships
The LoL World Cup, as fans like to call it, is the foremost event for League of Legends. It takes place once a year, with players qualifying via other leagues or satellite tournaments. Compared to other events we’ve listed here, it’s by far the easiest to approach and should be considered as a starting point in terms of big tournaments.
Which Markets Available to Those Who Want to Bet on eSports?
Interestingly enough, eSports markets aren’t all that different from traditional sports markets. You have winners and losers, strong and weak teams, and tangible statistics. With that being said, niche markets do exist, but you should only approach them if you’re absolutely sure about your knowledge of the game. However, the following markets are an excellent starting point.
- Moneyline. By far the easiest market to find eSports betting tips for, it’s basically betting on who wins.
- Handicaps. When one team is evidently better than others, they’re given a handicap. This means that it’s not enough for them to just win for your bet to be a winning one. Instead, they have to win by a certain margin. Underdogs can lose, but it can’t be below a certain margin.
- Totals. This type of market doesn’t pertain to who wins the match/round/map. As evident by the name, totals relate to the cumulative number of certain stats posted by two teams. For instance, it can be over/under 100 kills for DOTA 2 or over/under 3 bomb defusions for CS:GO betting.
- Outright bets. Also known as futures, these bets allow you to pick a winner of an event right away. Without paying attention to stats, rounds, or separate matches, you can pick the winner. These markets are the most difficult to find good eSports betting tips for.
How to Find the Best eSports Odds?
Some might suggest visiting each betting site separately, but we at ProTipster have a better idea. Visit our eSports sections, find the event and market you find appealing and our odds comparison tool will automatically generate the best odds. No need to worry about scams, as we only include trusted and legitimate eSports bookmakers.
Does Live/In-play Betting Exist in eSports?
Most definitely. In fact, eSports gambling is the best place to capitalize on juicy odds during matches, especially when you’re taking punts on CS:GO. The rounds are fast-paced, allowing you to earn money in a matter of minutes. Usually, there are fewer markets when the game starts, but there’s still enough to boost your bankroll.
What Are the Best Betting Sites for eSports?
If you saw a bookie that looks appealing, don’t take the plunge right away. To be sure you’re trusting a legitimate company with your money, check out our bookmaker reviews at ProTipster. Our team of experts writes them, with the community also chiming in with their opinion. With that being said, we believe that the following three sites are the best for betting on eSports:
We love 1xBet because of its amazing design and the opportunity to view stats for your favorite teams and players in many different forms. For statheads and analytics aficionados, this is by far the best option.
When we were testing all the most popular bookies, 22Bet consistently the best odds came as a surprise. They also offer the best welcome bonuses and bet boosters, with more and more markets being added each month.
Betway has by far the biggest variety of eSports markets we’ve ever seen. They even cover some less-coveted tournaments, leading us to conclude that this is the best sportsbook for both beginners and pros.
Post Your Own eSports Betting Tips!
What if we told you that you can earn money by doing more than just taking punts? That’s right - you can win upwards of $2,500 by posting your own eSports betting tips at ProTipster! The most consistent tipsters will get the most lucrative rewards. Once you become adept at predicting outcomes correctly, you can both enrich the ProTipster community and capitalize on your benevolent deeds.
eSports Betting FAQ
Is betting on eSports legal?
The answer depends on where you’re located. Some countries prohibit bets on eSports, while in other regions, this niche exists in a legal grey area because of a lack of legislation. Check with your local gaming regulatory body to be sure.
Are eSports a good thing to bet on?
Yes! It’s a growing market, with high odds all over the place. While it’s slightly harder to master betting on eSports compared to traditional sports, the effort pays dividends. Compared to other sports, it’s impossible to fix games and everything is heavily regulated.
Is it possible to earn a lot of money by betting on eSports?
With the help of eSports betting tips, you can definitely win on a consistent basis. However, you need to develop a strong strategy, whilst only betting on teams and tournaments you’re acquainted with.
How Do I Start with eSports Betting?
The best way to start your journey is to actually play the games and study their rules. By doing so, you will learn all the rules and get a good feeling for what’s to come. Next, you can watch big tournaments on Twitch. Some players stream in their free time, too, so that’s some extra content for you to watch. Start off slow, with moneylines and handicaps, and you’re good to go.
Are eSports Safe to Bet On?
Unlike in other sports, it’s borderline impossible to fix games. You won’t get swindled out of your money, but please - only place bets at verified and legitimate sportsbooks. Thus, eSports are definitely fair and safe, as far as betting markets go.
Betting on eSports: Summary
eSports betting is a lucrative industry, but the steepness of your learning curve depends on what game you choose. Pick one or two titles to study and play, while also taking the time to watch the best players go at it. Use the tips posted at ProTipsters, all while using the odds comparison tool to make the most out of every bet. All in all, eSports are a growing market and definitely one of the safest and most lucrative betting options available.