Esports Sign-Up Offers from UK Bookmakers
This guide to Esports betting looks at the most popular games, betting markets and some pointers to maximise winnings from your Esports wagers with UK-facing bookmakers.
Esports has a number of different names: eSports, e-sports and electronic sports. The activity is essentially competitive video gaming. It is now well organised so that teams and individuals compete in structured leagues. There has been a massive growth in professional Esports during the 2010’s. It has developed from a predominantly amateur pastime to a professional “sport” and with that has come a significant increase in betting with global and UK brands. The most played and bet on genres are:
- Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA)
- First-person shooter (FPS)
- Real-time strategy (RTS) games.
Online streaming of Esports has led to even more betting activity.
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Brief Modern History of Esports
The biggest growth years for Esports have been during the 2010s. There were about 10 tournaments at the turn of the century and about 260 at the end of the first decade. In 2006 a championship offered a total prize fund of million. However, when the Twitch online streaming service began to cover Esports in 2011 there was massive growth. By 2013, viewers consumed 12 billion hours of Esports events. Over the next seven years the activity has seen developments in the areas of organised leagues and dedicated arenas. By 2020, sports federations and professional teams were involved and there are suggestions that Esports could be recognised as an Olympics sport.
UK Esports Bookmakers
All the major UK-targeted online betting companies offer Esports match and tournament odds. Esports has gone from a niche betting category to a mainstream betting sport. Turnover is well behind betting on football, tennis and horse racing. However, Esports has the potential to attract more bets than other mainstream sports such as cricket, rugby league, rugby union, snooker, golf and darts. Live Esports betting is another area that has seen growth in the last few years.
The following UK bookmakers offer a particularly strong Esports betting service:
- William Hill
Esports betting is legal in the UK so many sportsbooks feature match and tournament odds in pre-match, in-play and ante post markets. It is difficult to measure the overall number of bets and stakes but suffice to say these totals have been growing exponentially over the last five years. A number of UK operators offer live streaming of Esports events. Bettors can now cash out bets during an in-play Esports tournament or match. Fluctuations in the scoring and betting markets make Esports suited to live betting and the cashing out of bets.
Betting on Esports is one of the growth areas at online sportsbooks. Games are played over one round (Map) or best of three Maps or best of five Maps. Maps are played over a number of points, either total points or race to a specific number. Bookmakers offer a range of betting markets for each type of scoring system and these are described below:
Bookmakers offer odds on the outright winner of tournaments. They update the betting after each round of matches. Bettors can assess the form of the competing teams or players over the early rounds and then place tournament winner bets. There are plenty of sources of statistics and form. Outright winner bets are relatively long term but most tournaments take place over a few days.
Esports tournaments consist of matches which bring together teams or individuals. The typical length of a match is about one hour so bets are turned over quickly. Matches consist of Maps which are akin to sets in tennis. Bettors can place wagers on the match winner during and after each Map. There is always a definite outcome so this is a two-way market not including the draw.
Esports matches are mainly played over one, three or five Maps. The objective is therefore to win one, two or three Maps. Bookmakers offer odds on each Map except the deciding Map which is the same as the match winner. There are only two options: Team or Player 1 and Team or Player 2. In exceptional circumstances a Map may not be completed and bookmakers rules apply.
Handicap betting is available on the number of sets. A typical handicap is -1.5 sets for the favourite. In a best of five Maps match the favourite must win 3-0 or 3-1 to cover the handicap. If the winning score is 3-2 or the underdog wins, the handicap bet on the favourite loses. Handicaps are generally expressed in half Maps to eliminate the tie.
Esports bettors can back the total number of points in a match or Map or the total number of Maps in a match. These markets can be expressed in three bands for points and Over/Under total number of points in a Map, the match or number of Maps. Over/Under totals are expressed in half points or half Maps so there is no potential for the tie.
Correct Map Score
A more speculative bet is the correct Map score. In a best of three match the potential outcomes are 2-0 and 2-1 for either team or player. In a best of five match the possible correct Map scores are 3-0m, 3-1 or 3-2 in favour of both players. Map correct score betting is related to the odds for the match winner because there is a link between these outcomes.
Scoring plays in Esports are known as bloods or kills. Matches are generally combat games in which the objective is to eliminate the opposition before being eliminated. One point is awarded for each blood or kill and bookmakers offer odds on the team or player to achieve that first score. Some bookmakers go a stage further and offer odds for the winner of subsequent bloods.
Race to 3, 5 or 10
Another betting option is on the team or player to reach 3, 5 or 10 points at the start of a Map. These are relatively short terms markets and bets are settled promptly. There is always a definite outcome so the tie is not possible. The race to a number of points bets are two-way markets and the possible outcomes are Team or Player 1 and Team 2 or Player 2.
Popular Esports Games for Betting
Here is information about popular Esports which are established titles or more modern games:
Fortnite was released in 2017 and there are currently three types of game. The existing modes are survival, battle and sandbox, which has less structure. The game has been financially successful for the creator’s right from the early days and Fortnite has won gaming awards. However, critics have expressed reservations about the availability of such a violent game to young children.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
At the time of writing CS:GO is the most popular Esport for playing and betting. It is a first person shooter game between two teams with five players. The objective is to plant a bomb or prevent that happening or defuse the bomb. CS:GO is played over three Maps and teams must win 16 points to win a Map. Roles are reversed after the first 15 points of a Map.
Dota2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. Matches are played between two teams of five players. Players collect points and items which are used in head-to-head combats with individuals from the opposing team. The objective is to destroy a large structure of defend the stricture. Dota2 is played over one Map and there is always a definite outcome.
Call of Duty
This Esport is played over the best of five Maps. There are three types of Map, two of which are repeated if a game goes to five Maps. Call of Duty is a multiplayer game involving two teams of five players. Individuals work together to achieve objectives which differ for each type of Map. The Call of Duty League (2020) is a newly franchised competition for professional players.
In 2020, Valorant was a new tactical first-shooter game which is free-to-play. It is a team game that brings together five players per team who take part in a gunfight. There are a number of tournament formats and some are played over the best of one round. Tournament play will develop over time but initially there will be many unknown players and teams.
Esports Betting Pointers
There are elements of Esports betting that mirror betting on regular, mainstream sports. There are popular teams that are backed more on reputation than recent results and team line-ups. In any match or tournament you can get big favourites but emerging teams can cause upsets as they build a reputation. Outcomes can be more unpredictable than in popular betting sports. The activity is evolving quickly and that means fresh teams and players are new to the bettor. Also, bookmakers have much more experience and knowledge of a sport like football. Specialist knowledge in Esports can help you get an edge and beat the bookie from time to time. However, as in other sports there are things to avoid when betting on Esports.
Avoid Favourites in Short Matches
As in other sports such as snooker, tennis and darts, the longer the match the more likely it is for the best player to win in Esports. The shortest form is the best of 1 match which is played over one Map. These games can be unpredictable so there are vulnerable favourites. The market may make one team the favourite because the opponents are a new and emerging team. Due to the development and growth of Esports, big favourites may be too short in the betting and should be avoided.
Be Wary of Unknown Teams
Due to the ongoing evolution of Esports there will always be unknown teams and players. Assessing the form and relative merits of lesser teams and more established opponents can be difficult. In reality, you are using guesswork and that is not a sensible basis for placing bets. You should focus on games that bring together two teams that are established because the form and betting is more reliable. Betting should be based on information and not speculation about the ability of an unknown team. Backing the favourite blindly is a recipe for losing money over time. There are upsets but conversely backing the outsiders is more about luck than applying information.
Take Note of Squad Changes
Games that rely on team dynamics require effective interactions between players. Team and roster changes are common in Esports. An emerging talent could be recruited to improve performance which means teams will discard a weaker player. There are also transfers between teams and a player may be attracted to signing for a rival. If a team loses their best player it becomes weaker as a whole. Struggling teams find it harder to keep hold of their better players. However, when a player moves, it will take time to fit in and understand the team’s style and tactics. So, it’s prudent to give a significant recruit a few matches to settle in before betting on the signing team.
The Future For Esports and Esports Betting
Esports can only continue to grow as there is a new generation of players and fans who will be attracted by betting on teams and players. Game technology should continue to develop and there will be more live streaming. Mobile technology will continue to improve which means faster apps and betting sites. There could be more mainstream television coverage and dedicated sports channels could have one channel that focusing on Esports. Increased betting and sponsorship means more prize money. Playing Esports will become a more attractive career and business will be set up to train new and emerging players. Sporting clubs and federations could sponsor teams so contracts will become more lucrative. Bookmakers should continue to improve their Esports betting services.