You might have heard me banging on about eSports recently and wondered what the hell they are!
A few years ago, eSports consisted of teenagers having parties in their parents garages and competing with each other on their favourite games. Now you will see televised/live streamed tournaments with prize pools of $1m+. It is growing at an extremely fast pace and it will likely be a HUGE money spinner in the coming years.
eSports are similar to professional sports such as Football and Rugby but involve players who play computer games professionally.
Do People Really Get Paid To Play PC Games?
Yes! Due to the popularity of certain games, good players have a whole host of income streams:
- Competition prize money
- Sponsorship deals with gaming hardware/software companies
- Salary (if on a pro team)
- Advertising revenue / donations for streaming their play on sites such as Twitch.tv
What Kind Of Games?
League of Legends (aka LoL or League)
LoL is a 3rd person Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game that by 2012, was the most played game (in hours) in North America and Europe. It’s a free game but you can make in-game purchases for certain upgrades.
A 5 vs 5 Games tend to be between 20 minutes and 1 hour long when one team manages to destroy a ‘Nexus’ or hold strategic positions for the longest amount of time.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO or CS)
My favourite! CS:GO is a 5 vs 5 multiplayer 1st person shooter. There are 2 teams in a game that lasts a maximum of 30 rounds. The first team to reach 16 winning rounds, wins!
To win a round, the Terrorist team (T’s) must either kill all of the Counter-Terrorist (CT’s) team or plant a bomb on one of two bomb sites. The Counter-Terrorists can win a round by either eliminating all of the Terrorist team, defusing the bomb or “running down the clock”. Each round lasts 2 minutes and if the bomb isn’t planted by then, the Counter-Terrorist team automatically wins the round. Each team gets a turn to be Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists.
Counter-Strike has become so popular within the gaming community primarily because it is very easy to run without spending £1000’s on an expensive gaming computer. Since it’s popularity grew, the game has been constantly updated (weekly updates are fairly common) to ensure fairness and consistency. Some updates may even be as simple as moving a door a few inches to ensure neither team has an advantage over the other. This lets player skill and team organisation shine through.
Currently, the biggest tournament is the ESL Majors and has a prize pool of $1 million. The boss of Alibaba has been rumoured to create a bigger tournament with an even bigger prize pool.
Like LoL (above), DOTA is another free Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game. It is a 5 vs 5 game whereby each team starts in opposing corners of the map and aims to win by destroying the other teams “Ancient” building.
During a game, each player controls a “Hero” character. These characters have “creeps” that follow them around the map and help fight enemy targets.
Players can earn gold and experience points by defeating certain targets. The gold and experience can be spent on strengthening your “Hero” and buying more equipment to help you win the game.
Are They Fixed?
As with any sport, there has been cases of match fixing but they are very quick to get spotted / banned for doing so. The games themselves are extremely fair and constant updates are made to ensure the games are a level playing field.
eSports are NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH VIRTUAL SPORTS. The “Virtual Sports” you see listed on bookmaker websites such as Virtual Football, Virtual Horses etc are all fixed to ensure the bookies profit in the long run (kind of like slot machines) and there is no reliable statistics to take into account when betting on them.
How can you bet on eSports?
Most major bookies these days display odds for big eSports tournaments. As it’s still early days, some games are forgotten about but more importantly… Bookies get the odds wrong A LOT. Unlike Football, the bookies don’t spend much time (if any) researching eSports games.
This means quite often, you can back a strong team at a very high price! Matchbook tends to be the most popular exchange for eSports but even still, it seems like they have forgotten about them in recent times.
Are eSports Profitable?
In all honesty, I found it hard to get an edge in mainstream sports trading. The markets seemed so efficient already. Every strategy I could think of had already been published a thousand times elsewhere.
Getting into eSports betting however, I found my P/L turned around very quickly. Nobody is really talking about eSports betting strategies, because very few bettors are taking it seriously enough!
You don’t have to be a gaming genius to profit from eSports, you don’t even have to watch the games or understand every rule. There are countless angles to look at when developing profitable eSports betting strategies.
Want some ideas? Here’s a few:
- Compare how well teams perform when playing online with playing in a physical arena.
- Do certain teams play better on certain game maps? (hint…Yes!)
- Will team roster changes affect future games?
- Will a game update (also known as a patch) have a big impact on certain teams play-style?
Where can I get eSports stats from?
New sites pop up everyday but here’s a couple of big ones:
- hltv.org – Great for Counter-Strike:Global Offensive news/stats/match history
- GosuGamers – Covers pretty much all eSports match history and has their own ranking system
Update February 2017:
Bookmakers are starting to take eSports a little more seriously than recent years. It’s now being described now as an “emerging market” and some bookmakers have even hired full time staff dedicated to pricing eSport events. There are a few companies who are specialising in supplying odds and data to bookmakers but I can tell you now, they still have not cracked in-play odds.
Betfair Exchange has started to create markets for eSport events more often and there are a few people/organisations that are bookmaking on the markets. Even still, you will rarely find more then £1,000 matched on any event. Because of this, I find it most profitable to bet with a variety of bookmakers depending on how big stakes they accept at the time.