What was once considered a niche subsect of a growing but still relatively small industry has transcended to become one of the most lucrative markets in the video game industry. With eSports growing at an unprecedented rate, expecting to be valued at $12.9 billion by the end of next year, there are new opportunities for fans to engage with their favourite eSport and bet on it at leading online bookmakers.
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eSports events have outgrown hotel conference halls and now sell out not only massive arenas but stadiums hosting thousands of eSports fans to some of the most exciting competitive play available. From millions of hours watched through live stream events on Twitch and YouTube to an eSports audience of over 380 million people, major brands have joined to build up this burgeoning industry. There's no better time for eSports fan or curious bettors to jump in on eSports betting markets.
There are many betting sites that offer eSports betting as well as dedicated sites that solely offer odds and markets on dozens of eSports titles. eSports betting is very similar to "traditional" sports betting with similar markets and rules to many of its genres but knowing the latest updates that change major aspects of the competitive game (patch) in each eSports title is one crucial difference.
The more the game is played and watched, the more likely users are to bet on it. Therefore, when some of the biggest games like Fortnite and League of Legends have a major tournament running, any bookmaker offering an eSports betting market is likely to provide offers for bettors for these eSports contests.
Can you trust eSports betting? Check out Episode 4 of the Knowledge Podcast where Gambling.com took a deep dive into the world of eSports Gambling.
As the industry grows and is exposed to mainstream channels, expect more traditional offers and bets to become available as well as special offers that can only be found in the eSports market. As tournaments and leagues get closer to the finals, bookmakers are more likely to use that opportunity to offer some free bets and nice incentives. It’s good to know where to look to for the best eSports betting sites and we cover everything you need to know.
Some of the most popular eSports events to keep an eye out for are:
There is no doubt that eSports Gambling is now a popular betting market at almost every online sportsbook. While eSports covers a wide range of games, genres, structures, and participants, most of them run on a yearly or seasonal basis meaning fans can easily know when to expect the major events to take place. There are some factors to consider before placing a wager at a betting site.
It definitely adds excitement to watching your favourite eSports game and jumping on that initial gut instinct - especially when it's a winning bet. Plenty of online bookmakers offers free bets and they are a great way to boost your bankroll without risking any of your real money.
It really is the dream to win money without spending any of your own, with no deposit bonuses extremely popular among punters. There are some small catches to be found as bookmakers expect you to carry out certain conditions to ensure you place more bets in the future like requiring future bets to be placed to receive your winning wager.
With eSports growing at the rate it is, as well as the exposure on major media outlets, there are great opportunities waiting at every major tournament and finals. With its growth, you may start to see more free bets appearing for other eSports events throughout the year in your favourite eSports game. Regardless of when, should they become available, you'll find them right here at Gambling.com.
There's no better starting line than the offers listed above. They are the first point of action into eSports betting so get started by picking one from the list above. Once you sign up, you should see a list of different eSports games as well as tournaments and events that are currently live as well as upcoming. Small eSports tournaments usually run throughout a calendar year for most titles featured.
Different bookmakers will provide betting odds for certain titles and tournaments so look around on different betting sites before placing your eSports bets. Some may only offer match eSports odds while others may provide more criteria and specific markets to place your free eSports bet on. New bookmakers pop up all the time, and it’s always good to check them out to see what eSports betting markets they may have available.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive, more commonly known as CS:GO is one of the pillars of eSports. It has earned its place in the eSports mainstream ever since Counter Strike Source, and then 1.6. The most recent iteration, CS:GO launched in August 2012 and has seen continual updates from developers Valve, ensuring the right balance for competitive play. Due to its long history in eSports as well as a consistent stream of tournaments and majors, there are a large number of CS:GO betting sites for you to consider.
CS:GO is a 5v5 team-based military shooter where one team plays as the terrorists while the other team is aptly named the counter-terrorists. The core competitive mode sees one team try to plant a bomb at either one of two bases while the counter-terrorists aim to stop them. A round is won when a bomb is either planted and detonated, the planted bomb is defused, or one of the teams have all their members eliminated.
For understanding who you should consider placing a bet on, reaction time and focus are key. Because the level of play here is so high, a delayed reaction to an opponent of just milliseconds can change the course of a round. If one player is particularly keyed in, they can dominate a match unless the opponents recognise this and change their tactics to focus on them.
CS:GO betting offers one of the most diverse markets including excellent outright and in-play options to bet on. From tournament outrights to individual match betting, finding the right betting market to bet on can be made in advance with some of the biggest events offering markets a few months ahead of the start date.
However, it may be smarter to hold out and wait until closer to the match before placing bets on some of the other markets. Markets like "map wins", correct score, and first blood can largely come down to various factors including current player and team form as well as the strengths and weakness of the current line-ups of each team. This is a key time to take advantage of the many in-play options available.
While the viewer numbers may not be as big as some other eSports, the competitive nature and passion from the fans of the eSport are unrivalled. That means, that when it comes to CS:GO betting sites, it would be wise to shop around.
Dota 2 (Defense of the Ancients) is a 6vs6 objective-based Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). The other major MOBA in the eSports space is League of Legends (LoL) and both their massive popularities have seen eSports betting markets be more open and interesting than any other eSport out there covering everything form outrights to First Blood, first team to reach certain opponent kills, capturing objectives, and so much more. If you're a fan of MOBAs, understand the tactics involved and know who may get the upper hand in any aspect, eSports betting is perfect for you.
For eSports athletes looking to make a lot of money in winnings, DOTA 2 is the one. Every August since its release in 2011, The International trounces every other eSports tournament consistently for its prize money. In 2019, the prize pool, which has yet to be finalised has already broken $30 million. The prize pool is made up largely of player's purchases of a yearly bundle package released by the developer Valve called "The Compendium". The International is the largest single eSport event in the world based on the prize money.
While most other eSports see trends come and go with a field that is largely wide-open due to the fast rotation of team members and an ever-shifting META (Most Effective Tactic Available), DOTA 2 has seen a lot of consistency in both the teams at the top as well as the regions from which the dominant performances hail from. China have been the dominant force in the finals ever reach since its inception with at least one team taking part in all but one grand final in 2013. When it comes to placing your DOTA 2 bets, don't overlook this fact.
The International provides some of the biggest viewer numbers on Twitch and because of this, there are a lot of markets to bet on both before the match and tournament as well as in-play betting options. Explore your chosen online sportsbook to see if they offer the eSports market you want to bet on.
While more eyes may be watching Fortnite livestreams, no other game has as many daily and monthly active players as League of Legends, which also makes it an enticing prospect for live betting. The game, developed by Riot Games has seen it transition from a mediocre paid title to the biggest Free to Play game is history. League of Legends boasts 67 million monthly active players and daily players reaching 27 million. A phenomenon is an understatement and LoL betting is becoming increasingly popular as a result.
The game sees two teams of five start on opposite sides of a symmetrical map. Unlike most other eSports, League of Legends features just one map called the Summoner's Rift meaning map strategy is not a factor. Instead, the roster of characters available to each team is unapparelled, boasting more than 135 Champions to choose between. Understanding the team composition and the strategies involved is crucial to picking winning bets. Champions can be categorised into multiple roles or "classes" including: Assassin, Mage, Fighter, Marksmen, Tank, and Support. Understanding each class and how they work together is essential to become League of Legends eSports betting experts.
With so many people playing and understanding the game, the betting market for League of Legends is extensive, covering the standard outright and match betting but also a plethora of other smaller and ultimately interesting markets that allow you to flex your expert knowledge and insights not only into the game but the teams competing.
Know who will likely earn "First Blood" or take the first tower down? Most tournaments will allow you to place bets on these markets through many different bookmakers.
Overwatch is developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment and is the progenitor to a lot of the franchising you see being extended to other esports today. The first Overwatch League took place in 2018 and since then it has grown both in terms of teams participating as well as viewer numbers. With a season 3 already announced, the franchising and yearly structure seems to be a successful structure for eSports, following on from the traditional sports roots. The 2020 season will see all 20 Overwatch teams host their own respective homestands meaning every team will get the opportunity to play at home as well as away, continuing its traditional sports inspiration.
The objective-based game is dictated by team composition and the META (Most Effective Tactic Available) more than most other eSports. This is largely down to the class-based characters or "heroes" and the roles each member of a team play in. What makes Overwatch stand out among its peers is the way developers Blizzard have handled the META in competitive play. During the most recent Stages, the GOATS (Go all Tanks and Support) method dominated play meant resulted in Blizzard responding by putting in a 2:2:2 lock on the classes. Understanding the change in META as well as how the teams adapt to these changes is crucial to get the upper hand on many betting markets.
The parallels with The Overwatch League and tradition sports definitely make it one of the easier eSports to understand, proving its mainstream appeal by appearing on major sports networks for both playoffs and finals.
While the season is broken up into stages, culminating in a Grand Final, prospective bettors can vote on not only the overall winner but the winner of each stage.
The Overwatch League is one of the most watched eSports on the livestream platform Twitch and therefore match and in-play betting is extremely popular.
When it comes to watchtime on Twitch, Fortnite is king, and has been for some time. Fortnite continually sees viewer hours hit somewhere between 80,000,000 and 100,000,000 hours per month with no sign of slowing down. Continuous updates as well as surprises each season on the live map means nothing rivals Fortnite for continued online storytelling in a competitive genre of video games. These consistent changes also apply to competitive eSports play meaning that even from week to week, the best valued markets can change. If a new weapon is introduced and you know a player that is proficient with that type of weapon, it could provide lucrative for the kill count or points betting market.
While Fortnite as a game has seen unprecedented exposure to the mainstream world, developers Epic Games are confident in the eSport appeal by putting $100 million into the fund for the year in prize money, culminating in the World Cup in July with the prize pool topping $30 million and until very recently was the largest in eSports history. The World Cup consists of both solo and duo squads which all qualified through one of the 10 weeks of qualifying with the top players from each region earning spots for the finals. The finals will take place over the course of one weekend and all regions will square off against one another. What makes Fortnite stand out from other eSports is that even if you are the last player alive, you haven't automatically won. Instead, you are awarded points throughout your time playing for kills too meaning there are multiple approaches to take in order to top the leaderboard.
With so many eyes on the game, the potential to find great eSports odds and free bets are high as Fortnite has transcended the niche and into the mainstream in every way possible.
Ubisoft's team-based tactical shooter has seen its popularity grow since its initial release in December 2015. Due to continued support from publisher Ubisoft, Siege is now one of the most hotly contested and exciting eSports to watch.
While parallels can be drawn between this eSport and CS:GO, Siege features characters, known as Operators, that offer vastly different skillsets and abilities that add a ton of depth the strategy for both attackers and defenders.
With most objective-based eSports, one team is the attackers and the other represents the defenders. Both sides have a unique list of characters to choose between depending on the side they are for that round. When each round ends, the teams swap sides.
What makes Rainbow Six: Siege stand out in competitive play is the way Ubisoft implement and release new classes. Different organisations run professional eSports tournament for Rainbow Six: Siege throughout the year. This means that depending on the season within the game, the strategies and operatives chosen may change drastically as new ones are introduced. This is crucial for potential Rainbow Six: Siege Bettors to know the current release schedule published by Ubisoft as new Operators could drastically help or hinder a specific eSport team if their tactic is altered significantly.
The big Rainbow Six: Siege tournament is the Rainbow Six Pro League which garners an audience in the hundreds of thousands. The main schedule is broken into smaller leagues, separated by regions meaning eSports bettors can simply focus on one region should they wish to. The tournament takes place over the course of around 6 months meaning there are markets for a large portion of time on this event alone. However, there are other major tournaments always taking place should you really want to become an expert Rainbow Six: Siege eSports bettor.
Apex Legends the new eSport on the block so there's a lot yet to be seen of its long-term impact and financial viability. However, it is published by one of the biggest video game publishers in Electronic Arts meaning they have the reserves to make this a major eSport should they desire to do so. The game became the quickest video game in history to reach 50 million downloads but the numbers have not stayed as strong in the following months. Like it's contemporaries including Fortnite and PUBG (PLAYERUNKNOWN'S Battlegrounds), Apex Legends is a Battle Royale game in which teams of three land on an island with the task of being the last team alive. There is a slight twist in that each player on the team takes control of a specific character with class-like abilities, not too dissimilar to Overwatch.
Betting on Apex Legends is still in its infancy, with the only major eSports event taking place just following the release of the game in February 2019. Since then, the game is constantly being balanced by developers Respawn Entertainment as it moves through the standard Battle Royale Seasons. Currently in Season 2, retention is key to gauge the potential of massive eSports events around the title. Regardless, there will be major eSports events and with that will come plenty of markets from various bookmakers.
Naturally, some bookmakers will offer a greater variety of betting markets for eSports than others, so it's important to do your research before signing up. Thankfully, we've done all the hard graft for you and each of the sites listed on our top eSports bookies page are the cream of the crop for this market.
Most top online bookmakers will offer eSports betting markets, but some are better than others in this category.
There are some similarities between regular online sports betting and eSports betting. For instance, you are still wagering on the element of skill between two or more human beings. Just like in any other sport, there will be favourites and underdogs, with the main difference being eSports is played on a screen in a virtual setting.
Bookmakers will offer eSports betting depending on events taking place around the globe. For the most part, this will be year round but there does tend to be some breaks in play.
Betting on eSports is fully legal. All of the websites we recommend are fully regulated by the UK Gambling Commission or Malta Gaming Authority, so you know you're in safe hands.
All major eSports competitions exist on LANs - local area networks - that can be highly protected and easily policed. The eSports Integrity Commission, launched in 2016, also combats any emerging threats of fraud in the sport.
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Reviewer since June 2016