Well-known bookmaker Betway Sports has joined forces with ESL One, the Electronic Sports League premier offline tournament service. The first event Betway sponsored was the ESL One Cologne tournament that took place from the 7 – 9 July at the LANXEES Arena in Germany.
The new partnership allowed Betway’s sports betting site to broadcast live odds for the various eSport Tournaments taking place. Betway's gamble on eSports is certainly one that brings risk but as each day goes by and more and more players embrace eSports world round, the gamble looks less risky!
ESL One Cologne is the biggest tournament for online multiplayer first-person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). Developed by Hidden Path Entertainment and Valve, major players in the game, it’s the fourth title in the popular Counter-Strike series.
For ESL One Cologne, 16 of the world’s best CS:GO teams descended on the city, with gamers taking over the LANXEES Arena, home to the Cologne Sharks ice hockey team. The 2017 prize pool was a staggering $250,000, and managed to sell out the 15,000-capacity stadium.
Winning team SK Gaming managed to beat American outfit Cloud9 on its home turf in Germany in three straight games. Other ESL One tournaments take place in New York (also for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), as well as Frankfurt and Hamburg, for Defense of the Ancients 2 (DotA 2).
eSports is one of the quickest growing markets for gambling, with CS:GO tournaments among the most popular to bet on. With Betway Sports being able to offer live odds for the tournament, it means the bookmaker could offer better, more informed eSport odds to its customers.
Betway Sports’ partnership with ESL One Cologne was not the bookmaker’s first foray into the world of eSport tournaments. Last year the company decided to sponsor an individual team, rather than the whole tournament, a path many big time bookmakers have taken as eSports takes a prominent role in betting.
Betway hammered out a six-figure sponsorship deal with Swedish professional eSport group Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) in September 2016. The deal saw Betway produce exclusive video content for its members, including interviews with players, coaches, and an insider look into the training process of an eSports contender.
Speaking of the deal at the time, Betway Director Anthony Werkman said:
"Betway were very proud to be the first bookmaker to launch a bespoke eSports microsite last year. Since then, we’ve invested heavily in our team which is full of die-hard fans of the sport. As a company, we seek to provide a first class, premium service and look to partner with those who share the same ideals and values to be able to bring fans closer to the action. It’s with these ideals, values, and mission in mind that we partnered with NiP. They have a huge fan base all over the world, and we are tremendously excited to provide exclusive, behind-the-scenes content on a regular basis as we follow the team’s quest to be the best."
The sponsorship of eSport Tournaments and CS:GO teams also brings a legitimacy to the eSports scene. As Hicham Chahine, CEO of NiP, said:
"We’re thrilled with the opportunity to work closely with the leading eSports betting company and are certain the partnership will allow us to continue to grow our legacy to give our millions of fans around the world unforgettable experiences they will remember for a lifetime."
While Betway is building up the sponsorship deals with professional adult players and tournaments, children’s TV network Nickelodeon is working on helping younger, more amateur players. The network has recently announced a $15 million investment into the Super League Gaming, the amateur equivalent of ESL One.
At present, Super League Gaming only operates within the United States, with younger-orientated games such as League of Legends and Minecraft. Although sports betting sites such as Betway may not be able to sponsor them due to the age of the players, it provides a training platform for younger players in order for them to move into teams that compete on a global level.
A year after its inception, SLG gave away a top prize of $15,000 to 10-year-old Julien Wiltshire in its first ever Minecraft Tournament. Nickelodeon was not the only one that invested in the SLG during the Series C Funding window. It also drew serious financial muscle in the form of film company DMG Entertainment and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik.
Since it was created in 2014, SLG has raised $28 million in funding, with half of that garnered over the past year, a clear indication of the growing market. If this is the amateur league, the various professional leagues could all soon see Betway-like sponsorship with other bookmakers! Visit Betway today to check out the budding eSports markets!