This month, sports and betting data provider Betradar expanded its online betting software to include the video game League of Legends, offering live odds on matches for the popular eSports title. These expanded options are becoming more commonplace across betting providers in general.
This is due to the ever-increasing value of the eSports industry and its affiliates. Sportsradar has recently followed suit, for example, partnering with PvPRO, a Counter Strike: Global Offensive platform. It's a sensible move for Betradar – online betting and eSports are both predicted to increase in market value in the coming years!
Although it might not seem like it, eSports have been around in one form or another since the early 1970s. The first documented tournament of sorts took place at Stanford University in 1972. A more public Space Invaders event was organised by Atari in the ‘80s. It drew a crowd of around 10,000 people.
Fast forward to 2017 and the Intel Extreme Master World Championship in Poland had more than 45 million online viewers. These numbers alone explain why so many bookmakers and betting companies are keen to get a slice of the action. The rise of the sport is linked to the rise in popularity of gaming in general.
The estimated worth of the gaming industry in 2020 is slated to be over $125 billion, meaning it's one of the top digital industries. The eSports industry isn't far behind either. It's predicted to have audiences in the region of 600 million by 2020, with a revenue fast approaching the gaming industry in general.
In many ways, the increasing popularity of eSports, and eSports betting, was inevitable. Many major games developers have become household names in recent years, whether it's Blizzard's World of Warcraft, Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto, or Capcom's Street Fighter. Certain game genres are better suited to eSports than others, of course.
First-person shooter (FPS) games like Counter Strike and real-time strategy titles such as StarCraft II have become some of the most competitive in the field. MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games, especially League of Legends (or LoL), currently dominate the majority of eSports tournaments.
As the appeal of the sport broadens, so too does the number of genres and titles included in it. Football, racing and fighting games have all joined the eSports arena. The Street Fighter V eLeague is just one example. Streaming and commentary is becoming a major aspect of the industry as well – much of which is centred on online coverage.
These competitions and leagues are only going to increase in both scope and reach. Many developers are now actively setting up and promoting their own competitions, or designing games from the ground up to be optimal for eSports (StarCraft II from Blizzard as a case in point).
Betting on eSports is also a growing field, and existing data providers like Betradar are well poised to take advantage of their experience when it comes to providing odds. It joins other established bookmakers like Betway, Ladbrokes, and William Hill, although there is a limit to the competitions and games that have active stakes.
Currently, bets are taken for competitions in Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dawn of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2), League of Legends, SMITE, Heroes of the Storm, and Call of Duty. This range of titles is almost guaranteed to grow in the future, of course. Betting on an eSports match is much the same as putting odds on any other sporting event.
The main difference, though, is that eSports gambling is much more likely to appeal to newer generations of gamers – they naturally have a working knowledge of the games, the industry and the teams, often just through playing the titles themselves. Betradar's recent move to offer League of Legends odds is a glimpse into the future.
And perhaps a glimpse into the future of sporting events themselves. Many eSports players are already benefiting from lucrative sponsorship deals, and prize money for competition winners is ever increasing. It's entirely possible eSports teams will one day be as popular as football teams are now./p>
Regardless of what the future holds for these teams, and what opportunities they present for gamblers and bookmakers, one thing is for sure – the exponential growth of both eSports and eSports betting shows no sign of slowing down in the next few years. Visit Betway today to start betting the top eSports markets!