The ever-increasing synergy between the worlds of online betting and eSports was illustrated again recently, thanks to Unibet. As part of the Swedish bookmaker's push to make online sports betting more accessible to the masses and, moreover, entertaining, it has formed a partnership with PGL Major Krakow.
Known as one of the top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments of the year, the event attracted gamers from around the globe, between July 21 and 23. As eSports tournaments continue to build a larger audience across the globe, it is expected many other top online betting sites will join Unibet in sponsoring an event!
As is often the case with big eSports tournaments, major companies were signed up as sponsors, including Twitch, Monster and HyperX. However, this year it was Unibet that caught the attention of those involved. In a bid to capitalise on the growing interest in eSports betting, Unibet not only pledged to offer pre-tournament and live CS:GO betting markets, but 80-plus hours of streamed content.
In much the same way it will show live football, racing and more via the Unibet Sports betting site, the operator decided to stream all the matches from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s PGL Major Krakow 2017. The end result was not only a new layer of entertainment for traditional punters and fans of eSports tournaments, but the start of what could be a new trend in the virtual betting world.
With Unibet's 'watch and bet' system in place throughout PGL Major Krakow, customers could view the latest eSports odds while watching the action unfold in real-time. To give its service the edge over established streaming sites such as Twitch, Unibet was granted exclusive rights to broadcast the action 30 seconds faster than its peers.
This combination of live CS:GO betting odds and video content made for an interesting new dynamic that helped set up a leaderboard-style promotion with £5,000 in added value. Costing £2 to enter, the competition allowed Unibet Sports customers to earn points based on the number of correct picks they made throughout the series.
At the last count, one member had amassed almost 60,000 points and held a comfortable lead at the top of the table. With a £1,000 winner's prize and a combination of cash and bonuses for everyone else involved, the onsite competition certainly added an extra dimension to PGL Major Krakow as Gambit Esports took down the title.
After making it through to the final showdown, the players from Gambit Esports were on the ropes early against team Immortals. After getting to choose the first map, the Immortals raced to a 12-3 lead, however, a smart move during the Inferno round saw Gambit mount a comeback and by the time Abay "Hobbit" Khasenov clinched more vital points, it was all over.
With the victory secured, Gambit Esports' finest were able to celebrate their first major CS:GO tournament win as well as a $500,000 top prize. For those who put money on Gambit, there was also cause to rejoice as they were outsiders in Unibet's eSports betting hub throughout much of the tournament.
With PGL Major Krakow over, the gaming world will now be looking towards the next CS:GO tournaments. Unibet will also be aiming to continue its eSports promotions and further strengthen its ties with the community. And they are far from the only top gambling operators eyeing expansion in the market.
As well as offering eSports odds on various CS:GO events, the company's poker axis has been working with some of the world's top gamers at its popular Unibet Open festivals. At the Unibet Open Copenhagen, Alan 'Hotted89' Widmann and Thijs Molendijk squared-off in a virtual reality poker showdown.
Using Lucky VR technology, the two players helped to show the crossovers between poker and gaming. As well as trialling the latest VR poker technology, the demonstration was a chance for gamers to experience the buzz of a live poker event. When the results were in, CS:GO pro Kim PapaDrayich ended up with a poker win to his name.
After sitting down in Unibet's eSports Battle Royal, the Swedish gamer took home €5,000/£4,500. Between these initiatives and Unibet Sports' recent partnership with PGL Major Krakow, it's clear the online betting industry and gaming are becoming ever-closer friends. Although eSports betting markets are still a fairly niche product, the provisions are certainly growing.
With Newzoo predicting at the start of 2017 that the eSports economy would be worth $696 million by the close of the year, there's clearly potential in future collaborations between the two industries. If you'd like to be part of the eSports scene, log on to Unibet and check out the next gaming action!