The closure of casinos across the globe has become the norm due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sportsbooks are no less affected than casinos, with most major sporting leagues either postponing or outright canceling their seasons.
Online bookies in the search for a way to keep their customers have begun exploring the relatively unexplored option of Esports, a rapidly growing sector with untapped potential.
Esports is a term used to describe competitive video gaming where an audience is allowed to view different players competing across various game titles, often on online platforms. Esports events can take place between individuals, but team vs. team events have proven to be vastly more popular with fans.
Estimates of the size of the Esports fan-base are staggering. Research conducted in 2017 concluded that Esports drew 258 million unique viewers. These figures far surpass the highly popular NFL which achieved 204 million unique viewers for their 2016 regular-season games.
Online streaming services such as Twitch provide the majority of fans with competitive gaming content; however, several Esports arenas have cropped up over recent years, providing a live experience where fans can cheer on their favorite teams and players. Professional E-gamers can have large followings, with many achieving millionaire statuses through competition prizes, merchandise, sponsorships, and monetization from their online channels.
There are many international professional leagues, and a blend of investors and fans has skyrocketed the potential to earn serious money from gaming. Many tournaments have multimillion-dollar prize pools, and the overall industry is poised to turn $2 billion annually by 2021.
COVID-19 has changed the lifestyles of many people, with a significant percentage of the global population spending a lot more time indoors thanks to governmental safety measures. With most sports tournaments on hold, Esports has become a refuge for sports fans looking for their competitive fix, with sports wagering enthusiasts and real-money casino players making up a significant part of that number.
Betting on Esports works more or less the same as placing a regular team sports wager. One would most commonly to bet on who the winning team will be. There is a wide range of betting options available and punters new to this sector would do well to shop around.
Cash or Skins
Aside from the standard cash betting option where you win money, based on your wager, players have taken to a practice known as “skin betting” where players bet an item from their stock of custom in-game gear. A win means a new piece of gear that they can use, sell, or trade.
Top Esports games
The most popular Esports games are multiplayer masterpieces and a few have risen to the top, drawing millions of players and fans. Here are some examples of the most iconic titles in Esports history.
- Overwatch – This is a first-person shooter where two teams of six compete against each other in various game modes. This can entail escorting a payload across a map or defending strategic locations. Players can select from a roster of over 30 characters.
- Fortnite – Fortnite Battle Royale is the most popular iteration of this shooter title. Up to 100 players fight it out to be the last player standing. Players can fight alone, or form teams of up to four participants.
- League of Legends – In this online battle arena game, teams of champions compete against each other. The player characters available come from a wide range of fantasy sub-genres and dozens are available for selection, all with individual abilities and powers. League of Legends is currently the most-watched Esports game on the planet.
- Dota 2 – This multiplayer arena title is a five-on-five team battle game. Each team features powerful fantasy characters. The aim of the game is to take down other players and eliminate your opponent’s base. This is currently the most profitable game in all of esports.
- Starcraft II – This wildly successful title is a real-time strategy game where you build bases, train troops, and construct defenses and vehicles. The game features humans and two alien races as class selections and features 3 expansion titles, telling the story of each race fight for dominance.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – This realism-based first-person shooter allows you to choose a team of terrorists or counter-terrorists as you fight across various game modes. This 2012 release is still grabbing attention with around 11 million players per month.
Other betting options
Aside from the more fantastical side of gaming genres, if you’re eager to wager on something a bit more traditional if you’re looking for something to wager on, some bookmakers are allowing bets on the sports simulators, NBA2K20 and Madden NFL 20. ESPN is currently airing an NBA2K20 tournament with real basketball stars swapping out their sneakers for game controllers and competing against each other.