It was merely a few decades ago when most gamers would flock to their local internet cafes and play tournaments for the grand prize of a few beers or some pocket money, but now gaming has changed – it has become much more than just a hobby. The advent of streaming sites such as Twitch.tv has turned gaming into a spectator’s sport, something that was previously unimaginable. “Why watch someone else playing a game when you can play it yourself?” many would ask, but the same question can be asked of any sport.
Video games are entertaining, engaging, and they boast an enormous following. Every day, millions tune in to watch streams of all sorts of games with or without an esports scene. This opened the door for tournaments with huge prize pools and big-name sponsorships, which ultimately led to the birth of esports.
This exponentially-growing industry is no longer in its infancy stage. It has expanded to a point of warranting coverage from big media organizations such as ESPN, thus slowly making its way into the mainstream. Naturally, bookmakers soon turned their gaze towards esports with the intent of capitalizing on a new industry with millions of potential new customers, leading us to where we are today.
The question of whether esports are an actual sport is a hotly-debated one with plenty of opposing views. First, we must ask ourselves what defines a sport. According to Oxford’s Dictionary, a sport is “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”
Esports don’t involve physical exertion besides finger movement, which is why skeptics like to use this argument. But what esports do require is plenty of mental exertion, teamwork, strategy, skill, and coordination. Those factors are arguably more important than physical exertion, and many industry faces would agree. Jeremy Lin, a famous NBA player and a passionate Dota 2 fan, once compared a Dota 2 match to an NBA match, as both games involve two sets of 5 players working together towards a common goal.
The fact of the matter is that esports is growing at a rapid pace, so much so that the USA has already recognized esports players as professional athletes, allowing them to procure athlete visas, with Germany looking to follow suit. It is also likely that esports will be part of the Olympic games as soon as 2024. At this rate, esports may be on par with traditional sports within the next ten or fifteen years, meaning there’s no reason not to consider them a real sport right now.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a betting site, some of which will play a crucial part in your betting experience. Instead of letting you do all the work, we’ve saved some of your precious time by pre-selecting the best esports betting sites for you. Below, you’ll find a list of online betting sites, but also what we look for in a betting site to judge whether it’s a good fit or not.
It’s important that the sportsbook you’re betting at does a good job of covering a wide array of esports. If a certain betting site is primarily focused on League of Legends, then that might be perfect for the LoL fan, but most players prefer ample coverage of a variety of esports to choose from.
Besides taking into consideration what esports are on offer, it’s arguably even more important to consider their betting markets – how many types of bets are available on average. For example, only having the option to bet on a winner (a moneyline bet) can get quite dull and repetitive after a while. Betting market diversity is important because you want to be able to mix it up and have several ways to bet so that you are able to take advantage of your esports knowledge as much as possible.
Esports is still relatively new among mainstream betting sites, meaning their diversity in terms of betting markets is still quite low in comparison to “regular” sports. Still, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t discrepancies in quality between the bookies, and we’ve made sure to choose the best.
Every experienced bettor knows the importance of odds when betting in the long term. The difference between +100 and +110 on a moneyline stake may not seem like much, and it probably isn’t if you’re a casual bettor. But if one bookie shows consistently better odds than another, then it makes a world of difference when it comes to long-term profit. Profiting from betting on any sport is a game of thin margins, which is why even the smallest percentages matter a lot.
A bookie’s reputation is everything in today’s world where everyone has instant access to information, as well as plenty of choices of where place their bets. Nobody wants the risk of getting scammed out of their money, so we made sure to exclude any shady bookmakers from our list.
Proper customer service is one of the most important aspects of an esports betting site. Having the option of a quick live chat or phone call in a time of need ensures a smooth betting experience and a happy customer.
Pro tip: when you’re exploring a new sportsbook, get in touch with their customer service before making an account for a preview of the type of service you can expect.
Payout times are similar across most betting sites, but some may hold your money for months before paying out, making you regret making a deposit in the first place. We’ve made sure to thoroughly vet each site and exclude any shady organizations who will do their utmost to avoid paying out or will prolong your waiting time to unreasonable periods.
Not everyone is physically capable of or has the desire to go out in the field for a game of football, baseball, or basketball, but everyone from age 7 to 77 can hop on their PC or laptop and load up one of the many video games with an active esports scene. This is what makes betting on esports stand out in comparison to other sports, as you are able to relate to the game you’re watching in a unique way that hardly any other sport can offer. It is also an excellent opportunity to put your game knowledge to the test, adding extra spice to your betting thrill.
Moreover, watching competitive matches of a game you’re playing can be a massive learning experience, as you are able to absorb some of the strategies used by professionals and instantly apply them to your own game.
A lot of traditional sports are set in stone with their rules, and even if a certain game rule is added, removed, or changed, it is usually a minor one that doesn’t really change how the game is being played.
The esports scene is quite different in that regard; it is vibrant and ever-changing because most games are subject to frequent updates by their developers. This shakes up the playing field and makes it more exciting for both players and spectators.
When a new update shakes up a certain game, even the best teams will need time to adjust to those changes, potentially leading to shaky performances and upsets. Incidentally, this is where an underdog team can strike if they can be the first to pounce on the opportunity to capitalize on a new-found strategy.
Below you’ll find a list of the most popular esports, but new games pop out all the time, increasing the pool of available esports on a consistent basis. Just like esports themselves, this list itself is subject to constant change. You can click on each game for a detailed betting guide.
A moneyline bet is the simplest bet type, where you place your stake on the winner of the match. Naturally, the favorites will boast lower odds, whereas the underdog will offer greater reward for your stake but at a greater risk.
Plenty of esports betting sites let you bet on the correct score of a match. A correct score bet usually relates to the number of maps won by a certain team at the end of the match.
Handicap betting has become a common betting market for matches among esports betting sites. It lets you capitalize on a strong favorite for a certain match, whereas otherwise, the bet would be unfavorable due to its extremely low odds – such as -500 on a moneyline wager.
If you are certain the quality discrepancy between two teams is large enough to warrant a handicap bet of -2.5 on the favorite, e.g., betting that your team will win 3:0 in maps, then you may be in for a nice return of your stake.
Over/Under is another frequent bet type available on esports matches. It usually relates to the number of maps to be played, as the bulk of esports matches are played out in a best-of-three format, letting you bet over/under 2.5 maps. There are certain exceptions, however – for example, in CS:GO, where you can place an Over/Under bet on the number of rounds within one map.
Outright betting is available on most esports tournaments, letting you bet on the tournament winner ahead of time. This bet is typically unavailable once a certain tournament is already underway.
Parlay, or Acca’s, as they’re well known among betting enthusiasts, means combining several bets in a single ticket in order to boost your odds of winning. Combining 2, 3, or 4 bets can lead to a hefty return even on a low stake, but needless to say, the risk of losing is much greater. Almost all betting sites allow parlays on esports matches, often letting you combine them with other sports, even.
Are you interested in learning more about esports betting? Click below for a beginner’s guide that can teach you the ropes, or have a look at our advanced guide containing knowledge that may propel you ahead of the curve.
Most esports are very different from one another, leading to unique game-specific betting opportunities that can’t be found on traditional sports like soccer or basketball.
In Dota 2 and League of Legends, you can often bet on which team will kill the first Roshan/Kongor, which team will take the first tower/barracks, which team will strike “first blood,” and so forth.
CS:GO betting opens the gates for even more exciting betting opportunities, such as who will win the pistol round, how many rounds will be won by the bomb exploding/defusing, who will score the most “first kills,” whether or not there will be a knife kill, Molotov kill, and so forth.
The examples above are just a taste of what the diverse world of esports betting can offer. You can imagine how exciting it can be if you’re already a fan of a certain game.
Competitive gaming in its earliest form dates back to the ‘70s and ‘80s. One of the earliest large-scale gaming tournaments was The Space Invaders Championship held by Atari in 1980, grabbing the attention of more than 10,000 participants.
However, esports started hitting its first real stride during the ‘90s, in line with the boom of commercial internet connectivity. This opened the gates for a new dimension of competitive gaming, as players could now put their skills to the test on a global scale. One of the pioneers of esports in the ‘90s was South Korea with its vibrant StarCraft I scene, but then followed a global boom of competitive shooters Counter-Strike and Quake. The first big-prize esports tournament occurred in 1997 on the game Quake, where the winner famously won a Ferrari belonging to Quake’s main developer.
Throughout the early 2000s, organizations such as MLG and WCG started popping up, with annual or semi-annual tournaments on various popular games – but with modest prize pools in comparison to today’s standards.
The most pivotal time for esports happened around the year 2010, in line with the rise of online video game streaming via platforms such as Twitch.tv. This is where esports began to crawl its way into the mainstream and when the term “esports” became widely used by everyone within the gaming community.
2011 was the year Valve announced the very first “International,” a Dota 2 tournament with a grand prize pool of $1,600,000! Up to that point, the prize-pool record was held by ESWC’s (Electronic Sports World Cup) $14,000 LAN event. The tournament swiftly garnered the attention of media, as well as the best gamers around the globe. It was a message that things were getting serious, and it was the first true sign that video games would no longer be just a hobby but a viable career path for the best of the best.
Valve’s International was the catalyst for things to spiral out of control. League of Legends quickly matched Dota 2’s prize money with their own World Series event. This drew the attention of sponsors, allowing organizations to finance their teams and establish team houses for practicing purposes. This is why most professional teams are able to earn a monthly livable wage, regardless of tournament performance. Dota 2 and LoL’s massive tournaments drew in millions of viewers and worldwide attention, which paved the way for plenty of other esports scenes to grow to new heights, leading us to where we are now.
Esports is still growing, and there are many aspects of this industry that are yet to be ironed out, but its rise so far has been phenomenal, and still we see no way it can go but upwards.
Esports betting is a safe endeavor by all accounts. Today’s technology allows for smooth payment transactions and total accountability on both ends, meaning all you have to worry about is which match to bet on.
Much like esports itself, the industry of online betting started making strides in the early 2000s. Back then, regulation was different from today, and the question of safety was off-putting to many potential bettors, but nowadays, it’s impossible for a shady organization to scam their users without the whole world knowing about it.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you should sign up at the first esports betting site you see online, as there are still a handful of odd cookies around that may not have your best interest at heart. This is where we come in, as we make sure to review every prospective betting site in great detail, letting you know what you can expect from each so that you can have a worry-free betting experience.
Click below for a page of all our betting site reviews. You can make your choice based on your betting preferences, but in terms of safety, you can’t make a wrong turn.
Esports betting can be a fun activity purely because of its novelty factor, but it also offers new and exciting betting opportunities that can’t be found elsewhere, which is why you should consider it even without a previous interest in gaming. Regardless of which esport you prefer, make sure to take a glance at our reviews selection and select an established betting site that will suit your needs. Good luck, and have fun in your betting endeavors!