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Beginner’s Guide to Esports Betting

What Is Esports?

Beginner’s Guide to Esports Betting
Esports stands for electronic sports, and it encompasses the massive industry of competitive video gaming.

What makes an esport? Esports are first-person shooters, sports games, real-time strategy games, card games – you name it. As long as a game supports competitive play where players can face off against one another, and that game draws in enough interest from gamers, it’s bound to have a competitive scene in one form or another.

Esports has been growing at an immense rate in recent years, and it doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon. Thanks to the support of fans that number in the millions – as well as sponsors and investors – esports tournaments are able to draw in thousands of spectators in jam-packed arenas. Some tournaments have already surpassed most mainstream sports events in terms of prize pools and even viewership numbers.

Biggest Esports Tournaments

The visible growth of esports can be seen through tournaments, but more importantly the environment in which professional gamers are able to thrive in. Most professional players are now able to earn a monthly livable wage paid by their organization and sponsors. Many professional teams live in team houses, travel to tournaments with paid expenses, get approved for athlete visas, and so forth. These things are a given in mainstream sports but were unheard of in esports not too long ago. This not only confirms the exponential rise of the esports industry, but it also means there is plenty of room for growth ahead, as there are plenty of venues yet to be explored.

Esports wouldn’t be where it is without the millions of people that support their favorite games on a daily basis. Now, gamers from around the globe are closer than ever via various platforms such as Twitch.tv, where they can share in the excitement of watching the pros battle it out with massive prizes at stake or simply follow an educational stream to improve their own gameplay.

Many people ask what’s the benefit in watching someone else play instead of playing that game yourself. But the same can be asked of almost any sport. Millions of gamers tune in every day to watch the game they like being played at the highest level. Watching esports can be an exhilarating experience for the esports fan, just like football can be for the football fan.

Most Popular Esports

Like we said before, there are all sorts of esports out there, and each one is wildly different from one another.

It is true that many esports are essentially the same as one another as they fall under the same genre, but only if we look on the surface. For example, both Dota 2 and League of Legends are MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas). They are both played with a top-down view, you control a single hero or champion, and your objectives are to destroy enemy towers and eventually their base. But once you delve deeper into the mechanics and intricacies of both games, you will find a myriad of significant differences that define each game and make it what it is, which is why they may attract different crowds of gamers/bettors.

Below, we will list the most popular esports in the industry. You can click on the button to be taken to its respective game guide, where you can learn about its basic gameplay mechanics and esports scene.

Dota 2

Dota 2 Logo
Dota 2 has consistently been at the frontier of the modern esports scene. In fact, many consider Dota 2’s The International of 2011 to be the catalyst which sparked the snowballing growth of esports. It was the first tournament to offer over $1,000,000 in prize money, and it was held at a huge LAN venue at Gamescom in Cologne.

Today, Dota 2 is stronger than ever, with dozens of prestigious tournaments being held throughout the year. The game is leading the charts in terms of tournament prize money by far, and its viewership numbers are skyrocketing as well.

As a Dota 2 bettor, you would benefit from a game that has a healthy and consistent esports scene. Since Dota 2 is so big, bookmakers always make sure to provide good coverage of its tournaments in terms of betting options. Relative to most other esports, Dota 2 has fantastic diversity in betting markets, offering you plenty of venues where you can exploit your game knowledge for profit.

In Dota 2, two teams of 5 players each face off in a battle that involves strategical thinking, mechanical skills, and most importantly – teamwork. The game is completely free to pick up and play with all the playable heroes unlocked right off the bat.

League of Legends

League of Legends Logo
League of Legends is by far the most popular MOBA out there. While it may fall short in comparison to Dota 2 when it comes to tournament prize money, LoL boasts a significantly larger player base and viewership.

The LoL World Championship is a year-long event which culminates with a LAN final, held at various locations throughout the globe. As a LoL bettor, you would have a steady stream of matches to bet on and the best sportsbook coverage out of all esports.

Just like Dota 2, League of Legends is free to play. If you wish to get better at LoL betting, learning the game itself would be a great start. Alternatively, you can have a look at our betting guide.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Logo
Counter-Strike is a global gaming phenomenon that’s been present since the late ‘90s. This first-person shooter still remains one of the – if not the – most commonly known games to man. Global Offensive, its latest iteration, boasts a healthy esports scene and a vast selection of tournaments throughout the year.

CS:GO is a highly competitive game with a virtually unreachable skill cap. To a CS:GO fan, professional matches can be a source of great thrills and entertainment. While many games can come and go, Counter-Strike has been consistent in its popularity for nearly two decades. The CS:GO community is known for its dedicated and passionate gamers, which is why it also has a broad betting community, rightfully earning plenty of attention at most mainstream sportsbooks.

StarCraft II

StarCraft II Logo
StarCraft has been at the forefront of the RTS (real-time strategy) genre ever since Brood War released in 1988. The game built upon the foundations of RTS games that were laid before it, but it brought plenty of innovation to go with it as well.

StarCraft’s immense depth and complexity are why it remains so popular to this day, boasting an ever-shifting meta game that’s often dictated by the pros themselves rather than its developers.

Today, StarCraft II is one of the most popular esports that always garners attention from bookmakers whenever a big tournament is in question.


Overwatch Logo
Overwatch is a first-person shooter game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. Reminiscent of the legendary Quake with its extremely fast-paced gameplay and necessity for quick thinking, Overwatch brought in a dimension to the FPS genre that we had not seen in a long time.

To no one’s surprise, the game surged in popularity following its release, eventually resulting in a competitive scene with a host of big-money tournaments. While Overwatch still has room to grow, you will find it covered at most sportsbooks, albeit with limited betting markets relative to bigger esports.

Why Bet on Esports?

Video games are unique, diverse, and fun. This translates well to esports, as each game offers unique betting opportunities. If you are betting on Dota 2, you may be betting on which team will take down the first Roshan. If you’re betting on CS:GO, you might try your hand at predicting who will defuse the first bomb. There are many exciting betting opportunities thanks to the diversity of esports. They allow you to take advantage of your game knowledge and turn it into profit.

Of course, betting on esports requires solid understanding of the game itself as well as its competitive scene, but the payoff is worth it. Esports is a new industry. In it, there is not much by way of regulations like in mainstream sports. In fact, esports can be very volatile, and constant change is within their nature. This is why nobody has quite a grasp on it – including sportsbooks.

Constant updates keep shaking up games and their competitive scenes, and the games themselves have too many variables in them for them to be safely predicted. Unlike in sports such as football, where match odds often get released a full year in advance, when it comes to esports, nobody knows exactly how things stand. Esports coverage at sportsbooks is getting better by the day, but it’s still in its infancy stage, and bookies don’t dedicate a whole lot of manpower to it.

This leads to unreliable odds that may not necessarily reflect the true strength of the teams or players involved in any given match. This is a good thing for you, the bettor, as you can stay ahead of the curve by exploiting your superior game knowledge.

Types of Esport Betting

Item/Skin Betting

Skin betting is a more casual type of betting. Item and skin betting is only popular with a select few games which have the gameplay mechanics that support that form of betting.

The most popular item betting game is CS:GO, as the game is littered with all sorts of skins for various weapons. These skins do not affect gameplay and are purely cosmetic; they are used as a currency on many betting sites because they can also be sold on the Steam market. While the money itself cannot be taken out of Steam and into your wallet, skins still hold real money value.

Real Money Betting

Real money betting is fairly self-explanatory, and it is the type of betting we’re focusing on in this article. Esports is becoming increasingly available for betting at mainstream sportsbooks. A few years ago, you could barely find an esports match to bet on, but nowadays, tournaments of the most popular esports always get coverage, and most matches feature more than a few betting markets to choose from.

Esports is still miles away from becoming on par with traditional sports, at least in terms of betting, but things are headed in the right direction. As the scene matures furthermore, so will it stabilize and offer greater incentive for bookmakers to expand their esports coverage.

Most Common Betting Markets

In general, esports matches are limited to no more than a dozen betting markets at most sportsbooks. Exceptions do apply. In Dota 2, CS:GO, or League of Legends, you can bet on various things that are unique to that game itself – first barracks, first blood, first Roshan/Baron, first knife kill – but these types of bets are not always available. Below, you will find the most common betting types available on esports matches.

Moneyline Bet – This is the simplest form of betting which represents betting on the winner of a single match or series.

Outright – Outrights are bets that represent betting on a tournament winner.

Handicap– Handicap betting is becoming increasingly available on esports matches, which is a great sign for experienced bettors. Handicap betting allows you to exploit your game knowledge for a bigger return on an otherwise unprofitable bet.

Over/Under – As most esports matches are either BO3 or BO5 series, you can bet Over/Under on the number of maps.

Map X Winner – Often times, you can bet on which team will win the first, second, or third map. X stands for map number.

Esports Betting Tips

Learn the Games

There are plenty of esports out there, and none are quite alike. This means that you will need to specialize in one esport in order to quickly maximize your game knowledge, thus your profits. Taking them on all at once would be too big of a challenge.

By possessing deep knowledge of the game you’re betting on, you can see things that even the bookies don’t. As an example, if in a Dota 2 match, one team is heavily favored against the other, it’s only natural that their odds will be lower across all betting markets. One such bet would be “First Roshan Kill.” However, what the bookies often don’t take into consideration is the hero lineup of those teams. Some heroes are much better suited at taking down Roshan early. Given the right lineup, any team can make easy work of Roshan, regardless of their perceived strength in relation to their opponent. Spotting a betting opportunity like this offers fantastic value.

We advise you to choose a game and specialize, but choose a game you like. Are you into first-person shooters, strategies, battle royales? Pick something you would play yourself, even if you decide not to play it. Otherwise, your entertainment factor would be almost non-existent, and it’s important that you enjoy yourself while betting.

Pay Attention to Formats

A lot of esports matches, regardless of game, are played in a best of 3 (BO3) or best of 5 (BO5) format. One-offs are called best of 1s (BO1). If it’s a large tournament, group stage matches are typically BO1s with the knockout stages transitioning to BO3s, whereas the final itself is usually is a BO5 or even a BO7. Most esports are too complex for a one-off match to successfully reflect a team’s true strength.

The difference in format can have a large effect on the outcome of the match, which is why you must take this into great consideration when making your bets. Upsets are much more likely to happen in BO1 matches. Even if we’re talking about a significantly weaker team playing one of the best teams in the world, an upset is more likely to happen in esports than in regular sports. A favorite can be easily caught off guard by a cheese strat, they may lapse in concentration and simply get outplayed, or even not take the match seriously for one reason or another.

As an example, Na’Vi, one of the best and most successful teams in Dota 2’s history, would often perform poorly in group stage matches, only to recover in the knockouts and deliver stunning performances all the way to the final. Bookies would give them favorable odds in any given match because they are the stronger team, but by following the team closely, you would potentially stay ahead of the bookies and net yourself a decent profit.

Know the Teams and Players

Knowing the teams and/or players of whichever esport you are betting on is crucial to a successful betting strategy. Of course, this stands true regardless of if you’re betting on esports, football, or horse racing.

If, for example, you’re betting on League of Legends, having good knowledge of the team you are betting on can benefit you in a multitude of ways. Perhaps some team is in a poor run of form, or they are having difficulties adapting to a new patch that brought in a slew of changes to the game.

Maybe Team X’s best player is given a champion that he doesn’t play often and is not fully comfortable with, or Team X is participating in a small tournament, and they’ve decided to use a stand-in that breaks up their team chemistry. These things may not always be reflected in the odds of the match, giving you plenty of opportunities to pounce.

Manage Your Bankroll

The most important thing when betting is not to bet with money you can’t afford to lose. This is usually a recipe for disaster. Instead, you should predetermine a betting budget and stick to it no matter what.

If you’d like, you can also split your bankroll into units and stick to a rigid betting strategy that doesn’t encompass betting more than a few units per match. You can value your unit at $1, $5, $10 – whatever suits your bankroll.

In a similar vein, never try and chase losses. If you’ve lost a few bets, keep in mind that losing is a part of betting, and it cannot possibly be avoided. Acting on impulse in the heat of the moment and placing invaluable bets will probably make your situation worse than it was before, which once again highlights the importance of betting with a preset budget.

Pace Yourself

There are plenty of esports matches being played every day, but that doesn’t mean you should make bets every day. Everyone wants to make money fast, but the key to a successful betting strategy is knowing when to bet, besides what to bet on.

If you’re unable to find a valuable bet for the day, you’d be best advised to hold off until such an opportunity appears. You’d be better off waiting patiently for the right bet rather than taking a greater risk on a match you’re having doubts on. By keeping your long-term success in mind, you will be a much more successful bettor.

Bet at Trusted Sportsbooks

This aspect of betting can’t be emphasized enough. All your strategies and value bets get thrown in the water if you’re dealing with a shady bookmaker. It is crucial to select a sportsbook that is not only reputable but one which takes great care of its customers and offers good tournament coverage, as well as quick payment options.

Below, you will find a list of esteemed and reliable betting sites that fit this bill and offer a care-free betting experience. You can click on each bookmaker for a full review to get the full scope of what you can expect from them.

1 SportsBetting.ag Logo $1,000
2 BetOnline Logo $2500
3 Bovada Logo $250
4 GTbets Logo N/A