Not too long ago, today’s electronic sports (eSports) were viewed as nothing more than computer games played by children and teenagers. And to outsiders they still are. But although some may not be aware of the revolution that has occurred over the last decade, eSports is now an industry expected to surpass the $1 billion mark in the next two years. Not huge yet, but not negligible either.
The electronic sports industry has modeled itself on the sport industry and has the same basic characteristics: coaches, professional teams, sponsors, star players, commentators, tournaments that are played in gigantic arenas in front of tens of thousands of fans and are streamed live to many others, with prize pools of hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars. Last year’s The International (basically an annual World Championship of Dota 2) had a prize pool of more than 20 million dollars.
Just like non-competitive pc games can feel as real as life itself, because they satisfy fundamental human needs, playing and watching eSports gives people the same thrill and emotion that real sports tend to offer. Some cry when their favorite NBA or Football team loses or wins a long awaited cup, others when their favorite League of Legends or CS:GO team does the exact same thing.
Good electronic sports are successful because they are remarkably complex but at the same time fascinating to play and watch. Take Dota 2 for example. It is a free-to-play MOBA game (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) created and published by the same company which owns the Steam platform, namely Valve Corporation. Its development began in 2009 and it was released in July 2013. Since then, the game has grown tremendously in popularity and at the moment has more than 12 million players worldwide.
eSports Gambling: League of Legends & Dota 2
Dota 2 is a real-time strategy game that uses many RPG elements and is played in a 5 vs 5 format. Two teams, named The Radiant and The Dire, pick heroes (one hero per player, out of a pool of more than 110 possibilities) at the beginning of each game, and then fight each other on a two-sided map in an attempt to destroy the other team’s Ancient (which is the main building inside a team’s base).
Every hero has four talents (which are unlocked at level 10, 15, 20 and 25) and a unique set of four or more abilities (some that can be activated and others that are passive), and grows in an RPG-like manner. When you kill enemy creatures or heroes, destroy enemy buildings and so on, you gain gold and experience. The gold can be used to buy items and the experience helps you to level up. At each level, your hero becomes stronger and gains one skill point that can be spent on any of his available talents and abilities.
Each team splits its efforts and resources in order to protect (or attack) three separate lanes, each being defended by friendly towers and creatures and leading to the base.
With more than 900 game-mechanics and knowledgeable aspects that have to be assimilated in order to be understood even at the beginning, MOBA games like Dota2 are anything but easy. In fact, it takes years to learn and master. However, it is so well made and addictive, and receives so much support from its community, that it has become possibly the most successful electronic sport in the world (at least in terms of the prize pools offered in professional tournaments).
eSports have enormous replay value due to the sheer number of elements that make them up. It’s practically impossible to get bored of them once you get involved and start to develop a bit of skill. Some are played in a team vs team format (and could be compared to Basketball) while others offer a 1 vs 1 confrontation (similar to what you see in sports like Tennis or MMA). Furthermore, some are first-person shooters (like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), others are MOBAs (like Smite), others belong to the real-time strategy genre (like StarCraft 2) and so on. So there’s a wide variety to choose from.
Being highly addictive and climbing new heights every year, electronic sports are definitely here to stay for a long long time. And for some people, this raises the following question: could I make money by betting on eSports?
Well, the possibility certainly exists and has existed for a number of years. Websites like betway.com and bet365.com provide gambling services for people who want to bet on their favorite eSports team. The procedure is pretty straightforward and similar to the one being used for regular sports: you bet on the result of a match or an entire tournament, and if you win you get a certain amount of money back, relative to how much you betted and the odds associated to the team you betted on.
If you decide to put money on the result of an eSports match, keep in mind that betting on eSports is identical to betting on any other sport: the more you know about the particular game that you are betting on, the better your chances of making the right guess. So improving your knowledge of it or gaining access to someone who’s an expert on the subject should be the first step when trying to become a successful bettor in this area.
Become familiar with the professional scene, watch the big tournaments and try to assess the current form of each team. Study the players who belong to a team and become knowledgeable about their MMR (Matchmaking Rating) and level of skill. This kind of knowledge will serve you well when trying to figure out who’s the real favorite, who’s the underdog and what are the odds of a certain team beating another. Lacking it turns what should be calculated risk taking into blind gambling, and the results will almost certainly be the opposite of the ones you desire.
Even though it has grown a lot over the last decade, the eSports industry is still in its infancy and will most likely continue to evolve for a long time to come. The winds of change are blowing and with each new generation of kids who are much more interested in pc games than in the latest reality shows on TV, eSports will only get bigger.