March 27, 2021

The practice of betting on a sporting event has existed for as long as the games that are being betted on have. With time, as various sports professionalised into the intricate, systematic, interconnected leagues and tournaments that form part of different pyramids across the world that we know of today, so did the bookmakers governing the betting around said sports.

Over the past decade, we saw video games complete their journey from being a leisurely pastime to giving rise to fully-fledged professional sporting events, bringing eSports into the mainstream. Naturally, with mainstream professional tournaments comes a demand for betting, and thus the betting markets for eSports have emerged and albeit nascent compared to their traditional counterparts, continue to become more and more ubiquitous and sophisticated.

Usually, the betting markets for both traditional sports and eSports used to be offered by different bookmakers, but the recent years have seen a rise of eSports events based on video games like Madden NFL, FIFA, and NBA2K, that are in turn digital simulations of their real-life counterparts (respectively American football, soccer, and basketball) that have seen traditional bookmakers like BetWay establish a betting market for eSports as well.

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With the past year dictating most of us to find new ways to live and work within the confines of our home, video games have seen a rise of users and in turn, professionals. With the eSports betting market unsurprisingly on the rise, we take a look at the few factors that differentiate eSports betting from that of the traditional sports.


Understanding both the video game and the underlying traditional sport – As a punter, you not only need to have an understanding of the players, but also the video game. When that game is a simulation of a real-life sport like football or basketball, keeping track of the real-life happenings gives you an extra edge to make calculated moves in-game.


Injuries – On the field, players of traditional sports are more prone to physical injuries than their eSports counterparts. While eSports players are also susceptible to long-term fatigue by traveling and restless training and other psychological challenges, a relative lack of spontaneous injuries mean the punters have one less factor to worry about – an unpredictable event that could derail their bet.


Weather – Talking about unpredictable events, weather plays a big role in determining how a game could play out. If you’re up on your weather forecast, it might just give you an edge to hazard a better wager. Weather doesn’t factor too much into eSports, who have much more chaotic variables to make things interesting anyway.

Also Read – A Guide to Betting on Soccer


The matter of refereeing – Regulating an eSports event is much less of a fuss than traditional sports, because the rules of a video game are exercised by a computer, who can make absolutely certain decisions up to nano proportions. On-pitch sports have human referees, and as long as an actual person is involved in officiating a game there shall always be a window for ambiguity despite technological intervention. If you’re following football closely, you already know the effect VAR has had.

Rewards –
The bookmakers for traditional sports might have gone digital with time, but given they have existed for over a century in various forms, betting odds were regulated on actual books, hence the term bookmaking. Betting markets and subsequent rewards for eSports are predominantly digital, so much so that in many cases even the rewards are virtual.

Case in point, games like FIFA reward you with in-game objects for correctly predicting a real-life event. In Counter Strike (CS), bettors are rewarded with skins for their in-game armory, which they can then either use or sell to potential buyers to gain money to buy more games on Steam, the platform CS is played on.


Software updates – Another volatile factor dictating the functionality of a video game is software updates. Updates are usually carried out to fix glitches and improve overall performance of a game, but in many cases it can also bring about changes on a small level yet effective enough to make major gameplay changes in a game, that in turn requires a bettor to keep up with the updates to factor the changes in their bets.

Case in point, FIFA updates usually bring about a change in how the players and ball move, often making certain aspects (heading, dribbling) more effective or completely useless, making the players drastically change their line-ups.


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Reliability on historical patterns –
With traditional sports, the teams are part of a system that has been institutionalised sometimes over a century and a half. Going into an event, a bettor has access to decades of performances and odds to wager a bet on which team will perform which way. While there are always big surprises every once in a while (the betting odds for Leicester City’s 2015-16 Premier League win were set at 5000/1), overall results have a pattern discernible enough for bookmakers’ odds to become a reliable source for extrapolating an outcome.

That can’t be relied upon very much in eSports because, for starters, there isn’t a century-worth of data available. Not only the is eSports industry not as standardized as its traditional counterpart, it also boasts games of all sorts, from fantasy worlds (DOTA, Diablo) to shooters (Counter Strike, Call of Duty) to simulated sports (FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA2K), inviting players and viewers from radically different walks of life. The constituent factors make for a much more open market, subject to crazier bets being won. While patterns will start emerging the more the industry grows and time goes by, for the moment the chaos makes for interesting results.

Written By

Anshuman Joshi

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