Competitive video games were around as far back as the 1980s with organized arcades. But ‘e-sports’ as such has really hit its stride in the last decade. Specifically, the last five years or so has seen exponential growth in all e-sports sectors. 2020 was a bad year for sports events everywhere, what with the pandemic. In fact, e-sports was no exemption, as the major e-sports annual events like Dota 2 TI actually takes place in the presence of a live audience. Despite that, the pandemic also helped funnel in even more people towards e-sports and video games in general.
With the twitch viewer retention rate at the highest across the board, 2021 is set out to be a great year for e-sports. Naturally, such a massive gaming industry that rakes in cash by the millions also makes for great betting markets. But just like traditional sports, there are different types of e-sports with different betting markets. In this short guide, we will highlight the various types – so you can decide what best fits your interests.
Before we talk about fighting games, we have to address the fact that they generally steer clear of the term ‘e-sports’. Instead, the fighting games community prefers the term ‘competitive gaming’ – owing much to its old-school mores and older audience. But despite that, fighting games were actually the earliest form of e-sports around. Fighting games are also outside the sphere of mainstream PC gaming. Although PC is an option, they cater more towards consoles and handheld gaming – and the e-sports community also reflects that.
There are individual sports events for individual games, e.g. Capcom Cup for Street Fighter, but the one big event in this category is EVO. EVO (Evolution Championship Series) is held every year without fail ever since 1999, and it includes a good dose of all big AAA fighter franchises : Super Smash Bros, Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, and Soul Caliber to name a few. Fighting games also don’t have all that much coverage on major betting sites like Betway. You would have to resort to more niche betting sites like Unikrn to find EVO 2021 betting options.
If you had to put all the genres of modern gaming in order of popularity, shooters would definitely come front and center. Unlike most other categories, the dynamite action-packed nature of shooters makes it easily digestible entertainment for the masses, even when you are just engaging as the audience. The hippest trend in the shooter side of things is battle royale. The likes of PUBG, Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Warzone all have an expansive playground as major selling points. Despite that, the tighter arena shooters still dominate the e-sports sector. When we talk about arena-based shooters, the biggest fish in the sea is obviously Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
CSGO still almost always holds the top concurrent players record on steam. Part of that has to do with it going free2play. But the other part is definitely the popularity and money in the CSGO pro leagues. The pro circuit in CSGO started off strong in 2021 with the BLAST Championship. Like CSGO, Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege are still there as more modern flings on the CSGO formula. But the new addition, Valorant, is something you should look forward to in the coming years. All these tournaments, especially CSGO, have wide betting availability on nearly all betting platforms.
MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. These are the 5v5 offsprings of strategy games. And these have also dominated the e-sports sector for the longest time imaginable. Granted, a very widespread concern still holds that MOBA is a dying genre. Whether or not that is the case remains debatable. As for the present, all betting websites with e-sports have dibs on MOBA leagues like Dota 2 and League of Legends. There are actually a number of different games under this category – Smite and Heroes of The Storm for example. But their pro scene is not really what it used to be. The big boys of MOBA are still the two iconic top games: Dota 2 and League of Legends.
For Dota 2, it is a series of regional qualifiers leading up to the annual The International (which did not take place last year), and for League it is League World Championship. Outside of that, both games have a whole sleuth of independent pro circuit events with good prize pools. Another noteworthy mention is Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, which had a whole international championship called M1 in 2019. Unlike Dota 2 and League, though, you Bang Bang is not up in the radar of betting websites yet.
So which betting scene should you prioritize? The answer to this varies from one punter to another. The most important factor is actually the simplest : which genre are you more familiar with? For someone who is not much of a gamer, the arena shooters such as CS:GO will actually be easiest to get into, while the MOBAs will require much more technical knowledge. In fact, one needs to know the barebone game mechanics to even enjoy watching the pro scene for MOBAs. That leaves us with the other factor: flexibility.
Like traditional sports, e-sports betting is not limited to calling dibs on winning sides. You can bet on numerous other things like which side draws first blood, or which. (As for betting currency, one should remember that skin betting is officially considered illegal by most e-sports including CSGO) On this, the wider betting variety is obviously within the MOBAs. This circles back to the first point: you should go with the genre you are most familiar with.
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