Maybe you've played video games when you were younger, perhaps you haven't picked up a console controller for years, but you have probably heard about the rapidly growing eSports - a business that is estimated to be worth almost $1.5 billion by 2020.
Players playing eSports are already competing for prize money of up to $24 million - and where there is prize money involved, there is betting too. eSports can be hard to grasp, and not like traditional sports you watch on TV worldwide.
Whether you are looking to better understand it, watch it or even bet on it: this is your geek's guide to eSports.
So, what are eSports?
Generally, eSports is competitive video gaming at a professional level – the players play games full time in a way they are paid to. The larger the player base and fan support, the more important the competition. Like with all sports, there are a winner and a loser.
Tekken 7 Tournament at the Twitch ESports Arena at the Electronic Entertainment Expo
The most popular eSports are played in either leagues or tournaments culminating in a final event - like respective football associations that have their own continental competitions; Europe (UEFA Champions League), South America (CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores de América), eSports are the same. European teams and players play each other, Asian players the same, North American and so on, culminating in end best of the world tournaments, much like a World Cup.
What type of games are played?
As with all sports, games differ, typically there are two formats:
- First-Person Shooter (FPS)
- Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)
The German e-athlete Kuro 'KuroKy·' Salehi Takhasom (2-L) conferres with his team mates before the beginning of the semi-final game
In FPS games, the aims are different. Players and teams compete to directly "kill" the opposing team, take control of a location, or take turns attacking and defending and increasing their score on each objective.
eSports doesn't necessarily equate to violence - there are also card games and even FIFA football competitions. Other eSports competitions include strategy and fighting games like Street Fighter. Sports games and fighting games are the simplest to follow as bettors and fans can follow the sports as the rules are similar to traditional sports or as per fighting games, the knocked-out person loses.
Players fight "Street Fighter V" on their video games for the demonstration of e-Sports at the Tokyo Game Show 2017
Strategy games, like StarCraft 2, require players to meticulously build armies and direct them against their opponents with the aim of defeating them using military strategy and tactics. Card games like Hearthstone require competitors to best one another with fantasy monsters and spells with the objective to destroy or take an opponent’s "health."
Are eSports considered as real sports?
Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary supports this:
"A contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other."
Yet, archery and chess are considered a sport, and this has limited (if any) physical impact to the human body. You could argue that these sports mentally challenge the human body. If this is so, then consequently eSports can be considered a sport.
Where can I watch eSports?
Depending on the popularity of the tournaments, some competitions can be attended in-person, yet most leagues upload their previous matches on their YouTube channels.
Like all sports competition events, eSports has an ardent betting culture, with bookmakers like Sportsbet offering odds on events or teams like the Hellraiser’s.
Betting on eSports
If you wish to bet on eSports, you'll need to grasp how betting works - what the odds represent. Like all sports betting, odds reflect the probability of any given outcome during a match or game.
So, if you wanted to be on a Counterstrike game, you would need to check the odds of the two teams. If one side has odds of 1.42 and the other has 2.85, then the lower odds team is more likely to win, whilst the higher odds will pay-out more should they "upset the odds" and win. It's that simple!
A young woman playing the game 'Counterstrike' during the computer game festival 'DreamHack'
You can place your bets with an online bookmaker like Sportsbet.
Whether you agree that eSports is a competitive sport or not, there is no doubting that the play is as competitive and unpredictable as traditional sports. With bettors searching for new ways to make wins in sports betting – eSports immense popularity and growth are providing just that!
Words: David Bailey-Lauring