How to Bet on eSports
ESports have been sweeping the nation over the last decade. As their popularity has risen in recent years thanks to the increased exposure that sites like Twitch have provided, so has their status as a legitimate sport. While some may argue whether or not competitive gaming deserves to be considered a sport, no one can deny that the games played at a professional level require extreme amounts of talent and skill.
The increased attention and respect that eSports have garnered in recent years has come with an increased demand for betting on eSports. Sportsbooks were initially hesitant to get involved in the process of handicapping and creating lines for competitive gaming events, but the popularity of these games left them little choice. Bettors can now wager on eSports in many of the same ways that they bet on conventional sports.
Moneyline betting is the most common option
As is the case with most head-to-head competitions, moneyline betting is a reliable go-to option. Betting on a player or team to win on the moneyline is simply a bet on which side will win the game, which is easy to understand and follow.
Of course, due to the fact that players and teams vary in skill level, different odds are given on each side. For example, in the European League of Legends Championship Series, say that Fnatic is playing against Team Vitality, a solid opponent but one that is not expected to defeat Fnatic. In this instance, the line might be set at Team Vitality (+170) vs. Fnatic (-215).
When reading odds listed in this format, numbers with the “-” symbol in front of them are the betting favorite. The number following the minus lets you know how much you have to wager to win $100. So in this example, with Fnatic going off at -215, to win $100 you would have to place a bet of $215. This payout ratio stays the same regardless of how much you decide to wager, meaning a bet of $21.50 would pay $10, or a bet of $430 would pay $200 if Fnatic emerges victorious.
On the other hand, numbers with a “+” on the moneyline are the betting underdog. This number indicates how much you will win if you bet $100 on this side. So with Team Vitality paying +170, a $100 bet would win $170, a $1000 wager would win $1700 and a $40 wager would win $68 if Team Vitality is able to pull off the upset.
Moneylines on eSports events vary greatly depending on the skill discrepancy between the two players or teams involved. Two evenly matched teams might wind up with odds of around -115 (bet $115 to win $100) each. While a big favorite in a match might be a -1500 (bet $1500 to win $100) favorite over a huge +700 (bet $100 to win $700) underdog.
In some cases, against the spread wagering is also available
While moneyline wagers are available across all eSports, some game lines also include an against the spread option. ESports spread options come in one of two forms; a 1.5-point line with adjusted payouts like the ones used in the MLB and NHL, or larger spreads designed to create two even sides like the ones used in the NBA and NFL.
The 1.5-point line is used when betting on a game that is a best-of-three matches. For example, let’s say that the Space Soldiers are facing Imperial in a best-of-three game in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive StarLadder I-League. In this game, the Space Soldiers are going off as a -220 favorite to win the series while Imperial is a +175 underdog on the moneyline.
Instead of betting on the moneyline, you could take the Space Soldiers at -1.5 (+150) or Imperial at +1.5 (-225). The spread is covering matches, so if you take Space Soldiers -1.5 matches, they must win this best-of-three game 2-0 for you to earn a win. A bet on Imperial at +1.5 will pay out if Imperial wins the game outright or if it loses 2-1, as the +1.5 match handicap would turn a 2-1 loss into a 2.5-2 win.
When betting on a single match or a best-of-one game, the spread works more like a conventional football or basketball spread, providing bettors with an alternative to the moneyline by evening the two teams out with a point handicap. For example, say that PACT is going up against Evolution in a best-of-one CS:GO match. PACT is a -500 favorite in this match over Evolution at +365. A PACT supporter won’t be thrilled with paying the huge price on a win while an Evolution supporter may know that the odds of an outright upset are quite low.
So instead of betting on the moneyline, both bettors bet on their team against the spread instead. In this hypothetical matchup, PACT is a -6.5 favorite at +100 while Evolution is +6.5 at -125. CS:GO plays round by round until one team reaches 16 round wins. This spread is on rounds. So for PACT to cash in at +100, the team must beat Evolution by a score of 16-9 or better. Evolution at +6.5 (-125) wins if Evolution pulls off an outright upset or if it loses the game by six rounds or less.
Going OVER and UNDER on the total
In addition to against the spread wagers, best-of-one games and single matches will often also have a posted total. Sticking with the CS:GO example from above, the total for this match between PACT and Evolution might be set at 25.5 rounds. The total is determined by adding the total number of rounds played before a winner was crowned.
So for example, if PACT crushes Evolution 16-5, the total comes out to 21 (16 + 5 = 21), which would make the UNDER 25.5 a winner. Conversely, if Evolution pulled off a 16-14 upset, the total would come out to 30 and pay the OVER 25.5 tickets. Who wins the match has no impact on totals wagers; all that matters is the final score. Totals betting and scoring change from video game to video game, so be sure to research and understand how the totals and point systems in a specific game work before wagering on it.
Individual map betting and live betting
Since many eSports games use the best-of-three format as opposed to the best-of-one format, options like round spreads and totals aren’t available on the regular betting line. But depending on the game and the event, individual map betting is sometimes made available.
By diving into the games prop section, you can bet on which team will win each of the three individual maps as a standalone wager. When available, you can also bet on these individual maps with spreads or totals. Another popular prop bet is to pick the correct score of the game, determining which team will win and whether they will win exactly 2-0 or 2-1 for more favorable payouts than just betting on the game outright.
To make matters even more exciting, there is also a platform for live betting while the match is taking place. Betting odds during live betting fluctuate rapidly based on the in-game action. Some of the most popular live bets include betting on individual rounds, or which team will pick up the first kill or be the first team to 10 kills. Live bets are different depending in the sport of course, so be sure to check to see if your favorite sports and teams are available to live bet on game day.
Looking to the future
Lastly, eSports bettors can bet on future events such as who will win championships in the same way that they can bet on championship futures in conventional sports. For example, the Asian Games is a continental event held every four years in which Asian countries come together to battle across various eSports. Many of the world’s best League of Legends players reside in Asia, which makes the LoL event in this tournament an intriguing one.
Instead of waiting for individual games to wager on, bettors can simply bet on which team they believe will win the Asian Games League of Legends competition before the tournament even begins. In 2018, South Korea entered as a +125 favorite over China (+130) and Chinese Taipei (+500). Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were massive long shot options at +500000 each.
Bigger tournaments, like the annual Defense of the Ancients 2 mega tournament “The International”, provide more future options than just who will win the tournament. Other future options include odds on which team will win the longest game, which will pick the fewest number of heroes, which will have the most kills in a game and which will have the fewest deaths.
This is an exciting time for eSports bettors. Sports like football and basketball are hard to beat nowadays with all of the advanced stats and algorithms available to sportsbooks when making their lines. ESports are still so new and so diverse that finding wagering value and turning a profit on betting is quite possible for the bettor willing to put in the time and research.