As the esports industry grows and grows, the betting industry is taking notice. Most major operators now offer esports betting to some extent, though by and large this is restricted to irregular established tournaments and leagues.
Moreover, being able to find in-play betting markets is even tougher still with operators seemingly reluctant to offer them for the timebeing. Enter PVP.ME, a platform which has just completed its beta stage.
Developed by Philipp Kornyshev and his team of dedicated gaming fans, it’s a purely esports betting platform which has been almost two years in the making and aims to offer esports fans a strong option for both in-play and pre-play markets.
SBC spoke to Phillip about PVP.Me, and how esports betting markets and the community itself differs to that of traditional sports.
SBC: First off Philipp could you please explain to SBC readers what it is PVP.ME offers and the story so far? How does the service differ to others currently on the market?
Phillip: PVP.ME was started by four gamer friends and myself – we loved to watch games and couldn’t find a website where we could enjoy betting ourselves. After 1.5 years of hard work we are finally ready to present our product!
PVP.ME is a real-money betting platform for esports, where users can bet on tournaments and events for games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and Dota 2.
Example like this are increasingly more common but here is where the similarities end – we don’t take on the role of the bookmaker, the users play against each other, and our system matches them. This allows us to have more profitable odds and provide live in-play betting for all games, so the odds never close.
We have spent over a year developing software which changes the odds in real-time, depending on things like amount of bets on the market, team strength and composition, form, maps – basically at any given moment in the game, the odds accurately reflect the game outcome. You can even change the odds you place the bet with or cancel the bet when you feel you made the wrong decision or the in-game situation changes.
SBC: Why do you think many major betting operators are reluctant to offer extensive esports markets at present?
Philipp: There are many factors really – it’s like a new sport appeared quite suddenly and many are slow to react, they want to test the waters first by offering a few matches a day for betting. They are getting there though…esports is already a bigger betting market than golf and rugby (according to Pinnacle Sports data).
Plus there are costs involved, like the need to hire additional esports analysts, study the games and the in-game markets. Last but not least, the audience is very different from the traditional sports bettors.
Esports is only now starting to become ‘mainstream’; it was a very closed community before, with their own traditions, memes, jokes, opinion leaders etc. To an outsider it just seemed silly, but now that it has blown up, it will be very interesting to observe traditional betting operators attempt to get into the scene.
SBC: In regard to questions of integrity issues in esports, is this something you see as a major problem?
Phillipp: It is actually a problem – there are people who think betting is detrimental to the esports industry.
And they have a point, there were a couple of big cases of match fixing, where several Counter-Strike teams would throw games so their owners would win big betting on them. Valve handed lifetime bans to all players involved and there was a crackdown on betting websites for a while.
When we created PVP.ME, one of the underlying goals was to increase transparency of esports and promote the culture of fair play. I think it’s just a matter of time before the prize money, sponsorship and salaries catch up with the rate of growth of the industry so that the players don’t need to do this kind of thing in order to make a profit.
SBC: With in-play and mobile betting increasingly popular across multiple traditional sports, is esports an ideal environment for live betting or are there issues in regard to streaming delays?
Phillipp: Yeah, mobile and in-play betting are trending – people want to be able to go out, watch the game and bet from their phone for example.
Esports is way more fast-paced than any traditional sport – one team can play three to four opponents a day. When there is a large tournament, you can have up to 10-15 big games a day – and this is only for Counter-Strike. Obviously this requires a lot more effort in organizing the betting process as everything changes very fast.
Yes, you’re correct about the delays. We try to use the official streams, if there are problems with it we use the hltv bot which tracks game information but even then unexpected delays happen. You have to follow players’ Twitter accounts and read comments, as they are often the most reliable source of information.
The underlying issue is that basically in one year, the amount of events and tournaments has doubled, and the quality has gone down. It’s up to the organizers to provide a good stream without delays, and since many are new to the scene they can’t always do it.
There were a couple of big fails in 2015 where something anecdotal happened (hello Gaming Paradise), where the computers for the event were stolen and they had to cancel a part of it. These occurrences happen less and less with the appearance of big tournaments and leagues like ESL and FaceIt.
SBC: What made you opt for CS:GO in your period of beta testing? And could you elaborate on your analysis of your findings from this time?
Phillipp: We decided to go with CS:GO because it is the game we all played the most! The matches are very dynamic, with comebacks and clutch rounds. The betting market for CS:GO is the largest, because the developers created a very balanced and competitive environment, ideally suited for betting.
Regarding our findings, people were really into in-play betting – 80% of our bets are made after the game has started. The majority of people watch the game on our website and are very quick to react to changes in the game and take advantage of it.
The churn rate (people who stopped using the service altogether) on the website was only 4%
We also found that gamers love a sure thing bet even if the win amount is very small – when a team is losing hard and its almost over, we get a surge of bets even with odds of 1.1. These people are very cautious players by nature. Naturally, others who like more risky plays are quick to follow and bet against them with odds of 8 – they can lose their money, or, something totally unexpected can happen and they can win 8x their bet amount. It happens more than you think, esports is very competitive, especially in the top 10 teams – it can turn around very quickly.
The rest of the standard metrics were good too – session length, bounce rate, conversion to registered users were 1.5-2 times higher than industry averages.
So all in all, we can conclude that the beta period was a success. We collected a lot of insights about what users want to see in a betting service, and will move forward in implementing it.
SBC: Finally, with 2016 looking set to be another big year for esports, what are your hopes and plans for PVP.ME this year?
Phillipp: We have just concluded our closed beta, fixed a lot of bugs and optimized the interface based on user feedback. The plan is to continue working on the platform to improve our live odds calculation mechanisms so we can provide the best live betting experience for our users.
We will focus on growth in 2016 – milestones include expansion to Asia and CIS, improving the functionality of the platform based on the feedback received during beta phase and building an engaged community. We will follow the scene and offer live betting on any notable titles that come up.
I’m positive that esports will continue to grow throughout the next few years – it has potential to become a truly worldwide phenomenon by 2020.