Abios: sportsbooks should be making the most of major esports events

Abios: sportsbooks should be making the most of major esports events

With large-scale esports events capturing the attention of millions across the world, there are growing opportunities for sportsbook operators to educate punters on esports betting products. Abios discusses.

Esports is a great way for sportsbooks to combat the seasonality of regular sports, reach new audiences and find new revenue streams. The esports ecosystem is more similar to sports than first meets the eye with large-scale leagues, tournaments and competitions allowing viewers to watch their favourite teams play. 

Where many sports competitions host regional leagues in specific countries, esports leagues tend to be international. Teams composed of players of various nationalities play in regional leagues that culminate in large-scale events that attract millions of viewers. 

The big three esports, League of Legends, Dota 2 and CS:GO, all host international tournament circuits that run throughout the year and capture audiences from all over the world. 

They range from minor leagues followed by the most ingrained esports fans to large-scale events such as The International and the Worlds Championship that attract millions of international viewers. 

Tournament structures for the major esports titles and leagues

League of Legends is the largest PC-based esports game in terms of player base and has millions of fans all over the world. The yearly tournament circuit is divided into 12 regions and two splits, spring and summer. In between, there is a Mid-Season Invitational, considered the second-largest tournament in the circuit and hosts a $ 250,000 prize pool. At the end of the summer season, the teams compete in play-offs for a chance to reach the World Championships in the fall, which boasts a prize pool of $ 2,225 million.

Dota 2 is another MOBA-style game that sees large popularity in many parts of the world, especially in Europe. The Dota Pro Circuit is played in six regions acting as their own separate tournaments. The regions play in three regional leagues and Majors, which are divided into winter, spring and summer tours. 

The highest-placed teams within the regional leagues get to compete in Majors, which feature prize pools of around $ 500.000. After the summer tour, the top teams are invited to the world championships of Dota 2, The International. Its prize pool is partly made up of crowdfunding, which allows it to reach record-breaking levels. In 2021, it reached $ 40.1 million. 

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive yearly tournament circuit doesn’t have the linear structure of League of Legends or Dota 2. It features two Valve-sponsored Majors a year, run by tournament organisers such as ESL, PGL, Intel, Starladder and BLAST. However, there are many other tournaments and leagues in play throughout the year featuring various prize pools and tiers of play. 

The most prestigious ones are typically run by well-established organisers and feature the best teams and largest prize pools. These include ESL Pro Tour Masters, one Championship (Katowice, Cologne), BLAST Pro Tour and others. 

Advertising and sponsorships in esports

While there are opportunities for sportsbooks to engage with audiences for large esports events, it is worth being mindful of the fact that all tournament organisers don’t allow betting-related advertisements and sponsorships. Betting advertisements and sponsorships are not allowed for League of Legends tournaments, and Valve Corporation has sent similar signals to teams participating in The International in Dota 2. 

Nonetheless, several teams have betting sponsors in both Dota 2 and CS:GO, with prominent Dota 2 team,Team Spirit, being sponsored by 1xbet and GG.bet being an international partner to CS:GO Team Vitality. The latter was announced just before BLAST Premier Fall Groups in 2022, where the partnership entails jersey branding, video content and bonuses for players. Many tournaments and teams in CS:GO have sponsorships with various betting companies, which could be one of the leading reasons for CS:GO being the title generating the most revenue in esports betting. 

Another one is that CS:GO seems to mainly be popular in Europe, Brazil and North America, which are all largely regulated betting markets. Other games, such as League of Legends, might see similar popularity all over the world but has extensive fan bases in China and South Korea where betting is outlawed. 

Products that are catered to esports fans

While advertising might be paramount for new customer acquisition, it’s equally important to ensure products are in line with the expectations of esports fans to bring home the goal.

Large-scale tournaments cause an influx of viewers for esports. To cater to old and new viewers, sportsbooks should aim to create educational content around their bets for players to feel comfortable in their decision-making process, while adding an offering that falls in line with the expectations of esports fans. 

Many esports fans, whether they be enthusiasts or casual viewers, seem to follow professional players to a larger extent than teams. This means that they might have more insights into how the player will perform, than the performance of a specific team. 

To cater to the bettor’s perceived knowledge, expanding a traditional offering of main lines, such as match winner and match handicap, with player props is beneficial. 

It allows bettors to place bets on specific player performance, using their knowledge to bet on the aspects of a match they’re most interested in. It adds another dimension to the betting experience.

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