Jens Hilgers, Bayes Esports: Digital and analogue realities will continue to merge

Bayes Esports will carry out a generational change to its software and a complete overhaul of the odds system in 2021, says co-founder Jens Hilgers (pictured above), as the company looks to capitalise on the huge growth of the esports betting market.

A leading esports data provider, Bayes – like so many others in the sector – has seen demand for its services accelerate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet this heightened demand, particularly on the data side and while sports were sidelined, also pressed home the need to converge the realities of esports’ offline presence with the digitalised world in which we live today. 

“The esports industry continues to grow, driven by an ever-expanding gamer audience and spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hilgers in an interview for Wirtschaftsforum.

“A significant challenge the industry still faces is in the availability of reliable in-game data in real time. Esports fans want tournament data, statistics, and analyses, all of which have been a given in traditional sports for decades. This is exactly where Bayes comes in.” 

To build on this understanding of where Bayes is today, we probably need a better understanding of where it all began for Hilgers, a self-confessed gamer.

“I originally founded DOJO Madness in 2014 for esports players,” he explained. “I used to be a gamer myself, and with DOJO we began developing coaching and training solutions for aspiring players.

“Together with Sportradar, I then established Bayes Esports in 2019 as a subsidiary of DOJO Madness, with a clear focus on providing data to business and corporate customers. At the beginning of this year, we changed the name DOJO Madness to Bayes Holding, underlining our focus on B2B business.”

This year, so many with a betting or gaming background have turned to esports. In fact, H2 Gambling Capital has projected a doubling of the overall market from $7 to $14 billion. But why work with Bayes?

“We are data providers to media companies, sports betting companies, and platforms – a wide range of stakeholders in the global sports industry,” replied Hilgers. “We excel in delivering not only the usual data accurately and in real time, such as which player was in possession of the ball for how many minutes, but also in-depth data and statistics. 

“We also offer value-added information that makes esports events even more exciting and that enhances the user experience, so that our corporate partners can increase the loyalty of their fans. Among other things, we provide real-time insights into the competitions before and after the games, video streams, betting odds, and even all-round solutions.” 

Expanding on the concept of personalising the data supply for clients, Hilgers added: “We have a self-service area that you can sign up for, so that data is automatically fed to you. But we also offer qualified packages with data that are individually tailored to customers and their needs.”

By now, you’ve probably heard all about the esports betting boom in 2020, fuelled at first by the success of sports-based titles back in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic (as a real-sports replacement of sorts), but how is Bayes looking to keep the momentum going in 2021?

Hilgers said: “It is still a high priority for us to get new suppliers onto the platform. In addition, we are in the process of completely overhauling our odds system and significantly improving the quality of the odds we offer, and significantly expanding our sales activities once again.”

As for the role Hilgers himself will play in these plans, he is keen to pass the torch to his “great management team” as he takes a step back from day-to-day involvement.  

“Bayes Esports is just one of the companies I have built,” he stressed. “I am now retiring from my active operational role because I have a great management team. I will work more in the background and take care of strategic issues. I have no ego – the most important thing is that the company is successful.”

If the origin of Bayes was the natural place for this conversation with Hilgers to begin, the next part of his “journey of discovery” seems an apt place to end – particularly now he is somewhat freed up to take on new challenges. 

“I have always been attracted to enabling new and exciting companies and helping to build them,” he concluded. “The feeling of being able to significantly shape and influence the industry through my continued entrepreneurial work appeals to me.

“Society is changing through computer games. The young generation is already living it. But society does not yet understand the full implications of the digital and analogue realities merging. Today already, young people no longer perceive them as different worlds but as a synthesis.” 

“This is what drives me and what I enjoy. I am on a journey of discovery, so to speak. At the same time, however, I also want to be successful in business. At BitKraft [another of the businesses he founded], we now manage over USD200 million in assets. This is a nice confirmation of what I do. I am always looking for the next, even bigger challenge.”

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