Abios's Niclas Sundell
Niclas Sundell of Abios

Abios’ Niclas Sundell: How sportsbooks can make the most out of CS2

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has notoriously been the most popular esports title in betting, only rivalled by sports games such as FIFA (now EA Sports FC) or NBA2K. 

Now, the game is upgrading to its next enactment, Counter-Strike 2, in stages. The last IEM Cologne was played in CS:GO, and we’re seeing pros putting in hundreds of hours into the new game to stay ahead of the competition and stay on top when the new title launches.  

Niclas Sundell, Head of Sales at Abios, is a former professional CS:GO player and has worked in the esports industry for 5+ years. He shares his insights on how Counter-Strike 2 is set to impact competitive play and how it shifts a team’s probability of winning. 

Teams: Remaining competitive now or betting on the future 

Large, ongoing tier 1 tournaments such as ESL Pro League were just played in CS:GO. This means that the teams putting a lot of hours and effort into securing a high prize pool in the autumnal competition might have a harder time keeping up to speed with Counter-Strike 2. 

At the same time, the ESL Pro League strongly impacts how teams fare in upcoming tournaments, making it crucial for tier 1 teams to remain in the competition. After all, the team that catches the top position in the ESL Pro League secures a spot at IEM Katowice 2024. 

This can give teams who normally compete in tier 2 or 3 tournaments a leg up on the normally unreachable top contenders. CS2 is essentially the same game as CS:GO, but has many new mechanics and features that need to be mastered on the highest level for these players to stay competitive versus their opponents. If the top teams don’t get enough time to hone their skills in CS2, lower-tier teams might just close in and snag important qualifier positions once the CS2 circuit starts.

Moreover, with changes to the tournament circuit in 2025 announced by Valve and new talent emerging, teams who’ve not had rosters in CS:GO might very well find an opportunity in CS2 as the esports scene opens up for competition. For teams looking to find talented players and rosters, the early months of CS2 might quickly showcase promising talent with a competitive advantage to more well-established teams: that they understand Counter-Strike 2 better. 

Players: Good aim and strong mechanics wins the race 

It is already clear that players who put in lots of time outside of ESL Pro League practising will see an advantage come Counter-Strike 2. With over 100 hours of gameplay, FaZe Clan’s Ropz is a great example of a player who knows important smokes, clears and angles, making him very competitive. Players focusing more on the ESL Pro League might not see the same advantage. 

CS2 feels very different from CS:GO in terms of gameplay. It heavily favours players with superior aim, as it is possible to run and gun, a feature commonly seen in CS competitor VALORANT. 

With the increased importance of aim, some players can buy a Deagle and headshot several opposing team members easily, as the removal of the tick rate makes every headshot hit its mark. While this is early-stage, sharpshooters like Niko in G2 Esports might benefit from these changes. Meanwhile, other players might need to adapt their playstyles. Players who previously relied on their tactical prowess and game sense might need to change their approach to remain competitive.

With CS2 comes players and teams who’ve practised loads in the new game and others who’ve barely had time to touch it because of other commitments in ESL Pro League. As such, we might see new players and teams entering the ecosystem that manage to quickly break ground and rise in the ranks in the new game. As in any volatile sports scenario, it will likely create more upsets, uncertain matchups and Cinderella story victories. 

Sportsbooks: Capitalise on the surge of viewers while riding the waves of volatility 

The novelty of Counter-Strike 2 will likely increase the amount of viewers for Counter-Strike, which can act as a great lever for sportsbooks looking to reach new audiences. Nonetheless, it also levels the playing field between sportsbooks and bettors. 

The performance of teams or players is greatly affected by how much they have practised the new game. Most teams are very secretive about this, which means that sportsbooks and bettors can have similar levels of information available in some instances. In these situations, the historical data sportsbooks have relied on in the past might quickly seem redundant if old fan favourites struggle to find their footing and lower-tier teams climb the ladders. 

CS2 will also be played in MR12, meaning the maximum number of rounds per half will be 12 instead of the previous 15. With fewer total rounds, rounds that impact the economy, such as pistol rounds, will significantly affect the game’s outcome. It favours players well-versed in pistols, which can increase the popularity of player and round-based markets. 

As such, when CS:GO gets completely sunsetted, it is more important than ever for sportsbooks to ensure they have the right competency onboard, err on the side of caution, and close markets in time. 

Abios’ automated models are trained on thousands of hours of play. Still, at Abios, we recognise that it is equally important for our models to run on data directly from game servers and have traders in place with expert knowledge in esports readily available 24/7 to tweak and change probabilities where necessary. As we hire people who play the game themselves and/or have high knowledge of it, our traders are up-to-date with the latest information in the esports scene, ensuring we have the information necessary to make good judgement decisions where needed. 

With the right preparations in place, we can make the most of the likely influx of new viewers CS2 brings. There are some markets we believe to be more interesting than others. For example, player performance will be heavily impacted by how much time a player has spent in the new game and how well they and their team adapt to the changes, impacting match outcomes and probabilities. As such, we believe total player kills over/under markets to be especially interesting going forward. 

With CS2 just released, predicting how events will unfold is hard. Nonetheless, we’re excited to follow the new title, continue monitoring game updates, and analyse player and team performances to ensure our products remain operating to the highest standard.

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