SBC News Exploring the yearly esports cycle: what to expect before the end of the year

Exploring the yearly esports cycle: what to expect before the end of the year

Martin Dachselt, CEO & MD, Bayes EsportsMartin Dachselt, CEO and Managing Director of Bayes Esports, explores high-profile events in the “big three” esports games and the opportunities they present for sports betting operators.

With many leagues just restarting after the summer break, the last months of the year often provide lesser engagement and fewer high-profile events in traditional sports than late spring and early summer. This, in turn, leaves betting companies and their users with arguably less interesting events to follow in the later parts of the year. Where other sports are winding down, an unlikely genre can come to assistance: esports.

In esports, the cycle is different. A large number of finals and world-class events are taking place between September and December, serving as a very interesting alternative for both betting companies and their users.

Some of the largest tournaments of the year are traditionally set during the second half of the year, including The International in Dota 2 and the League of Legends World Championship. In CS:GO, the ESL Pro League finals usually start in late August and finish in September or early November. December sees the finals of ESL Impact League and the BLAST Premier World Final, and that is just naming a few.

League of Legends

League of Legends has several important year-round regional leagues around the world, and each league takes place across several seasonal splits. The best teams of every split and league can earn a chance to compete at international events that see them compete against teams from other regions. These events usually provide the most interesting matchups and best viewership.

The betting market for League of Legends builds up throughout the year and usually peaks at two key international tournaments: the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) and the World Championship (Worlds). This year’s edition of MSI saw almost 2.3m viewers tune in, and the 2022 edition of the World Championship attracted more than 5m people in total, making it the second most-watched event in the history of esports.

Having that large of an audience means that there is a large demand for betting options as well. Although the game’s developer, Riot Games, is not allowing betting companies to sponsor the teams in the franchised leagues, official match data is available to betting companies in the same way as in other sports.

This year’s Worlds will take place between October 10th and November 19th in South Korea, making it one of the longest-lasting single tournaments in esports. A total of 22 teams will participate.

Key takeaways: The 2023 edition of Worlds returns to South Korea, the country of reigning champions DRX, this October and represents the longest-lasting single tournament in esports. With plenty of high-stakes matches to be played, there are a lot of opportunities for sportsbooks to offer engaging betting offerings.

Dota 2

Although Dota 2 and League of Legends are the same genre of game (MOBA), the two titles attract different groups of viewers. For example, League of Legends is not as popular in Eastern Europe, while Dota 2 is not as popular in South Korea. Dota 2 is also presented in two multiple languages, with most viewers watching the English, Russian and Chinese broadcasts.

Called the Dota Pro Circuit, the series of tournaments consists of Regional Leagues and Majors. Regional Leagues replaced the Minor tournaments in 2021, and feature a promotion and relegation system, with Division I being the highest tier. The teams in Division I earn points towards The International and invites to Majors, large-scale LAN events that happen several times in a year. The Majors, in turn, award further points towards the largest event of the season. 2023 saw the first-ever Dota 2 Majors organized in Bali (Indonesia), Lima (Peru), and Berlin (Germany). Bayes Esports was the official provider of live esports data for the Dota 2 Major that took place earlier this year in Berlin in May.

In addition to the Pro Circuit there are a series of 3rd party events, some online and some on LAN. One of the biggest events of the season was the Riyadh Masters, a $15 million final for the 2022/2023 ESL Pro Tour. Teams qualified for this event via two $1M satellite tournaments (DreamLeague Season 20 and 21), and via ESL’s Pro Tour Rankings. Both the Riyadh Masters and the satellite events had Bayes Esports as the designated provider of official live esports data.

In a similar fashion, Dota 2 betting peaks around Major tournaments and for The International, a tournament that serves as the season-ending event for the Dota 2 teams. For 2023, twelve teams are directly invited to the tournament, and eight teams earn a place through regional qualifiers. This tournament is also well known within the esports industry, as it has historically featured immense prize pools peaking at more than $40m in 2021.

Winning The International is one of the most prestigious accolades in all of esports, and the tournament regularly sees extremely high-intensity matches, making it one of the most anticipated events in the world of esports betting. This year’s event will take place between October 12 and October 29 in the United States, and will feature a total of 20 teams.

Key takeaways: The International returns to Seattle (USA) after several years, which will make for nostalgic and interesting viewing. With its high prize-pool and sizeable footprint in Eastern Europe in particular, The International is the prime esports event for sportsbooks looking to establish themselves in the market. Valve is also making changes to the tournament’s format this year, spreading it over more days to maximize viewership, similar to what Riot Games does with the League of Legends World Championship.


With the announcement of the development of Counter-Strike 2, the newest title in the long-standing video game franchise Counter-Strike (CS), the interest in the game’s upcoming esports events could not be higher. Whether they will be played in the current iteration of the game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or in the highly anticipated Counter-Strike 2, the rest of 2023 is packed with high-profile CS events all the way until December.

Due to the fact that CS has no single main tournament circuit such as Dota 2 or League of Legends, several tournament organizers host their own leagues and standalone events throughout the year. The most-known are BLAST and ESL, with Bayes Esports providing official live data from both.

Due to the segmented landscape of competitive CS and the fact that a lot of separate tournaments take place regularly, opportunities for betting on high-impact matchups usually come more often than in other esports titles, which is what makes CS one of the most interesting games to bet on.

For example, the ESL Pro League, one of the longest-lasting leagues in CS, takes place throughout September in Malta, and is immediately followed by the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown 2023 and IEM Sydney 2023 in October.

November will see the BLAST Premier Fall Final 2023 take place, as well as the CS Asia Championships 2023, and the Elisa Masters Espoo 2023, all tournaments with more than $200,000 prize pools in just one month.

The year will conclude with the BLAST Premier World Final 2023 in Abu Dhabi, a $1m tournament, the finals of the women’s ESL Impact League Season 4, and with DreamHack events in North America and Europe.

What makes CS interesting is the fact that almost all of the events taking place throughout fall gather the world’s best teams, and all of them apart from the ESL Pro League are knockout tournaments. This means that matchups are bound to be high-stakes and very well suited for betting.

CS has historically been the most popular esports game for betting, due to the Counter-Strike series being around for more than 20 years and the fact that both tournament organizers and teams are open to collaborating with betting companies. Furthermore, Counter-Strike fans tend to be more mature, making them a prime audience for sportsbooks.

Key takeaways: Major winners Team Vitality, Heroic, G2, FaZe and NAVI are arguably the main contenders for the rest of the season, but with CS tournaments being held so often, it is safe to assume that we would see at least two or three separate teams take trophies before year’s end. With premier esports events being just around the corner at any time, CS is a great option for sportsbooks looking to explore esports betting.

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