Bayes Esports Engineering Team

Bayes Esports: what does the next five years hold for esports?

SBC News Bayes Esports: what does the next five years hold for esports?The esports space has gone through tremendous changes over the last five years, but what lies ahead in the next five? Ben ‘Noxville’ Steenhuisen (pictured, right), Senior Software Architect at Bayes Esports, looks into his crystal ball and offers his predictions as to what we can expect.

Predicting how esports will look in six months is challenging, but looking forward five years almost requires divination. Part of the problem is that esports is constantly in a state of flux – governing bodies in traditional sports spend months or even years hosting regulatory committees, voting on amendments, doing trials, and modifying the game; whereas in esports significant patches are rolled out every few weeks. So take my predictions to these open-ended topics with a pinch of salt.

The Big Three

Right now the most dominant titles in esports betting are the “Big Three”: League of Legends, CS:GO, and Dota 2. There are numerous others that have temporarily surpassed these in viewership or concurrent players – but the longevity and sustained fandom is what’s put the Big Three above them all.

More recently, the Dota professional scene has seemingly taken some steps backwards – players and fans alike have been upset with the handling of The International 2022, the surrounding Dota Professional Circuit, and the ecosystem as a whole.

Whilst many trust Valve (the publisher of Dota) to course-correct, a swathe of the current generation of fan favourite pros are retiring which, when paired with the aforementioned dissatisfaction with the current direction Dota esports seems to be headed in, could lead to unavoidable long-term dips in viewership.

Whether or not this happens remains to be seen – overall I think Dota 2 will remain as a tier one title, but it’s an indication that even gods can bleed. I suspect that the division between tier one and two might become murkier: PUBG (Mobile), Valorant, Rainbow6, Rocket League, and others have all started knocking at the door and soon we could have a Big Five.

Consolidation or dispersion?

Market consolidation on the B2B data-supply side seems like a natural long-term outcome, however there might be intermediate dynamic equilibria which delay the industry from reaching it. Customers interested in data do not want to integrate with very many providers, which ultimately means that there is only room for a few key players in the long-term (and perhaps some market disruptors in the short-tem) – and lends significantly more power to the data suppliers with more expansive offerings.

The B2C supply side (primarily bookmakers) will continue to act as-is: a free market with lingering technical and legislative barriers. Good licensing is always complicated, as is the implementation and maintenance of highly available, secure, and fast infrastructure to support gamblers.

At Bayes, one of our key goals is to reduce as many technical hurdles for our B2C customers as possible and allow them to be able to roll out new titles and markets quickly. We want them operational and using our data as fast as they can because that’s best for them and us.

By optimising both B2B and B2C, there is an opportunity for more intermediaries within the ecosystem – entities which are ingesting data and producing their own data feeds from it. An obvious example might be buying live data and producing live odds. This role greatly benefits from high quality input and industry standards to accelerate adoption.

Side markets

One of the things I’m fascinated with when looking at traditional sports markets are the myriad side markets available on every match. You can bet on yellow and red cards, corners, individual player outrights to score (a single goal, a brace, a hattrick, a touchdown), points ranges, winning margins, longest kicks, etc.

Hell, you can bet on Ireland to win but Viktor Krum to get the Snitch. When esports titles have been added in the past some initial side markets were added, however little iteration or evolution has happened since.

Since esports are operating in a purely digital world the only real limit on what can be bet on is the creativity of the bookmaker, not the underlying data.

In more recent times “micro-betting” has become a well-known catch-phrase, promoted heavily by Jake Paul and his “Betr” platform. Esports is the perfect environment for pioneering this space and is uniquely able to scale due to the granular data available.

Will Twitch remain king?

Facebook (via Facebook Gaming), Microsoft (via Mixer), and Alphabet (via YouTube Gaming) have already tried and failed to rally against the Twitch monopoly on gaming live-streaming. Whilst general streaming (including game streaming) is still possible on Facebook and on YouTube, with the deprecation of the dedicated gaming apps and the discovery process they provided – it’s clear there are no long-term prospects remaining here.

With their defeat it’s unlikely that there are other companies which are big enough to gamble on game streaming as a primary business. This really leaves few alternatives: perhaps a more generic streaming platform like TikTok is able to captivate a core gaming audience and customise/specialise their app for gaming; or perhaps Valve’s Steam.tv gains more popularity.

I feel that Twitch is too cemented in the current streaming culture for any big changes to happen in just five years. Whilst I think there might be minor competitors, their inability to gain the economies of scale available to Twitch (via Amazon) is a really big disadvantage, and only a change in technology will allow them to leapfrog Twitch.

Expanding ecosystem – what next?

In such a data-rich environment, empowering various third-party products within the esports ecosystem is an easy task. The most obvious of these are fantasy sports, a sector which has already had numerous projects operating over time.

Fantasy sports are effective as standalone products, yet they also generate significant fan engagement – bringing viewers to newer and smaller titles and tournaments and having them dive deeper into player stats to sniff out the best pound-for-pound players for their team.

Key to ecosystem expansions are open standards and conventions – a big factor in how we designed the BEDEX Live Data Messaging Model at Bayes Esports. It allows for rapid expansion from a single title to others – with shared design patterns between the titles meaning simpler integrations and more shared knowledge.

Other components within an esports ecosystem might include historic data – allowing bookmakers to run sanity checks on their odds, or look for extreme outliers.

The inventiveness of a community is almost unbounded, so making a more open system allows more people to express their ideas and execute on them with as few barriers as possible in their way.

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