Esports betting has enjoyed a massive upsurge in activity over the past year, and this is only set to continue in 2023, as explained by leading operator Rivalry.
One of the most dominant figures in esports betting from its headquarters in Canada, Rivalry has published a report into esports betting trends over the past year, which it hopes will shine a light on the sector to the rest of the industry.
The firm’s CEO, Steven Salz, explained: “Where we see momentum and betting activity, it often translates into enhanced economics and overall viewership growth for that esport.
“For that reason, we believe this information will be helpful not jst to the betting industry, but the esports community more broadly.”
Unsurprisingly, Rivalry found that League of Legends was the most wagered upon esports competition in 2022, with the game having long-established itself as the most popular market for punters.
Following this were CS:GO and Dota 2, which have both enjoyed a strong degree of popularity for some time, with Valorant and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang coming fourth and fifth place.
For the top three titles, the Canadian esportsbook explained that LoL, CS:GO and Dota 2 accounted for 90% of all betting activity over the past 12 months.
In the case of the Valorant, however, Rivalry noted that this is one to look out for, describing Riot Games’ first person shooter as an emerging ‘serious betting contender’.
“The growth of Valorant has been unlike any other title we have seen since our launch in 2018,” Rivalry’s report continued. “Predicting the longevity of a new esports IP is tough, with many games coming and going over the years.
“Ultimately, the publishers are bumpers on the bowling alley, and it’s the community that will determine if it wins or loses. But, being a betting company, our bet is Voralant is here to stay”.
Looking ahead to 2023, Rivalry makes three key predictions – firstly, that the aforementioned Valorant will continue to rise in popularity; secondly, that mobile games will continue to gain traction; and thirdly, that game publishers will further embrace relegated betting.
On the latter point, the report explained: “The benefits of responsible unregulated sports betting is tough to ignore. When you look at leagues like the NFL, MLB and NBA, who have courted betting, sponsorships, increased viewership, media rights deals, and most importantly, fan engagement, since its legalisation in 2018.
“Prices for professional sports teams are soaring too, with Forbes noting the world’s 50 most valuable sports teams are worth 30% more than they were a year ago.
“In the larger industry, where games are free to play and publishers now make a majority of their revenue from in game transactions. Engagement is a new benchmark for success. This shift has placed an important focus on esports as a key driver of the engagement publishers need to monetise their games by incentivising playership and creating awareness of their IP.”
Continuing its review of 2022, on consumer preferences there were some regional disparities highlighted in Rivalry’s report also. The firm found that in Australia and Canada, its two most important markets, CS:GO is the dominant product.
The FPS game was also the leading title in the rest of the world, but LoL was propped up by its popularity in Latin America – where it represents 60% of esports betting volume – and Southeast Asian esports enthusiasts are clearly big followers of Dota 2.
Canada and Australia and non-Latin American markets, Rivalry maintained, are ‘crazy about League of Legends’.
Overall, the three most bet on tournaments globally were the League of Legends Pro-League, Campenato Brasilieiro de League of Legends and League of Legends Championship Korea.
Additionally, esports punters are also predominantly fans of live wagering, the firm found, with 62% of customers betting in play as opposed to 38% preferring pre-match.
Lastly, for those interested in cross-selling between esports and traditional sports, Rivalry presented its findings on which of the latter are most popular among esportsbook bettors.
Over 50% of the firm’s own esports customers also bet on traditional sports, with basketball the most popular, followed closely by football and American football – in a recent interview with SBC News, Salz noted that product diversification between esports and traditional sports is a key element of success for businesses in the sector.
Keep an eye on the SBC Newsletter for part two of our interview with Steven Salz