The esports betting scene is growing at a rapid pace, but it still has a lot of room left to grow.
A 2018 report from the research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming revealed that the esports betting market will be worth $6.8 billion in 2018 and this figure is expected to grow to $13 billion by 2020, thanks to the almost 600 million people who will tune into esports by then.
If you're reading this then there is a good chance that you are considering esports betting too, so here is everything you need to know before diving in.
Essentially, esports betting gives people the ability to place bets on a video game.
People, whether they be dedicated fans of that video game or esports team or a casual viewer, are able to place bets on who they think they will win that particular match or tournament.
Sometimes, they have the opportunity to bet on how they will make that happen, including the number of kills a player got, which player was voted the MVP, which character they used and even what the final score was.
Those placing bets usually use real money in order to do, with cold, hard cash being the chosen currency of most.
But, some may also choose to use in-game items (skins are a popular choice) in order to place those bets, putting up items of varying rarities in order to get real money back or get another item in return.
Top eSports Games Played
It may come as little surprise to you that some of the biggest games in esports are games based on traditional sports.
NBA 2K is a basketball simulation game based on the real-life NBA basketball league and features near-perfect recreations of NBA players, tattoos and all.
There are millions of dedicated NBA 2K players and while they have no interest in winning a real-life championship ring, many do compete to take their virtual teams to glory instead.
Likewise, the FIFA eWorld Cup is the biggest esports tournament for FIFA, the football simulation video game. Though, unlike the real FIFA World Cup, which takes place every four years, the FIFA eWorld Cup is an annual tournament.
Many traditional sports teams have invested in esports teams, with some even hiring players to their organisations, giving these esports players their own jerseys and numbers too.
Though, with that said, there are quite a few games that have little-to-no basis in reality whatsoever!
This includes games like League of Legends, or 'LoL', which is a fantasy game where mystical minions march down lanes, accompanied by powerful champions with special abilities and powerful attacks that they use to take down enemy champions and their "tower" structures.
Dota 2 offers a similar structure, lanes and all. Even Overwatch, a game based on a futuristic version of Earth in which robots have formed an uprising, abandons reality somewhat.
Overwatch's heroes include a taking, peanut-butter-loving gorilla and a robot traffic warden with a gun (Orisa).
Best eSports Leagues And Tournaments
But whether esports' biggest games are based on simulations or entirely fictional, what they all have in common is that their leagues and tournaments are immensely popular.
League of Legends, for example, hosts several leagues and tournaments throughout the year, all organised by the game's developer Riot Games.
There are regional leagues including the EU LCS, NA LCS, LCK, LMS, and LPL, for Europe, North America, South Korea, Taipei, and China, respectively and these have spring and summer "splits" or seasons.
Additionally, there's the Mid-Season Invitational and the World Championships, which is the ultimate prize.
Overwatch doesn't have quite as many different tournaments, but that's because it's still growing. Its Overwatch League kicked off this year with 16 teams from around the world, from Shanghai to San Fransisco and many places in between.
The second season of the league is set to add several new teams as well, including organisations in Washington and Paris. Then, there's the Overwatch World Cup in which players group together by nationality to take the trophy for their country.
CS:GO and Dota 2, the two games developed by Valve, offer a much easier format to follow, with the two games hosting a series of "majors" throughout the year.
These majors, which take place all over the globe, are sponsored by Valve itself. The biggest of these, and in fact the tournament with the biggest prize pot in all of esports, is Dota 2's The International, which is the main competition for that game.
eSports To Benefit From Bookmaking?
Esports headlines about underdogs beating well-loved competitors, unlikely wins and huge prize pots all help to draw in fans to the sport. So, imagine how much of an impact these stories could have if people were encouraged to bet on them as well.
The concept of a little-known team winning something like The International would be even more of a story if someone was able to bet and win a massive amount of money on that unlikely outcome.
It could also help to encourage casual esports viewers to become more engaged viewers. Of the estimated 600 million or so people who are expected to tune into esports stream by 2021, around 300 million of them will likely be "occasional" viewers.
In other words, these viewers may not tune into streams each and every week and they may not have favourite teams or even favourite esports-related games.
But, people who bet on esports will, by their very nature, be more invested in esports because they've also invested money in it.
Esports will gain more tuned-in viewers through betting because bettors will watch to see how the games are playing out and how they may affect their winnings.
Future Of eSports Betting
Over time, esports will grow in key markets such as the United Kingdom, where esports have so far struggled to take off. More viewers equal more potential bettors and more people interested in betting, which will lead to more opportunities to bet.
Speaking of opportunities to bet, we expect to see plenty more existing and emerging games fully embracing professional competition.
Games such as Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds have growing esports scenes despite launching as recently as 2017.
Games based on traditional sports and traditional sports that have betting opportunities, such as the NHL, MLB and Tour de France, also make for solid candidates for esports betting expansion.
In fact, the New York Yankees recently got involved in esports, suggesting that we could see plenty more esports investment from traditional sports teams in the future, too.
Ultimately, esports betting is worth taking notice of now. The competition is fierce and growth is happening quickly, so get on board.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*