If you’ve paid any attention to the gaming world during the past few years, you’ll have heard about an emerging sector called eSports. This exciting new gaming market has got everyone from aspiring video gamers to corporate brands caught up in the buzz, and isn’t likely to be calming down any time soon.
According to Statista, the global eSports market was worth just over $1.38 billion in 2022 and could well reach $2 billion in the next couple of years. It’s clear that, as a gaming sector, eSports has significant potential, but what exactly is eSports?
eSports is short for electronic sports and is essentially competitive video gaming, where gamers compete against each other in organized tournaments and leagues. We see eSports as a product of the 21st century, but the first competitive video gaming events were actually well underway during the 1970s. Of course, those tournaments and events were typically only contested on a local or national level. Here in the digital age, eSports events are global, thanks to the power of connected technologies.
Professional-level eSports events are seen as the pinnacle, but there are all manner of grassroots leagues and tournaments that hobby gamers can get involved in. Plus, now that eSports has proven to be a billion-dollar industry, it also supports a thriving business ecosystem of brands, organizations and numerous connected markets.
One of the most lucrative markets emerging alongside the rise of eSports is that of eSports betting which refers to the act of placing wagers on the outcome of competitive video game matches. This can include betting on the winner of a match or tournament, as well as more specific types of bets.
Much like betting on more traditional sports, like team events or horse racing, eSports betting can be done through various online platforms or at physical sportsbooks. Most leading online bookmakers even provide free wagering offers to new customers, as well as live betting, where wagers can be placed in real-time. Odds comparison platforms like OddsChecker can be a great resource for finding the latest offers and betting markets in eSports.
Popular eSports Games
The eSports segment is growing all the time as more and more innovative multiplayer games are released. There’s a high chance that you’ve played more than one eSports game, even if you have no intentions of pursuing a career as a pro gamer.
While many games are now classed as eSports titles, they’re not all created equal. The following is a list of the most prominent eSports games, which also feature eye-wateringly large prize pools.
League of Legends was developed by Riot Games and has a truly international player base. This multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game has one of the most thriving competitive scenes, with players battling it out for the trophy at the League of Legends World Championship. LoL is free-to-play and features a variety of characters, each with their own unique abilities.
Dota 2, or Defense of the Ancients 2, to give it its full title, was developed by Valve Corporation – the same company behind the ubiquitous Steam gaming platform. Dota 2 is another popular MOBA game with a strong competitive scene. Like LoL, Dota 2 is free-to-play, and gamers can choose from a line-up of intriguing characters. The game is known for its complex strategic elements and high skill ceiling.
Overwatch and its sequel, Overwatch 2, hail from the stable of Blizzard Entertainment. Unlike LoL or Dota2, the Overwatch series follows the first-person shooter (FPS) format and places a lot of emphasis on teamwork and utilizing character abilities.
Fortnite, developed by Epic Games, is a massively popular battle royale game that has exploded in popularity in recent years. This free-to-play game made a noise in the eSports scene in 2019 when it awarded players with record prize money (later topped by Dota 2). In addition to its thriving eSports scene, Fortnite has also helped usher in a new era of digital entertainment, thanks to its in-game concerts.
There are many different types of eSports events, from the professional level to grassroots competitions, each of which has its own unique format and set of rules. Saying that, however, most of the high-level professional eSports events fall under the category of tournaments or leagues.
Tournament events require teams or individual players to compete against each other in a bracket-style format. Tournaments follow an elimination format, where the winner is determined by a series of best-of-matches.
Leagues, on the other hand, are longer-running events where teams or players compete against each other over an extended period of time. League winners are usually the players or teams with the most points at the end of the series.