We can all agree that esports is one of the hottest gaming, and now iGaming, trends of our times.
What began as a niche community competing against each other in virtual competitions has grown to be a global phenomenon, capturing the hearts and minds of millions of fans worldwide. This growth has not gone unnoticed by the sports betting industry. Yet many operators, especially those used to a more traditional sports betting approach, are struggling with their esports betting services.
We decided to give Ondrej Šilhavý, a Senior Sales Manager at top Berlin-based Bayes Esports, a platform to explain and advise how operators can crack the esports code — and keep the buzz alive, often as they transition from traditional sports betting models to cutting-edge esports.
With a background in esports betting startups and corporate business development, as well as, crucially, being a long-time esports fan himself, Ondrej is a master at working with–and mining–data for official live distribution with partners such as Riot Games, EFG, Blast Premiere and Beyond The Summit.
If you’re facing a lack of success in your esports offering don’t attribute it to a lack of betting interest or betting capabilities of esports fans, but rather to uninspired esports betting offerings that fail at maximising the betting experience of esports bettors and keeping them engaged.
For betting operators to find success in esports, it is imperative for them to understand the differences between traditional sports fans and esports fans and what they need to be able to offer as part of their esports betting services to accommodate these differences.
Let’s dive deeper into the fan culture in esports, dissect what sets esports fans apart from traditional sports fans and highlight some of the options betting operators have to make their esports offering more exciting.
It’s all about the game
Esports spectators are much more than just fans, they are more than likely also players. The vast majority of fans of a particular game title in esports have sunk hundreds, at times even thousands of hours into playing the game themselves. For these players, esports is often just as much about entertainment as it is a learning experience. Watching the best of the best allows them to pick up on nuances that give them an edge the next time they play themselves. For example, playable characters in League of Legends, “Champions”, as they are called, often see a massive spike in popularity amongst the more casual levels of play once they are played by the professionals.
Furthermore, while esports fans tend to have a favourite team to root for, the fan culture surrounding individual teams and players is not nearly as established (yet) as is the case in football, for example. Instead of cheering for only one team, esports fans tend to follow the esports scene surrounding their favourite title much more closely than is customary for fans of traditional sports. The attention of esports fans lies on the game itself, not purely on the performance of a singular team.
For betting operators looking to offer esports betting services, these two characteristics of typical esports fans mean the target group they are trying to reach is much attentive to what happens in any given game and the path a team took to be victorious than the average fan of traditional sports.
Whereas many traditional sports bettors might be satisfied in being able to bet on a positive outcome of their favourite teams next match week after week, esports fans rather want to be able to challenge their knowledge of the game by placing bets on what they believe is going to happen next. They need live and up to date content to remain engaged. Let’s look at some of the options available to betting operators that can accomplish just that.
And how you play it
First and foremost, micro markets are key for the success of esports betting offerings. Betting markets, such as who scores the next kill or which team will take the next objective, give esports fans a great opportunity to challenge their knowledge of the game by looking ahead into the near future. Depending on the state of the game or the preferred playing style of a particular team, a bettor might want to make a different decision on who to bet on. For bettors, the bet itself becomes much less about the monetary value it carries, and much more about being right. It represents a challenge issued to the bettor on whether or not their assessment of the game is correct. The more agile these micro markets are and the more regularly they are updated, the more interesting these challenges are to the bettors.
Such agility requires the esports betting services to be based on the fastest and most reliable data available. As a result, high-quality and regularly updated micro markets that still result in profitable margins for the betting operators can only ever be sustained with official data.
Betting operators wanting to go the extra mile and maximise the betting experience of their esports bettors should also look towards offering in-depth statistics and data visualizations as an additional service. 2D player heatmaps, player statistics that are not shown on stream and historic team data can help bettors in making informed decisions. Such information can be integrated easily into an esports betting offering via such tools as the Shadow Esports Live Data Visualizations Widget or the Shadow Esports Live Ticker. These tools are powered by the leading source for official esports live data, Bayes Esports, and inform users about the most recent results in esports, as well as granting them access to live updated insights that allow them to dive deeper into the world of esports.
Last, but certainly not least, betting operators may also look towards offering more innovative betting solutions that bring the competitive nature of esports to betting. Fantasy leagues are a great avenue for betting operators looking to venture into esports to explore, as they allow esports fans to test their knowledge of the esports-title they follow over the course of an entire season. Presenting them with the challenge of building a team of professional players with the budget they were given, giving them the opportunity to adjust their lineups ahead of every matchday, and making them compete against one another in order to crown a champion, can be a fantastic way for betting operators to ensure their esports bettors stay engaged for a long period of time.
While such leagues are still rarely seen in esports, the data offerings required for them to be created and engaging do exist. The Fantasy & Stats API offered by Bayes Esports allows betting operators to gain access to all the data they need to offer their bettors an exciting fantasy experience.
For esports betting to be successful, betting operators must be able to offer their bettors solutions that actively challenge their knowledge of the game and that move as fast as the games themselves. Supporting such solutions with detailed statistics that are otherwise inaccessible to the average viewer can keep fans engaged and maximise their betting experience. For these solutions to be successful, betting operators need to be willing to change their approach to esports betting, understand the differences between esports and traditional sports, and base their services on official live data. Challenges Bayes Esports is more than happy to help operators with.