What are eSports?
eSports, also known as electronic sports, competitive video-gaming or pro gaming is a form of sports based around, as you might have already guessed, playing video-games competitively. This is one of the newer forms of gambling which has only really taken off in popularity in the last decade or so. This is due to many reasons, though it has been mainly aided by the proliferation and speed of modern internet and internet devices. Confused? Well the simple way of looking at it is this: eSports are video-games which, unlike pokies, were not created for the sake of gambling, but they are games in which the outcomes can still be gambled on.
They allow betting on this?
Much like anything considered a sport, yes, you can bet on it. Of course this type of sport doesn't yet have anything approaching the legacy of the like of rugby or football, so betting on it isn't as widespread, but it is there and it is growing. As is common with growing gambling markets it can be a bit tricky to find places willing to take bets on eSports, but they do exist, and we can help you find them and the eSport which is right for you.
How is this different from regular sports?
The first and most obvious difference between eSports and what most people thing of as sports is that video-games are not inherently a very physical experience. This means that just like with chess or card based games many die-hards would be unwilling to label such activities as sports.
We also have the environment in which eSports are played competitively. Most sports will require some sort of playing field, whereas this only really requires a computer, a network connection and a copy of the chosen game. While larger tournaments don't strictly require a large playing area the popularity of these games as well as the money involved leads to situations where entire stadiums are used as hosts. That's right – some of these eSports can routinely pull in crowds of thousands.
One of the most fundamental differences between eSports and regular sports is the constantly changing nature of electronic games. If you look at a sport such as football you can see the rules are largely static. These games and the rules within have often been settled decades ago, with only minor changes arising through the recent years. Electronic games are, in this regard, very different. While there are some games, such as Starcraft, which have been popular for decades, many of the most popular eSports games are those newer games which are less than a decade old. A key component of this is also what we call patches.
Patching and Balance
As the name suggests patches are additions which are made to games to fix holes or errors which might creep in. In reality it is often much more involved than that, as it brings up the issue of balance.
In regular sports it is common for both teams to play with the exact same set of rules. This means that the game remains as fair as it can possibly be. In electronic sports there is a key difference in that the different teams can often be composed of very different setups, with their behaviours sometimes being entirely different. There is a problem here in that the aim of the game, at least these professionally made competitive games, is to make each character roughly the same strength.
Take a fighting game for example. In a game like this there might be 20 different characters which a player can choose from. While some of these characters will excel in areas where others do not, and some will have better match-ups versus specific opponents than others, the general idea is that the developers want these characters to be roughly the same strength. The issue here is that when it comes to video-games the creators often make mistakes, or the players discover tactics which manage to circumvent or break the way the game was meant to be played. As with game errors these differences can be patched.
What does this mean?
What this means for both the competitors and the gamblers is that what is unstoppable one week might not be feasible at all for the next. This also means that the players themselves often go through cycles where their chosen character(s) or team jump from great to terrible, or vice versa.
A perfect example of this is the above character, Nash, from the divisive fighting game Street Fight 5. In the first season, which is the first year of this game, a very skilled player going by the name Infiltration discovered something which the developers were not aware of. Due to the slight lag which is built into the game, as well as the odd animation of Nash's forward dash, Infiltration was able to use this character to close the gap towards the enemy far faster than anyone was prepared for, and far faster than the developers expected. This meant that for the first year Infiltration was one of the most dominant players in the game.
The following year the game received its ‘2.0 patch', where his dash was fixed and put back to how it was originally envisioned. This change meant that Infiltration suffered with the character he was most familiar with. In fact a great many Nash players were forced to completely learn a new character because the work they had put into the game no longer meant much at all.
In terms of betting the result for this is similar to what you see in gambling for regular sports – those who are most successful are those who know and understand the game. When it comes to electronic sports knowledge of the changing nature of the game is of equal or greater importance.
How is this similar to regular sports?
While the methods in these games vary wildly the goal tends to be the same as in most sports – beat the opponent. Whether this means beating them with cards, taking out their mother base or defeating them in a certain set of matches changes depending on the type of game which is being played. Much like with the difference in regular sports, eSports have an enormous amount of variety. While the multitude of games on offer might not be a fit for everyone they do have enough to cater to the enjoyment of many. Check around, you might be as surprised as some of us were to find many of these quite enjoyable to watch.
Just as with regular sports, eSports has not been without its issues. Match fixing and poor behaviour aren't an especially uncommon sight in this world, though efforts are being made with the evolution of these sports to target and repair these problems.
Also like with regular sports there are a lot of different bets which can be placed on these games. Exactly which sort of bet you can place depends on exactly which type of game is being played, and how it has developed competitively.
What games are popular for eSport bets?
What's that old saying, if you can play it you can gamble on it? That might not be correct, but the sentiment is the same. While most games will offer bets at some point or another there is a definite set which is more commonly used in eSports than others.
To look at these we will separate them into genres, with each section giving a little bit of a background on what the genre is, and what the viewers and players can expect.
Real Time Strategy (RTS)
These are the games which, alongside early FPS games, brought competitive gaming to the mass market.
In these games each player acts as what is best thought of as a commander. At the start of these games the players traditionally start with only a few weak units to control and a mother base, which can spawn basic units for a cost. It is the duty of many of these base units to harvest resources which can then be spent on additional units as well as buildings, which can also unlock other units.
Speaking of upgrades – they are a huge factor in most RTS games. As the player gains more resources they can spend these on more powerful units, or they can often research certain technologies which can upgrade the units they have, or afford a multitude of other bonuses. The longer the game progresses the stronger the players bases and unit become, as they add defences, upgrades and additional units. This all builds to a confrontation where it is the goal of each player to destroy the mother base of the other. The one who does this first is the winner of the game.
These stand out from the more popular MOBA games of today by the share amount of actions that a player must take. Whereas in MOBA games the player only has control over a single unit, in RTS games each player can be in direct command of dozens, even up to well over a hundred, at the same time. This means a constant juggling between different units, assigning groups, queuing actions, setting formations, upgrading, base building, attacking and defending. It is because of this that these games are slightly more impenetrable than their MOBA cousins, which might explain their waning in popularity over the last decade.
The sequel to the grand-daddy of competitive RTS games, which I guess makes this the great-grand-daddy, or perhaps just the father? Pointless semantics aside, Starcraft 2, from Blizzard Entertainment, is the biggest name in RTS games at the moment.
The game itself is much of a simple modern update of the original Starcraft, and that is by no means a bad thing. There are three races which players can choose from: the Terrans, the Protoss and the Zerg.
The Terrans are human, far removed from Earth and forced into a desperate fight for survival. Just like humans they have a wide range of political problems, and tend to solve these problems with the use of gun. These guys rely on long range weaponry to hold off and destroy their opponents.
The Protoss are a advanced race of aliens who use their superior technology and psionic abilities to deal with those who would oppose them. These guys thought they were hot shit for a long time, until the Zerg came along and showed them that quantity is a pretty decent counter to quality.
The Zerg are a collection of what might most easily be described as enormous, advanced and very angry space-bugs. These guys overcome their opponents through shear numbers, often finding their victory with the much famed Zerg Rush.
Despite being over 7 years old at this point Starcraft still holds up very, and doesn't seem at all to be giving up its place of King of RTS. With the recently announced remaster of Starcraft 1 coming later in 2017 this might not remain the case…
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games, also known as ARTS (Action Real-Time Strategy) are a genre which is based around a team of around 5 players, each controlling one specific character. This is one of, or the most, popular type of eSports game currently active. The largest prize-pool for these types of games can exceed $20 million. Certainly not bad.
Just like what happened with Counter Strike, which we will touch on in our FPS segment, MOBA games reached peak popularity because of what is called a mod. A mod, or modification, is a term given to a project which changes the way a game is played. These can be as minor as a the changing of a single colour or menu option to as drastic as a complete game overhaul. The first major MOBA, Defence of the Ancients (DOTA) was one such mod. Since that time this has become one of the most popular forms of video-games, both in terms of eSports and regular play.
Like first person shooters these games are almost always played on computers. This is because playing them well requires a huge amount of calculated button presses. As a keyboard and mouse are both faster and more accurate than controllers they are the go-to here.
Above is a fairly standard example of the type of map on which MOBA games are played.
Not shown on the map are the other smaller computer controlled monsters, commonly called mobs, which can appear in two ways. Firstly there are stronger monsters which hang around various parts of the map. These monsters often give higher rewards and bonuses for being defeated, though they are too strong for players to fight at the start of the game. The second set of monsters start, or spawn, from the corner home-base of each team. These monsters split up, as they take one of the coloured paths to the opposing teams mother-base.
On the way there the mobs will face players from the other team, mobs from the other team, and towers which sit at certain parts of the map. These towers put out high damage, but can only hit one target at a time. Unlike the mobs, which will keep spawning in waves until the game is complete, towers remain broken once defeated.
The general rules around these games revolve around two teams of five, each starting in opposing corners. These five characters on each team are chosen from a roster of dozens. Each player aims to choose a character which works well for them, supports the rest of their team and allows them to counter what characters they think the opposite players will employ.
At the start it is standard for the team to split up. Two teams of two take either side lane and one takes the centre. They travel down these lanes with the ultimate goal of destroying their opponents home-base building. On the way there the character will have to fight the enemy players, mobs and the towers which line the lanes.
To make this easier the players gain currency and levels while they play. The currency can be used to purchase gear, whereas the levels increase a character's general strength and give access to new abilities.
For these examples we will look at three of the largest and most popular MOBAs being played today.
The most popular and populated game on the MOBA list. This is a direct sequel to the game which largely created the genre, DOTA 1.
DOTA 2 boasts a roster of 113 playable characters and some of the largest prize-pools in the business. This is on top of the F2P game model.
This is one of the more new user friendly games. At least this is as far as MOBA games go, as they tend to require a lot of learning. Thankfully finding tutorials isn't difficult, given the popularity of the game. At the time of writing this article the game averages around 400,000 players at any given time. This means you'll never have to wait long for a game, if you decide to get in on the action.
This game is owned and operated by the folks over at Valve. These are the people who own the Steam software service, who are also responsible for the Half-Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead series.
League of Legends
Number two in the MOBA popularity game. League of Legends (LoL) has a playable roster of 134 characters. Unlike in DOTA these characters are not all unlocked when the game is downloaded. Instead there are a few characters given to everyone. The additional characters need to be purchased. These can be purchased with either real money or the currency gathered by playing games.
Like DOTA 2 this game runs a F2P model. Wondering how these game can survive when they don't charge for the base game? Well, in 2016 the game earned over $700 Million. Not bad, not bad at all.
Heroes of the Storm
The final of the big three comes from Blizzard Entertainment. These are the men and women who created Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft, Hearthstone and Overwatch. Unlike the other MOBA games available the characters in this game come from other properties. This includes selections from Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft and Overwatch. With a total of 68 characters the roster is smaller than the others, though the characters more familiar.
This is another game which operates on the F2P model. Like with LoL there are certain amount of free characters to choose from. Additional characters must be purchased with in-game or real currency.
If you've payed any attention to video-games over the last 3 decades you probably already know this genre. These are games where the match-up is one player versus one player. Commonly these games are split into one on one fighters and team matches. The goals of these game is quite simple: deplete the opponents life bar(s).
Unlike with MOBAs or FPSs these games can be played quite well on consoles. While many traditional players stick to custom arcade pads to control this game they are not required. In fact the winner of the SF5 Capcom Cup in 2016 did so on a regular controller. There have even been cases of people playing with outdated Playstation 1 controllers beating those on arcade pads, so don't buy into the hype that arcade sticks are necessary.
One on One
One on one games work just as they sound. One person chooses one character, the other chooses a character, and they fight. While it is entirely possible, in most games, to switch character between matches it isn't as common as the uninitiated might think. Getting to play on a professional level required an enormous amount of practice with a single character. Because of this the players often have one ‘main', with other sub character being learned to lesser degree. This is often seen as necessary because of the concept of match-ups. The idea here is similar to rock-paper-scissors. Character 1 has an advantage over character 2 while character 2 has an advantage over character 3. Character 3 has an advantage over character 1. This is not to say that in this scenario it would be impossible for character 2 to beat character 1, it would just be more difficult.
Team fighting games commonly consist of 3-on-3 fights. With these games the players each select 3 fighters to enter the game. During this game the player can switch out between these characters. Once all of the health-bars of all of one team are depleted the other player wins. There is huge opportunity for diversity and strategy here when it comes to team make-up. Some players will want to go for long-range characters protected by short-range high defence characters. Other might choose rush-down characters and teams to overwhelm the opponents.
Street Fighter 5
The latest in one of the oldest and most popular fighting games series to exist. Street Fighter 5 is considered by many professional players, and regular players alike, to be, well, not very good. This is a game which has been developed for eSports. This means it is a lot of fun to watch, but playing it comes down to luck far more often than it should. Patching in a seemingly random way, as well as releasing the game in what was effectively a beta state, combined with a small roster, most of which are locked behind a paywall in an already full-priced game means that this is a game which, while still popular competitively (mostly due to the prize-pools), is widely regarded as a disappointing effort.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3
A team fighter with characters from both Capcom games and Marvel games included. Ever wonder how a match-up of Spiderman, Chun-li and Rocket Raccoon would do versus Wolverine, Ryu and the Hulk? Well, now you can play it out for yourself.
This is one of the more difficult games to follow for unfamiliar players. This is largely due to the flashy nature of the game. Colours explode all over the place, attacks take up large chunks of the screen and characters constantly jump in and out of combat. As usual this is a game which is a lot easier to appreciate, and gamble on, if you've played it first.
While there is a new entry in this series, MvC: Ultimate, coming out soon, indications are that Capcom has pulled a Capcom with that game, as they did with Street Fighter 5.
Super Smash Bros.
This one is about as divisive as you get with video-games. Many players don't consider this to be a real fighting game. Heck, the creator of the series himself has pushed to make the game more casual and less competitive. Despite this the game is still one of the longest lasting and most popular ‘fighting' series available.
In general this game could be called a mascot fighter, like Marvel Vs Capcom. In the Smash games players choose single characters from a roster consisting of many Nintendo and other video-game characters. This means you can have Sonic, Mario, Link and Solid Snake all fighting each-other at the same time.
There are a couple of main differences between the way this is played and how most fighting games operate.
The first is that in Smash the players knock the opponents of the level to win. This is accomplished by simply hitting them. Each hit will build up a percentage bar. The higher that this bar goes the more knock-back is generated for each attack. Once a character is knocked off the stage they are reset and placed back on the stage.
The second way is that Smash requires a lot of options to be switched off in order to make it competitive. This means 2 players, rather than 4, none of the items which regularly spawn around in normal play, and only certain stage are allowed.
First Person Shooters (FPS)
First person shooters are some of the easiest to understand from the name alone. The player controls a character in first person view. This character shoots. If you've ever seen Doom or Quake you have a general idea of what is going on.
Originally these games were played 1 vs 1, but recently team games have replaced this. While there are many tournaments held for these game on consoles they tend towards being played on computers. This is because, again, the mouse any keyboard is faster and more accurate than a controller can be. This is obviously not the case for games which are only released on console, such as the Halos.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The sequel to a mod which completely changed the gaming world. In this game a team of terrorist set about an objective. At the same time an opposing team of counter-terrorists do their best to stop them.
The objectives tend to centre around one of two things. The first is the planting and detonation of a bomb by the terrorists. The second is the rescue of hostages by the counter-terrorists. In both types the opposite team does their best to stop the other team.
At the beginning of a match the players are able to purchase weapons and equipment. These range from shields to guns and grenades. The more rounds are played the more money both team gets, so the more deadly they become. Of all the first person games being played competitively this is the most popular. Following this in popularity is the regular Counter-Strike. As this is so similar we won't cover it, instead we'll move on to…
The newest FPS sensation from the team which brought us Diablo, Hearthstone, Warcraft and Starcraft.
In this team-based hero shooter two teams of 6 work together to complete various objectives. These range from holding a position to pushing a cart, or capturing a flag and returning it to base.
This game is notable in that it includes the type of hero system you often see in MOBAs. Each character in this game is unique, and brings their individual abilities to the table. While this generally revolves around the holy trinity this is not always the case.
Victory in Overwatch comes down to map awareness, team composition and, obviously, player skill.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Another series which many non-gamers would already have heard of. Call of Duty (CoD) games are some of the most popular FPS games, and we can see a fine example of that here.
As with the other FPS games on this list the players are set on two teams. As with the other CoD games the players can customise much of the gear, or loadout, as they head into the game.
There is a lot of variety when it comes to game modes on offer by competitive CoD Black Ops 3. From the standard team death-match to search and destroy – there is much to choose from.
While there are certainly established and popular genres there are also a few genres which only have one huge and visible game which is played competitively.
The third game on this list from Blizzard Entertainment.
This game takes its name and inspiration from the Warcraft series. Hearthstone is, simply put, a competitive card game. In this game the player builds their own deck based off a specific theme. Once in game the players take turns placing their monsters and doing their best to use their monsters and magic to attack the opponents life points. The further in the game the players get the more energy they are awarded at the start of their turns, which enables them to slowly use more movies and more powerful cards.
This is a free to play game which is also available on mobile devices. If the following looks like it might be up your alley:
Then download it and give it a go. Learning the game is quite simple, and it's a lot of fun.
Where can I gamble on eSports?
Most gambling websites do not offer all that much when it comes to betting on real sports, whether regular or electronic. Because of the difficultly of acquiring licenses and working out the logistic issues only a few of the largest websites, or some of the smaller but directly targeted, offer gambling on eSports. That said we have some reviews on a few of the best casino's which offer eSport bets. Check out reviews below to find the one which is the right fit for you!
Also called ‘triple A'. This is the term given to the largest games which have most money put into them. Major releases from EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda, etc, will generally fall into this camp.
A common cheating program in FPS games. Aimbot programs insert themselves into the game so that the player using it either only needs to aim slightly, or not at all. When active the players aim might automatically snap to the head of another, granting guaranteed huge damage.
Artifical Intelligence (AI)
The programming given to NPCs and the game which allows them to act in a way which simulates real player behaviour and actions. A difficult thing to create, and something which is often exploited.
A state of a game which is still being bugtested. This is the form which games take before they are considered good enough for launch. Recently it has been increasingly common to release full-priced AAA games in what many people consider to be beta states, such as Street Fighter 5.
This is a beneficial effect given to a player.
A skill common to many FPS games. Generally the idea is that by jumping at the right time, commonly including other movement aspects, the player is able to maintain or gain speed in excess of which could regularly be achieved. For example in Half-Life the maximum run speed could be 15 units a second (just an example). Bunny hopping in such a game could raise this maximum move speed to 200 units a second. Often very tricky to pull off, especially in a competitive environment.
The act of sticking in one particular advantageous spot and waiting for the enemies to come to you. Generally held in poor regard, as players who stick to this method slow down the entire game, which can end in a gridlock if multiple players decide to camp.
A method of winning which takes advantage of a flaw in the game.
The character type which a player has chosen. These types fit specific roles, often falling somewhere in the holy trinity.
The time after an ability is used which determines when it next becomes active. For example a move with a 1 minute cooldown could not be used again until a minute has passed.
An oddity which allows the player to reach a higher than normal. Achieved by crouching after the player has jumped, pulling their legs up so they can land on a platform.
A type of game mode where the objective is to kill the enemy players more than they kill you.
Stands for Damage Per Second. This is a simple way of saying these are the characters focused on dealing out damage.
An unofficial and unexpected method of achieving an end. Bunny hopping is a common form of exploit. Oddly enough these can be adopted into later games officially, if they prove enjoyable.
Free to play. The term given to games which do not have to be purchased to play. These games use avenues to gather revenue. Commonly this comes in the form of cosmetic changes. These are costumes or other changes which do not actually give an advantage, but allow the player to bring some of their own attitude into the game.
Sticking in an area and repeating an action, killing, harvesting, etc, which will slowly increase the strength or resources of a player or team. Also called grinding.
Field of View
The area in which a player has vision within a game. Generally this is supposed to appear similar to the field of view a human has.
Fog of War
The effect in RTS and MOBA games where the players cannot see certain areas. These areas are hidden behind this ‘fog' and are only revealed either once they have been visited or when a unity is currently standing in that location.
This one has two major meanings in modern gaming. The first is First Person Shooter – a game set from the first person perspective where shooting is the main aim.
It can also stand for Frames Per Second, which indicates how many static images appear on screen per second to give the impression of movement. The higher the frame-rate the better the game feels and the better it plays, in almost all scenarios. 60 FPS is seen as the standard minimum for competitive gaming.
Another word used for a point gained by a kill.
To kill another player in unfair circumstances. For example a ganker might be a twink who hangs around low level areas and fights new players.
Someone who takes it upon themselves to ruin the game for other players.
Character whose role is primarily to heal other characters
The term given to the three main class components of many games. This includes the healer, the tank and the dps.
The result of getting defeating multiple opponents in quick succession. This can result in different effects, depending on the game. Some might give higher resource payouts, and others can unlock certain single use abilities – such as the helicopter or nukes in Call of Duty.
The delay experienced between players on a network or server. This is an inevitable result of playing games over vast distances. The further the players are from each-other the long the signal will take. This is why online games tend to be separated into regions, at least when it comes to games which rely on quick reactions.
The primary character used by a player
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game. A game where hundreds or thousands of people can play together on a single server. Think World of Warcraft or Everquest.
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
Also called Newb, Nub, N00b, etc. A new player who does not know or understand much of the game.
Non-player character. Exactly as it sounds, a character inside of a game which is not controlled by a human.
Player vs. Player, aka the standard for most online competitive gaming. The alternative to this is PvE, or player vs. environment where the fights are against the computer controlled opponents.
The act of quickly closing the gap to prevent the opponent from getting their plan started
A sport where players compete to see who can complete various games, with various rules, in the shortest amount of time. Generally not played live, as gaining world records can take many thousands of attempts. The main exclusion to this is with Games Done Quick, which takes place multiple times a year, and shows off various speed runs and speed running tricks while gathering donations from online spectators.
A digital game marketplace with many additional features. Owned by Valve, who used to make games but now make money, this is the most popular online distribution system currently available. Despite being the stick against which all others are measured the system itself can be quite faulty. Many bugs in this software have existed for years without being addressed.
A character whose main purpose is to take draw attacks from the other team. As tanks tend to have higher defence and health than regular units they can survive more than most. Supported by the healer.
A low level character who has been designed by the player to fight out of their league. This is commonly accomplished by using gear far superior to the gear a player would have at a certain level, and then never levelling again. Used to give the player a huge edge over others in the same level range.
A hack as common as the Aimbots. This hack allows the cheaters using it to see players through walls, giving them an enormous advantage.
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