1on1- Jens Hilgers - DOJO Madness wrestles with esports data

1on1- Jens Hilgers - DOJO Madness wrestles with esports data

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 Posted by Sam Cooke
Deal with Betradar offers in-play solution

In the short history of esports, Jens Hilgers plays a pivotal role having founded the ESL and now as the driving force behind the esports data collection company DOJO Madness.

Headquartered in Berlin, the company says its mission is to help gamers improve their play. More pertinent for the gambling industry, though, is the company’s collaboration with Betradar, announced in November last year. The deal will see the companies work together on producing the data needed to power a true in-play betting offering for esports, a vital step in the evolution of betting on esports. Here Hilgers talks to TotallyGaming.com about that deal and its importance, and how vital data will be to those looking to exploit the esports betting opportunity.

Totally Gaming: What stage do you think we are at with betting on esports?

Jens Hilgers: While still in the early days, the esports legal betting market is gaining serious momentum. Esports has an estimated global wagering market of $29.8bn by 2020. It was predicted that more than $590m was to be wagered on esports competitions through cash gambling sites last year.

TG: How much do you think an understanding of the importance of data within the esports environment is for the betting operators?

JH: Esports games are much more complex than traditional sports. The strategic depths are significantly higher. Modelling that out with people who have never played esports games is impossible, and that is where DOJO comes in. Our data science team has deep game knowledge, can understand game patches, the impact they might have, and what that means for our predictive models. 

Totally Gaming: How important is the data you are collecting to any in-play betting offering?

JH: The amount of data we have is greater than what we would have in most traditional sports. There’s a greater amount of inflection points and game-making points that allow us to model outputs and feed into our algorithms. It enables us to create greater diversity on in-play odds, which is quite challenging, and that is the reason most providers only offer pre-match betting, while we do live updates while the games are running. There are no common standards to collect data, it is truly a game by game and publisher by publisher approach. We have to rely on multiple data sources for each individual game. 

Totally Gaming: How important is the relationship with Betradar to your offering?

JH: We don’t know the gambling world so we wouldn’t know the particularities of how to prioritize the product for the customer. This is where our partnership with Betradar comes in. We bring our big data expertise into the Betradar’s esports betting ecosystem which has created a fantastic opportunity for both companies

Totally Gaming: What kind of data are you collecting?

JH: Our data science team has built sophisticated models based on 18 million individual data points. This data includes single aspects of the game, from movement, to player to accuracy and performance, making it more appealing and lucrative for people to place bets. Rather than placing a bet that Team A will beat Team B, an enthusiast can now place real-time bets on a wide variety of bets like how many kills Team A will make in the next three rounds.

Totally Gaming: How much has the esports industry (and its relationship with betting operators) been affected by last year's skin-betting issues?

JH: Valve’s decision to crackdown on illegal skin gambling has shaken up the betting ecosystem. While both illegal skin betting and legal cash betting were steadily growing, at DOJO, we believe that the illegal market share now will transition to legal services, causing the eSports legal betting industry to skyrocket. 

Totally Gaming: What do you see as DOJO Madness' role as regard to training players? How do you think this interacts with the betting markets?

JH: Knowledge of best practices and strategies in game is equally as helpful when it comes to coaching and training as well as match predictions. Our core competency at DOJO is collecting and interpreting game data, our coaching apps including LOLSUMO as well as our partnership with Betradar are both prime examples of how we create real value through our data services.

Totally Gaming: Why is Berlin such a good city in which to launch an esports start-up? What does it offer a company like yours?

JH: Berlin is a hot ecosystem for gaming in general (more the 200 gaming companies are based here), and specifically it is becoming a hub for esports companies. In addition to being the chief executive of DOJO Madness, I launched the first ever esports specific Venture Capital fund, BitKraft eSports Ventures, in both Berlin and LA because both cities are epicenters for esports. Berlin is full of professional, passionate, and international esports enthusiasts. In addition to great talent, Berlin has also become a hub for esports fans. For example, Riot launched their LCS studio here and the 2015 LOL World Championship final took place at Berlin’s Mercedes Benz Arena, which sold out all 17,000 seats in under two hours.

Totally Gaming says: With the dust settling on last year’s skin betting hoo-hah, the scene appears to be set for regulated esports betting to take centre stage, and a large part of that will be the ability to offer true in-play betting. As is evident from what Hilgers says (and from the deal with Betradar) the data will be vital here and DOJO Madness seems to be as well-placed as anyone to exploit the opportunity.

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