Insight: Understand e-sports if you want to shoot for success

Insight: Understand e-sports if you want to shoot for success

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 Totally Gaming
Fnatic CEO Wouter Sleijffers has been enthused by Dafabet's approach to e-sports

E-sports will undoubtedly be one of hot topics at ICE Totally Gaming, with the sector having become a key focus of the gambling industry in the last year.

Not too long ago, the likes of 'Counter Strike' and 'League of Legends' may have been considered of interest only to teenagers in bedrooms, but the growth of the concept of e-sports is now impossible to ignore. A survey by Newzoo last year predicted that by 2017 the sector would be worth $465m (€429.5m) and have as many followers as the NFL.

So, it is that the gambling sector has taken note, with betting operators offering markets on competitions, streaming live games and entering sponsorship and marketing deals.

However, Wouter Sleijffers, chief executive of Fnatic, the successful e-sports organisation, told TotallyGaming.com that only those gambling operators that truly understand the market, its players and fans will benefit from this new and expanding sector.

“I'd say that e-sports consumers want betting operators to re-invent betting as much as e-sports has re-invented competitive sports in the digital age,” said Sleijffers, who will discuss the growth of e-sports at ICE Totally Gaming in February. “It therefore needs a good level of understanding and not be seen as just another market. After all, e-sports is an aggregation of game titles that each have different game objectives, mechanics, star players and also a different audience."
 
Fnatic, which has six professional teams, last year became the first e-sports organisation to sign a sponsorship deal with a betting operator, Dafabet. Sleijffers believes that Fnatic’s partner has so far led the way in its development of e-sports.

“We see in Dafabet a great partner since we know they have so many e-sports enthusiasts and Fnatic fans in their talented staff, even before we entered into our partnership," Sleijffers said. “The gambling industry’s interest in e-sports has not surprised me as they can see so many great opportunities.

“First of all, it's a new market with a sizeable customer base that can attract a new audience. In addition, since e-sports provides for a great bunch of 'real-time big data', it provides opportunities to create new and innovative odds.

“As most e-sports matches are mostly broadcast online, it also provides further opportunities for engagement during the matches.”

Sleijffers will appear at the Betmarkets conference at ICE Totally Gaming in a session titled ‘A new target audience generating their own content’.

Sleijffers, formerly an executive at payment provider Skrill, is interested in exploring the potential for synergy between e-sports and the gambling industry ahead of what promises to be another year of exponential growth.

“I am interested to see what e-sports can contribute into new innovations in betting, attracting new and existing customers,” he said. “Secondly, I would like to see what e-sports can learn from the existing sports and betting models, and how further regulation should develop in e-sports. 

”2015 was a major year for e-sports, with viewers and spectators growing by many tens of millions. However, it's 2016 that will see some landmark developments for e-sports and what the ICE attendees interested in e-sports should be looking out for.”

* ICE Totally Gaming takes place at London's ExCel Centre from February 2-4. For updates on ICE 2016 and to register for tickets, visit: www.icetotallygaming.com

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