Insight - the crossover between betting and esports
Insight - the crossover between betting and esports
Ahead of his appearance discussing the potential of esports for bookmakers at this month’s EiG conference in Berlin, Totally Gaming caught up with Moritz Maurer, head of esports at Betgenius, to discuss how the sector was already interacting with esports.
Totally Gaming: With esports arguably as diverse as traditional sports, would you say it makes sense to launch an esports portal separate from a sportsbook? Moreover would you go as far as to say each of the major titles deserve their own portal, due to the fierce loyalties of the fan community within these?
Moritz Maurer: I would not go as far as claiming that each individual eSports title needs a specific portal.
At the Betting on Sports 2016 event recently I had the opportunity to share some key findings that we have gathered together with our operators partners over the past year or so. One was that in eSports you will certainly find a segmentation of the player base when it comes to different genres, platforms. Additionally there are also clear regional and cultural preferences towards certain game titles that need to be taken into consideration when creating an eSports betting strategy.
However we have also noticed that there are crossovers between different genres in the betting preferences of eSports punters. For example, a user might engage with League of Legends (LoL) content on a regular basis but also show interest in all major CSGO competitions.
Generally, we observe that bookmakers can succeed in the eSports space in a range of ways. In my opinion there is no single right way to do it.
TG: William Hill stated recently that their current primary aim is to tempt sports bettors with esports, and will focus more on attracting esports fans down the line. Is this a tactic you agree with?
MM: As eSports growth continues and the activity as a whole transitions further into the mainstream, leveraging the crossover from other betting products to eSports is a critical angle for operators.
I believe that this is a valid strategy but must focus on the right games due to the fact that eSports titles vary wildly in complexity. This clearly affects the barriers to entry for punters who are new to the eSports space.
First-person shooter (FPS) or fighting games are in general a lot easier to understand and engage with than multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA)-type games. Furthermore, various console titles – like FIFA or Call of Duty – have already had a major exposure in the mainstream. That being said these titles might present the best entry into eSports betting but do not hold the biggest betting potential, especially when looking at in-play.
In the long-term the growing eSports audience is a betting demographic that cannot be ignored by any bookmaker.
TG: Are you expecting the upcoming LoL World Championships to be the largest regulated traditional esports betting event in history?
MM: I am certain that the LoL World Championship will be the biggest betting event in eSports we have seen so far. Besides the vast player base and record breaking viewership of LoL, there are several practical factors that support that statement.
We could compare this tournament to the Dota2 International that is definitely a heavyweight in this category as well. However while Dota2 featured a high game concurrency during the group stage, LoL Worlds Group’s will be played match-by-match, increasing the betting potential per single event significantly due to the viewers’ attention not being split. This means the in-play betting offering can be consumed by more participants.
Furthermore the LoL Worlds Championships are spread out over the course of six weeks. This allows punters to engage with the events in pre-match betting for an increased timeframe. Bookmakers are in a better position to promote their content around the competition and engagement can be driven easier than for tournaments that are played within a week or a single weekend.
Lastly I want to mention the impressive market volume that is available at various bookmakers for LoL. This puts any other game to shame at the moment but also hits the nerve for eSports punters who are experts in the game and expect a comprehensive service that revolves around in-game objectives.
We have strived to push the boundaries in this regard and we are excited for the tournament. We are looking to provide over 250 market types per event to our customers.
TG: There is surely more opportunity to attract bettors with live betting, would you say that this is across esports as a rule or certain titles?
MM: One key takeaway from our eSports operations is that in-play is where the potential lies. This is reflected in turnover and in the engagement of punters. At the moment the most developed betting titles are LoL, Dota2 and CSGO.
The MOBA games feature simply a wide range of reoccurring market types that revolve around various in-game objectives, while the round-based map format of CSGO allows punters to be at the pulse of the game by betting on every single round of a map. These market types are the drivers of the in-play experience and reflect the lighting-fast nature of the games – therefore mirroring the expectations of eSports enthusiasts who are accustomed to consuming content of that nature.
Generally speaking RTS and TBS games do not show a big potential for in-play as the progression of a single game cannot be pinpointed to specific objective and scores that tell the story of the map.
TG: 50% of EPL teams have an igaming operator as a shirt sponsor this season. Do you anticipate this ever being the case with the ESL One competitions, or The International?
MM: We are observing various eSports brands engaging with betting brands successfully already. A big factor in the opportunities here is the publisher’s stance on gambling in connection with their IP.
As the eSports landscape develops and major brands increasingly move into the space, I expect that the view on betting as an engagement factor will mature. Furthermore the public picture of betting and eSports has been tainted by the revelations around skin gambling. This malicious, unregulated influence on eSports has certainly not helped.
eSports has caught the attention of almost all major sportsbook already, so it can be assumed that sponsorships of events and teams is something we can see moving forward. However at the moment most sponsorship investments have been carried out by eSports-specific books rather than established Igaming brands.
Moritz Maurer is speaking at EiG 2016 on the Interstellar 2026 strand on the panel entitled: “The Crossection of traditional sports wagering and eSports” along with Adam Savinson, eSports Manager at Betway and Sean Carr, eSports Specialist at Dafabet.
Find out more about EiG – October 18-21 in Berlin – here.