The esports betting sector seemed to appear almost overnight in the mid-2010s, and it has since become a hugely important part of the betting industry as a whole. But while it forms an important part of the betting industry, there is also a sense of separation. Many experienced sports bettors would not have the first clue what is meant by “map betting”, for example. And while it’s something of a generalisation, many esports bettors will not really know or care about what happens in a traditional sports game. The industries are connected, yet separate.
But going beyond the betting terminology and how an esports game plays out versus a regular sports match, there are more fundamental differences between the two sectors. We want to look at three of the main areas below, taking an approach that looks at it from a more philosophical standpoint.
Esports betting tends to be more immediate
If I was looking through a sports betting site, I could easily find odds for future events such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup to 2023 Rugby World Cup. While futures/outright betting exists and is available for big tournaments like the Call of Duty World League, those betting on upcoming e-sports competitions tend to focus on events in the coming hours and days, not weeks or months.
The idea is that you sit down to watch a few rounds on Twitch or YouTube Gaming and place your bets on the action that you are about to watch. The differences here aren’t always stark, and we could make similar assumptions for people placing bets on the Saturday 3 pm football games, but by and large, esports betting tends to focus on what is happening in the short terms, whereas traditional sports tend to have a more even approach. Live betting is, of course, popular in both sectors.
Traditional sports betting tends to be more emotional
Despite its massive popularity, e-sports remains a nascent industry. As such, we do not have the emotional connection to certain events that can colour our perceptions when betting. OpTic Gaming and FaZe clan may have a budding rivalry, but it is nothing compared to the ferociousness of soccer’s El Clásico, featuring Real Madrid and Barcelona, or tennis’ Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Because these rivalries are entrenched in culture and even politics, they tend to impact our decision-making in sports betting. As a Barcelona fan, you may think Barcelona will win against Madrid because you want them to win. This government by emotions impacts sports betting. Again, it’s not a black and white situation, and you can support an e-sports team – many of us do – but the betting side is less involved emotionally. Some might assume that gives e-sports bettors an advantage.
Esports lacks a narrative, but it will come
Continuing on from what we said about emotions above, it takes time to build sports narratives. By that, we mean the dialogue over traditions, rivalries, histories and achievements. As with emotions, sports betting can be governed by narratives – the stories around an event. It could be something like Tom Brady going for the Super Bowl after moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or Tiger Woods making a comeback in golf, or Liverpool struggling in the semi-finals.
These narratives dictate the discussion around sports betting, and e-sports lacks that somewhat. However, as esports goes more mainstream, as we begin to learn more about the men and women playing the games, and as esports builds its history, the narratives will come. And with that, the way we think about e-sports betting will change.
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