Esports has emerged as the newest sporting rave of the 21st century. An activity whose naysayers are convinced doesn’t even qualify as a sport, competitive video gaming competitions (or esports) have, over the past couple of years, continued to break attendance, viewership, and revenue records across the board.
Simply put, esports consists of organized video game competitions and tournaments where players compete as individuals or teams to win prizes and boost their rankings.
Esports is now a prominent part of the gaming industry, with the best competitions garnering large sponsorships from brands in niches such as sports, fitness, video games, and lifestyle.
Historical Perspective of Esports
Compared to other money-making sub-sectors of the entertainment industry, Esports has a relatively recent history.
The earliest occurrence of a video game competition on record happened in 1972. A group of Stanford University students organized an “Intergalactic spacewar olympics”. The video game in question was spacewar and the winner got a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.
The earliest large-scale gaming competition is likely Atari’s first Space Invaders Championship in 1980. The competition had more than ten thousand gamers attend. An early predecessor of modern day esports, it set the precedent for modern, multi-million-dollar tournaments as we know them today.
1991’s Street Fighter II brought to the mainstream the concept of in-person, tournament-style competition between players. Although participants were limited to two at a time, this new innovation managed to mitigate the need for high scores as a metric for judging the better player.
Riding on the coattails of this innovation in direct gaming competition, the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) tournament was set up in 1996.
Esports in The Modern Era
South Korea has been pivotal in influencing the growth of modern esports. Many actually link high unemployment caused by 1997’s Asian Economic Crisis as a cause for increased interest in competitive gaming, as this offered a fun distraction.
In 2006, the formation of the G7 teams marked a pivotal moment in the history of team-based esports. This group comprised of the seven best Counter-Strike teams at the time.
From 2010-2018, the popularity of esports initially approached and finally achieved worldwide popularity. During this time, viewership numbers on competitions increased tremendously, with prizes on each competition going the same route as well. To boot, from just 10 major tournaments in the world of esports in 2000, that number has ballooned to over 300.
Playing video games professionally has never been as profitable as it is right now. Some of the largest esports tournaments in the world right now have a prize pool in the million-dollar range. A few of the most lucrative esports tournaments to date include:
- The International 2019 ($34m in total prize money)
- Fortnite World Cup Finals 2019 ($15m in total prize money)
- LoL 2018 World Championship ($6.5m in total prize money)
- Call of Duty League Championship ($5m in total prize money)
As a result of the amounts available to be won as well as the soaring popularity of the sport in general, many skilled gamers are taking their talents to organized leagues and brand-name teams.
The world of esports cuts across many video game genres, but perhaps the most popular genres, by most metrics, are multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, first-person shooters, fighting games, battle royale games, and real-time strategy games.
Best Websites and Resources for Esports Betting in the U.S
Any organized sport with a large pool of fans usually develops an inherent betting community. These days, people are betting and winning big on esports events all over the world. Here are a few of the best esports betting sites in the United States:
One of the off-shore entries on this list, BetOnline is US-facing, meaning that it caters to the needs of American bettors. The websites interface has a separate esports section where you can scroll through live and upcoming leagues and tournaments, see available odds, and place your bet. With a first-time deposit bonus of 100% on amounts between $50-$1,000 as well as recurring promotions, the website makes betting simple and fun.
Not a betting site in the traditional sense, SickOdds is, instead, a complete esports betting resource for bettors. The websites gathers information on the best esports betting sites, odds on upcoming games and tournaments, and promotions from multiple sites and consolidates the information for bettors to use. With its well-built interface, the platform places all the stats and odds you need front and center to improve your esports betting experience and (hopefully) record.
This sportsbook platform has enjoyed years of success in the American market with its track record of consistency and reliability in the odds and available games that it provides American bettors. The platform accepts bets from the entire United States on tournaments around games like Dota 2, League of Legends, Overwatch, and more. Sportsbetting.ag also hosts markets on all of the big North American year-round esports events.
Quick Esports Betting Tips
Here are a few pointers to help you make the best bets on esports tournaments on any website.
- Keep an eye out for promotions. Most betting websites run occasional promotions on esports bets on a set category or different games.
- Make sure to compare odds across different websites (using Sickodds, for instance) in order to maximize your winnings.
- Explore other betting options for esports like exotics, first blood, futures, and map winner. These are usually less risky and can sometimes pay handsomely, especially if you have a good feeling about a particular result.
- Follow your favorite esports teams as they progress through a tournament. This will give you a strong idea of their strengths and weaknesses, and leave you ready to pounce on juicy lines when they become available.