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Why we shouldn’t underestimate the complexity of the esports market

With many sportsbooks looking to plug the gap left by the cancellation of sporting events, are esports the simple answer operators are looking for?

With most sporting events around the world cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic, operators have had to look to alternative markets such as table tennis, Belarussian football and esports. Whilst sporting bodies have had to look at alternative options in order to keep their fan bases engaged.

The Home Tour league sees professional darts players compete at home through a video feed, whereas for Premier League footballers competing on video game Fifa 2020 is the most suitable substitute for the real thing. Sky Bet, William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bet365 are among the UK operators to feature both the FIFA ePremier League Invitational and PDC Darts Home Tour on their sportsbook homepages.

Meanwhile some operators like DraftKings (in the US) and 888 have expanded their virtual sports offering recently, and last week 888 announced they had signed a partnership with Golden Race to offer a range of virtual sports games across both their casino and sportsbook. But how do these compare to the world of esports?

Online Gambling Quarterly found that the number of bets placed on esports markets increased by 61% in March and this number has continued to grow in April.

As businesses look to make the most of this growing market, we take a look at the challenge sportsbooks may encounter when offering esports betting markets.

Whilst many are rushing to offer esports markets, not every operator is set up to compete in the esports world. As these markets expand to cover more events, trading specialists with a key understanding of the nuances in the many popular titles within esports will be required. Esports markets won’t always be as straightforward as 1X2 betting; with many different competitions covering different titles which all require different skillsets, knowing how to price up each match is uniquely challenging.

Trading can be problematic when it comes to offering esports markets. Whilst two players competing in a game of Fifa may be a simple enough offer, teams playing a drawn-out game of League of Legends – which can go on for days – is harder to discuss in the same terms an operator would be used to discussing a football match.

Typically, sportsbook odds compilers know when all the Premier League, Champions League, World Cup etc. fixtures are and what they mean, but they are less likely to know which tournaments and contests matter most in esports. Expecting your trading team to gain a deep knowledge of the complex esports market within a few weeks is unrealistic, and anyone who thinks maybe there’s a round of fixtures each week to focus on is going to find themselves disappointed. There are hundreds of fixtures across different games in different leagues in different countries counting towards different titles and awards. Every esports title has different tiered competitions, with scores of titles for fans to choose from.

The idea that it would be simple to slot esports markets in to the gap where there used to be football, horse racing and tennis is sadly misguided. It is all too easy to underestimate the complexities of the esports world’s many titles, teams and contests.

With the majority of search traffic being dominated by the biggest games CSGO and League of Legends, bookmakers are faced with the question of whether to offer a smaller number of the biggest CSGO match ups each week or to push a wider selection of encounters across the lesser known titles such as Pubg and Rocket League.

We don’t have all the answers, and the depth of markets offered will fall down to the esports expertise housed within each operator’s staff team – and their risk profile. Whilst we can’t predict what will happen next, we are working with our clients to understand the complexity of the esports market and bring new esports affiliates on board. If you need a sounding board or any advice on how to navigate the developing market, please get in touch with us at Digital Fuel Marketing.

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