Match betting is a major part of the eSports betting economy. As the name implies, match betting involves placing a bet on the outcome of an eSports match. While there are a number of ways that such bets can be arranged, the most common way is a simple bet placed on the team or player to win an individual match.
Since most matches are not considered to be dead-even events – usually one team or player is favored over another – eSports match betting sites will usually assign some odds to both sides of the match. Let’s imagine a match between Liquid and Team Solo Mid where TSM is favored to win. A typical line for a match like this might place the odds on TSM at 2-1 (for every two dollars in skin value you wager, you would win one dollar if TSM emerged victorious).
Sometimes you’ll see these odds expressed as a +/- money line for eSports matches. Let’s take our Liquid vs TSM example above. As Liquid is the underdog, you might see a line for betting on Liquid expressed as +200 – meaning you would win $200 for every $100 in skins you wagered. For the favorite, the line is usually negative. So the line on TSM might be -200, meaning you would need to wager $200 in order to win $100.
eSports match betting is conducted both in skins and in case, meaning you have the option to chose between sites that allow you to wager skins on the outcome of an eSports match and sites that allow you to place traditional cash wagers on a wide variety of eSports events. Both formats are growing quickly, and both offer coverage of nearly every major eSports event. Smaller and regional events may be harder to find, and for the niche eSports or mid-tier events, you’ll probably find more coverage at skin match betting sites as opposed to cash-based bookmakers like bet365 and betway.
Match betting is becoming an increasingly popular and sophisticated option for eSports bettors. As more and more sites offer eSports match betting, the types and amount of available bets continue to increase – as do the amounts of money and skins involved. We’ve seen matches where hundreds of thousands – if not over a million dollars – in skins have been wagered on just a single match.
Jackpot sites are arguably the most popular form of skin betting. Jackpot games are incredibly simple affairs, and that simplicity may be part of the reason why they are so popular.
The mechanics of jackpot games aren’t difficult to grasp – anyone with experience with a lottery or wheel of fortune will appreciate how jackpot skin betting games work. But for those who aren’t familiar with those types of gambling games, here’s an example of how a typical jackpot game works at a skin betting site.
All of the players in the jackpot game contribute some amount of skins to the pot. Based on the value of the skins, the player will be assigned a number of tickets. Let’s say you contribute a skin worth $10 – in most jackpot games you would receive one ticket for every .01 of value that your skin had according to current market value. So your skin would be worth 1000 tickets in the jackpot. This process would repeat for every player that deposited a skin into the pool.
Usually the jackpot game will start when a predetermined number of skins has been deposited. A common target number is 50. Your chances of winning are generally a function of the amount of tickets you have relative to the total size of the pot. So if the total value of skins deposited into the pot was $1000, and you deposited $10 worth of skins, you would have a 1% chance of winning (1000 tickets out of 1,000,000).
When the threshold number of skins is reached, the jackpot wheel spins, and a winner is determined via random draw. Some jackpot sites will show a wheel with the avatars of all players around the outside of the wheel, which suggests that all players have an equal chance of winning. That’s not the case, even if it appears so visually. The chances of winning are a function of how much you’ve contributed to the entire pot. Whoever wins claims the entire pot of skins, less some percentage kept by the site as a fee.
Fantasy eSports is a relatively new way for eSports fans to bet on matches. As opposed to match betting, fantasy eSports doesn’t involve picking which team will win an eSports event, but rather involves you creating a team of players who are participating in a given event. Your team receives a score based on the individual performances of the players that you’ve drafted, and you compete against other teams drafted by other fans to see who can field the team with the highest total score.
Scoring for the players on your team is usually determined by their individual achievements within a given match – for example, you might receive points when your LoL player makes a kill, draws first blood, takes down the Dragon or destroys the inhibitor. The scoring systems vary from site to site, so be sure to review the individual scoring system for each particular eSports before drafting your team.
Like match betting, fantasy eSports can be bet on using skins or using cash.
Fantasy eSports is arguably one of the smallest verticals in the eSports betting universe; match betting has far more action, as do jackpot sites. But despite the fact that fantasy eSports is a niche product, it still attracts a very loyal and engaged fan base. Fantasy eSports provides fans with a unique way to interact with eSports matches, giving them a reason to root for individual players and individual performances as opposed to simply rooting for one team to win or one team to lose.
Fans also enjoy fantasy eSports due to the depth of analysis that can be involved in drafting the best possible team. The activity of assembling and analyzing stats around a particular game and particular player is a satisfying one for fans who enjoy being immersed in a game beyond the level of simply viewing it. That aspect of fantasy eSports likely ensures that, while the product may not reach the lofty popularity of jackpot sites, it will remain a small but critical part of the eSports betting ecosystem for years to come.
Free Betting Sites
Free betting on eSports is not so much a distinct product as a variation on existing ways to bet on eSports. You can find free versions of eSports match betting, eSports jackpot betting, and fantasy eSports at a variety of sites.
There are a number of ways that sites manage free betting on eSports, but the most popular is simply for the site to offer some kind of internal currency – for example, Unikoins at Unikrn – that cannot be purchased, but is given away to users. Users then employ that internal currency to place bets, and winning bets are rewarded with more of the internal currency.
Generally speaking, the currency doesn’t have any value. Some sites will hold raffles for games, hardware, skins, or other goodies that can be entered with the currency, so you do have the opportunity to get some value if you play smart with your free bets. But usually the point of free betting sites is for players to learn the ropes and get comfortable with the concept of betting on eSports, or simply to play for fun in order to develop their acumen, win bragging rights among their friends, or keep track of how good of an eSports handicapper they really are.
Free betting sites are not always standalone products – in many cases, sites that offer free bets on eSports will also offer a real-money betting product alongside the free one. The great thing about free betting in these cases is that you can basically “try before you buy” – play on the site for the free bets and see if you enjoy the interface and the games before depositing skins or real money and betting with those.