Esports 101: Your guide to the world of competitive gaming

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With arenas bursting at the seams, millions of viewers across the world, resounding prize pools worth tens of millions, among others, this is the competitive gaming field called esports. While it’s an element residing in the vast global gaming ecosystem, it’s a rising wonder today and for the years to come. So, what’s the deal with esports? Whether you are a budding pro gamer, bettor, or fan, Bitcasino’s esports guides walk you through its fun-filled basic elements. 

Esports explained

Esports is a shortened word from the longer and more technical term ‘electronic sports’. It’s the professional competitive field of gaming. Pro gamers and teams battle one another in organised multiplayer video game tournaments for prize pools, trophies, and prestige. While the events are based on video games, they are held in massive arenas to avoid network latency between players and audiences.

The early days of esports

Esports is, without a doubt, a thriving field. It is an industry valued at $1 billion and a major entertainment that appeals to gamers and non-endemic sectors across the globe. However, far from what the media typically delivers, it is not a new mass phenomenon. Instead, it has a history of more than five decades, where the earliest recorded competition was in the early 1970s.

In 1972, Stanford University invited students to take their skills in the space-themed game called Spacewar. Developed in 1962 by Steve Russell, the goal was to kill all of the aliens through an armed spacecraft that switches from one side to the other. Interesting to note, its grand prize was a year’s subscription for the popular Rolling Stone magazine. Meanwhile today, prize pools like Valve Corporation’s The International (TI) increase every year—currently reported at $40 million.

The potential of the internet greatly shifted the mainstream from arcade video games to online video games. As such, gaming standards became even more demanding yet exciting for both players and developers.

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For one, instead of battling each other based on accrued high scores, players would directly challenge one another. It’s a concept of direct competition from Capcom’s Street Fighter II and Marvel vs. Capcom. These fighting games paved the way for multiple esports disciplines like multiplayer and free-for-all action game modes. To celebrate the series of games that came after under the genre, the annual esports tournament Evolution Championship Series (EVO) opened in 1996.

While most of the large esports tournaments in the late 1990s are in the U.S., esports’ global presence wasn’t felt until the early 2000s in South Korea. A lot of factors contributed for it to lead the way, but it was the promotion and regulation of the national government that ensured its success and longevity. 

For one, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism founded the Korea e-Sports Association (KeSPA) in 2000 to manage the esports industry in the country. Then, competitions like StarCraft and Warcraft III are regularly televised by 24-hour cable TV game channels OGN and MBC Game, to name a few. 

Now, as more investors and spectators join the rise, newer technologies are added every so often. Let’s see how esports sits today in the global culture and market. 

How esports is now

Esports is a global success, but that wasn’t always the case. As with other thriving organisations and individuals, it also experiences backlashes in labelling it as an official form of sport. By textbook, oppositions believe that it couldn’t meet the basic requirement of sports, which is the inclusion of physical aspects. Despite the controversies, that didn’t stop national governments to recognise its potential. Apart from South Korea, below are the initial countries that jumped into the picture:

  • Nepal
  • Denmark
  • China
  • South Africa
  • Turkey
  • Russia
  • France
  • Italy

In October 2017, the road for esports in becoming officially recognised shed light when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged its growing worldwide sensation. This is a promising feat that we all will certainly look forward to in the near future. As always, Bitcasino’s esports guides are here, ready to give you sufficient and relevant information.

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Top 5 esports genres to explore

Albeit not yet recognised, it seems that the esports industry is doing quite well in terms of both numbers and prestige. In 2019, statistics reported that its total viewership reached 454 million people and predicted to grow to 646 million by 2023. What do these spectators follow and watch about? Find out the popular disciplines or genres of esports below.

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)
MOBA games may be a subgenre of real-time strategy, but they have one of the biggest viewerships, player-base numbers and tournaments. Two teams compete against each other in a predefined arena. From destroying opponents’ positions to spawning allies and upgrading skins, there are so many complex elements available that they arguably require more strategy than what the typical real-time strategy games deliver.

Riot Games’ League of Legends (LoL) and Valve’s Dota 2 are the two reigning MOBAs for more than a decade. They also have the largest, richest, and most prestigious annual tournaments, namely, the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds) and The International (TI), respectively.

First-person shooter (FPS)
FPS is another subgenre but under the shooter video games. Like MOBAs, these games are renowned due to their multiple yet familiar elements. They share features with action-based games, online multiplayer gaming, and advanced 3D graphics. Their unique main objective, however, is the gaming experience of a first-person perspective. Players are centred on gun and other weapon-based combat and control their characters in a three-dimensional space.

Another Valve product on this list is the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). It’s the epitome of FPS, in which it continues to create features that gamers want and where other games didn’t have. With the dedication of skills needed, it’s also no wonder that it has a global tournament commonly called the Majors.

Turn-based strategy
Arguably next in line to MOBAs, turn-based strategy (TBS) video games are taking quite a spot in the esports landscape. They are the test of video gaming complexity, strategic and logistical challenges commonly used for wargames.

An example of this subgenre is the award-winning strategy game Hearthstone by Blizzard Entertainment. Launched in 2014, it’s a free-to-play online digital collectable card game that continues to appeal to millions of players worldwide. Its highest and most revered tournament, called Hearthstone World Championship, brings players from the American, Asian, and European continents in one arena.

Sports and fighting
Despite what controversies say, sports organisations are also teaming up with esports. From basic video games about basketball, American football, association soccer, and even fantasy sports, there are now grand leagues with tens of thousands worth of prize money. The popular examples include FIFA eWorld Cup, NBA 2K League, and Rocket League.
Battle royale
Battle royale is a fast-rising online multiplayer genre, which has a theme of last-man-standing gameplay and requires survival skills. It is based on the critically acclaimed 2000 Japanese action-thriller film, Battle Royale.

Similar to MOBAs, battle royale games have million-dollar tournaments. The big three are PUBG Corporation’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Epic Games’ Fortnite, and Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends. While they are relatively newer than Dota 2 and LoL, they are among the list of video games with the fastest reach of gaining tens of millions of players upon release on the market.

Different tournament formats

Now that you know the five most popular esports genres, along with the highest and most prized tournaments, keep in mind that they are franchised events. Unlike traditional sports, they don’t promote nor relegate teams and players. Instead, they have different formats and standards. 

So, before we dive into an exciting esports activity — esports betting — see to it that you understand the broad structure of the tournaments. Below are the three major elements often found in any event. 

  1. Open and closed tournaments

Franchised leagues have a fixed number of available spots, where each team or player comes with certain sponsorship costs. As such, they have the liberty of whether to have the event open or closed. 

Open tournaments mean that anybody who qualifies for the league’s requirements is allowed to join. Closed tournaments, on the other hand, refer to franchisers’ absolute discretion in strictly limiting both the number and names of participants using invitations.

There are, of course, tournaments that bridge as open and closed matches. Take Dota 2’s TI as an example. It’s a closed event where teams are only invited based on their performances in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC). It’s an open series of matches that allows teams and players to qualify for the former major event. 

  1. 5 match types

Any hosted competitive event has a series of matches to remove weaker contenders from potential winners. To do so, esports leagues also use the ‘Best of…’ system for teams and players to prove their worth as they work their way up the ladder. Below are the stages that normally occur, whether between two insanely talented contenders or labour-intensive video games.

  • Best of 1 (BO1) — It’s for single games that don’t have playoffs or knockout stages. 
  • Best of 2 (BO2) — It’s for matches with two map victories and with a possible draw of 1:1.
  • Best of 3 (BO3) — Where the thrilling fun comes from, it’s a series of two victories that often occur in knockout stages. 
  • Best of 5 (BO5) — It’s a rare format of three victories happening in major tournaments.
  • Best of 7 (BO7) — It’s an even rarer yet quite exciting series of five victories that run around two to five hours. 
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  1. Tournament stages

Now that you know the five different match types, as well as how contenders need to win to advance in a tournament, let’s proceed with the group stages and knockout stages.

Group stage

Also called ‘pool stage’ or ‘pool play’, it’s the opening part or first stage of the tournament. Franchisers divide contenders and determine their performances using either round-robin, double round-robin, or Swiss seeding.

  • Round-robin

Round-robin is where every contender has the chance to face all other participants up to the BO3 match type. Although it’s broad and lengthy, this format gives them equal chances of winning and room to make mistakes.

  • Double round-robin

When two or more opponents rank equally, or depending on the decision of the franchisers, contenders get to face each other for another round. Any points received or results made determine who should advance to the next stage: the knockout stage. 

  • Swiss seeding

For a faster and better flow of results, tournaments with a large number of contenders use the Swiss seeding format. Instead of facing all contenders, franchisers divide them first into multiple groups. The winners of each group advance to the next stage. 

In sports, common examples of this format are chess, bridge, and Scrabble, to name a few. In esports, however, is CS:GO. Since 2017, only eight of the 16 teams go on to the knockout stage and face each other based on their earned seeds. 

Playoff or knockout stage

The intense, hypercompetitive gaming experience begins at the playoff or knockout stage. Using single and double elimination, it is a straightforward format because contenders are kicked off until two finalists remain. 

Somewhat similar to the round-robin and double round-robin, the former is an all-or-nothing format. One loss kicks them outside, and a win moves them forward. The latter, on the other hand, gives another chance by dividing winners and losers. Contenders who lose again in the lower bracket are officially sent home.

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Esports betting types

As the esports industry continues to deliver both in presence and numbers, more and more investors are taking their slices. This also means that multiple activities are created now and then. From live streaming to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), esports betting is one of the hottest tickets of them all.

Esports betting isn’t entirely different from traditional sports betting. You study the odds, pick a team or player, place your bets, and wait for the results. Here at Bitcasino, we want your gambling experience to be seamless, lucrative, and fun. With our reliable odds, effective betting strategies, and various betting markets, you’re in for a fantastic treat. To get you started, below are the popular betting types to keep in mind:

Outright bet
It’s the type of wager placed on how the entire competition will end rather than on every match. Given the common formats used in any esports event, outright betting also allows you to place bets even if the tournament has already started.
In-play
Also called ‘live betting’, it’s a betting type that will certainly keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s where you place bets during an ongoing match. Instead of depending on odds, it gives you a better advantage as you analyse their moves, accrued points, and standings.
Next 24 hours
Recent matches play a pivotal role in teams and players’ odds. This betting type allows you to review their performances one last time as you place your bets on the outcome of the event in the next 24 hours.
Future bets
Most betting types are based on future events, but this type has a broader range. It’s where you bet on matches either before or at the start of a season. Only that, the payouts get reduced as the season progresses.
Draw
can’t decide which of the two teams or players will win the match? You can still earn profits using the draw betting type, where you place bets that the outcome results in a draw.
Special bets
More special esports betting types are created in online sportsbooks to cater for different gaming genres that enter the market and for franchised leagues with distinct formats and standards. The most popular are as follows:
-First blood: You place bets on a contender who you think will score the match’s first skill. It’s common in MOBas like LoL and FPS like CS:GO.
-Knife round/Pistol round: This betting type is for FPS games’ pistol round, where the most notable examples include CS:GO and Riot Games’ Valorant.
-Map winner: You place bets on a contender who you believe will have the first map victory.

Moving forward with esports: 4 trends in esports

Esports has had quite a long way to reach where it is now — a major success in both numbers and appeal. Without a doubt, these make everyone wonder what does the industry have to offer more soon? With Bitcasino as your source of information, we’ll keep you on the edge as you move forward with esports. For now, here are some of the four up-and-coming trends to watch in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Mobile esports are close within the corner
  2. Esports teams will continue to branch out
  3. A rise in non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  4. A further innovation of traditional sports organisations towards the esports space