Esports vs Traditional Sports Betting: What’s the Difference?

Published: Aug 3, 2023

As esports become more and more accepted around the world. By generations younger and older alike. It’s easier than ever to see it as a good investment for companies looking to expose their brand to a new and attentive audience. As the scenes of many stand-out esports grow and grow, the tournaments get bigger and bigger. Where there is competition there is a prize. And much like with traditional sports, where there is an audience, there is a wager to be had. In this piece, I’ll look at the differences, and similarities, of esports vs traditional sports betting.

Evolution of Esports and its Relation to Traditional Sports

Esports, the product of competition and a strive to be the best existing within all walks of life. Beginning humbly on the scoreboards of old and dusty arcade machines, as people got to grips with a new digital age. Now the medium has grown beyond what could possibly ever have been expected.

In recent years personal computers have become all the more accessible. The titles of choice have gone from Pacman, space invaders and Tomb Raider. To the likes of Counter-Strike, Call of Duty and League of Legends.

Its counterpart is its most comparable production in terms of competitive nature, personal expression and attraction of onlookers. Is obviously the traditional set of sports.

This is proof that human nature creates competition for its own sake. That watching somebody perform something in an exceptional manner. A manner that displays grit, determination and learnedness is inspiring no matter the medium. In such a way, esports and sports differ but are also very much the same.

esports vs traditional sports betting
CS:GO’s Blast Paris Major (Blast)

Accessibility and Audience Reach

As the media looks for more and more ways to pit sports vs. esports. It’s only natural to consider esports betting vs sports betting as an extension. How do they differ? Well for starters, the setting.

Esports is infinitely more available on hand than the vast majority of traditional sports. You don’t need a TV, a subscription or even to create an account in most cases. Simply open Twitch or Youtube and the top tier games are immediately available for viewing. Professional CSGO and LoL games at your fingertips.

This presents esports betting sites with an audience that has no barrier to entry, which is a big win for esports in terms of esports betting vs sports betting.

Leveraging Data to Make Informed Decisions

In esports betting vs sports betting, it’s clear that statisticians with a love for the games that they follow have looked for every way to measure the players and teams that they follow and love. To garner knowledge for an edge in betting. That or simply to set in stone which player on paper has more impact.

However, due to the very nature of esports taking place in a controlled environment on a digital platform, every element of a given game can be captured and presented as a piece of data. The intangibles obviously being exempt from this.

This gives bettors access to more esports betting data than ever to make informed decisions on their expectations for the result of a game.

esports vs sports betting
Image: Vasyl Shulga

Game Context and Variable Factors in Esports vs Sports Betting

Another significant difference, in esports betting vs sports betting, is the variance in the context of the game.

  • For example, if you were going to bet on CSGO you’d want to know that the match could be played on any of the given seven maps in the pool, depending on the picks and the bans of the team. This adjusts the likelihood of a team winning or losing a half, depending on if the map is T (terrorist) or CT (counter-terrorist) sided.
  • Or within League of Legends, where the map always remains Summoner’s Rift, but the draft phase means that any of the five players could end up on any of one hundred and sixty-plus different champions available to select in the game.

This variance is more prevalent in esports betting vs. traditional sports betting. As for example a sport like basketball sees the same players on the same court for each and every game, there are fewer variables for the consumer to keep track of.

Profit Potential and Analytical Advantage

But something that remains true regardless of which side you land on, in esports vs traditional sports betting is that there is money to be made if you truly know your stuff. But this variance in context, can be a boon to esports bettors.

Knowing the map, a team might be likely to steer towards and whether their opponent likes to ban it, and knowing the draft before deciding who is going to achieve first blood in the game can all help when it comes to profit.

esports vs sports betting

With there being more variance, there’s more to bet on, more that can be studied and quantified, leaving you with a clearer idea of where a game might be headed than simply knowing Team A is playing Team B and Team B is playing on their home field.

Implications for Betting

Despite many countries regarding esports players as athletes and affording them special visas with this in mind to aid in travel. For example, the United States, China, South Korea, and India, to name but a few. The two are generally referred to separately: Sports and Esports.

The consensus of old age media seems to be that a sport requires you to exert yourself. However, as Rick Fox, Canadian Actor, former Basketball player and owner of Echo Fox, famously put it on TheView: “I think about what it took for me to become a professional athlete. It took a lot of concentration, a lot of dedication, practice, preparation, stamina… they’re professionals, they have careers.”

Much to the chagrin of the other members of the ensemble, one of whom simply stated, “If they don’t sweat it’s not a sport.” Whether you think so or not shouldn’t affect your view on esports vs traditional sports betting, as it’s important to focus on what will generate the most beneficial outcome for you.

Leveraging Knowledge and Responsible Gambling

Overall, when it comes to esports vs traditional sports betting, if you have a preference for following either category, then it’s best to apply your knowledge to the area where you have the most of it.

It’s important to make informed decisions and to always bet responsibly. Never put forward more than you can afford to lose. With this in mind if you are still on the fence, with the larger degree of accessible data that esports betting has and the smaller barrier to entry. It might be pertinent to make your way into this space first as an icebreaker.

Jacob Crick

Since: June 27, 2023

A computer science graduate with a passion for writing, Jacob found his way to esports by watching EnvyUs highlights from the 2015 CSGO major. Eight years later, he's a knowledge base for and avid follower of the beautiful game of Counter-Strike, with further specialisation in League of Legends and Valorant, but a commitment to general knowledge in and around the esports space. Oh yeah, and he's still an Apex fan all these years later. La la la Vitality.

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