IEM Katowice is in full-swing, with the League of Legends action done and dusted last weekend and the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Starcraft II competition in progress as we speak.
The primary focus of those who attended and exhibited at ICE (the world’s largest gambling exhibition), from an esports perspective, was the in-play aspect of esports betting. It’s an immensely challenging area that is still proving extremely difficult to crack. Sportradar, Bet Genius, RTSmunity, Vermantia and Ultraplay were amongst those to flex their proverbial esports muscles as they showcased their betting products to intrigued potential customers.
With near enough every exhibitor flaunting Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in-play offerings at ICE, IEM Katowice’s hectic Group Stage schedule provided the perfect opportunity for us to survey various operator’s offerings.
If we’re totally honest, it wasn’t overly pretty viewing. It was a reminder of the intrinsic challenges the esports betting industry faces in cracking what promises to be a lucrative market with substantial potential to attract millennial punters that may otherwise be deterred from gambling.
Looking at most bookmakers was akin to checking the sorry state of the TFL website in the midst of a strike; suspended, suspended, suspended. Bet365 provided the only respite in what was otherwise quite a sorry state of affairs.
PLEASE NOTE: All screenshots showcased in the following article were taken yesterday during the Natus Vincere versus Heroic match within two minutes of each other.
Coral’s esports category has, for as long as we can remember, been dormant with nothing on offer for those wishing to have a bet pre-match. Occasionally over the last six months we would see a Starcraft market emerge but it would be sporadic and we’ve not seen any other esports covered by the bookmaker.
Our surprise that they were offering odds in-play on the CS:GO was palpable. In a slightly bemusing fashion, there were no markets for the remaining games set to be played throughout the day but surely as each match started, the live betting aspect would emerge on the Coral portal. Sadly, the markets were, more often than not, suspended and there wasn’t a huge amount of opportunity to have a bet.
GG.Bet have made quite the rumble in the esports betting scene. They’re a dedicated esports bookmaker that seemingly appeared out of nowhere and has since signed a multitude of partnerships and sponsorship deals with some of the biggest names in esports.
They’ve signed partnerships with teams such as Fnatic, Team NP and Alliance and have sponsored events such as Moonduck’s Elimination Mode tournament in huge esport title Dota 2.
Whilst we didn’t expect much from Coral, we expected more from a dedicated bookmaker that has dedicated substantial resource into establishing their brand in the esports landscape. Unfortunately, for much of the day and in the Natus Vincere vs Heroic game, the markets were found to be frequently suspended with little to no depth if and when an in-play opportunity appeared.
Pinnacle have taken over 5 million esports bets and have long been synonymous with the esports betting scene. Again, the in-play looks to be a tough one for even the most established brands to crack.
Although their ambitious round betting markets seemed to sparsely be available to bet on and similarly the match betting markets found wanting, they did have the Full Buy markets available more often than not. It’s an interesting market, and one that we’ve not seen offered before even by the bookmakers who have more of a tendency to offer a deeper pool of markets. It’ll be fascinating to see if markets such as the above become more commonplace – but for the time being having the fundamental markets nailed down should be the wider focus of the betting industry.
Also, a blip on their part lists Cloud9 vs Heroic as an ELEAGUE match-up. The ELEAGUE Major ended a considerable while ago and it should have instead been placed under IEM Katowice, the ongoing CS tournament.
We’ve always lauded Skybet’s pre-match offering as one of the best around. They generally have good depth of markets and odds on all of the significant fixtures in the wonderful world of esports.
When it comes to the in-play, however, they tend to follow the theme of the aforementioned bookmakers as we find the market suspended for the majority of the match.
It’s safe to say that William Hill tried with esports yet they managed to get themselves in quite the pickle yesterday throughout the day.
Firstly, they still had their ante-post odds available after a day and a half of competition which had seen three teams already knocked out and another three heading that way very shortly afterwards. Secondly, their markets followed suit and were often found suspended when looking attempting to offer in-play odds. By the end of the day they had just pulled their entire Katowice offering – and going into the main event of the competition today it has yet to reappear.
If you fancy a bet on the StarCraft, though, William Hill are most definitely best priced on this match…
It’s safe to say that Hills are not having the best time with their esports and probably should have eased into it slightly more than they have done. Even then, releasing a match with a two-way outcome with odds of 2/1 and 4/1 is a fairly monumental mistake. Their limits on esports are small and seemingly with good reason.
Now a story wouldn’t be complete without a twist in the tale; a knight in shining armour rescuing a damsel in distress from a rather sorry state of affairs. Sure enough, the ever-reliable and proficient Bet365 played the knight to ESI’s damsel and offered live odds on the Natus Vincere and Heroic match-up.
There wasn’t incredible depth nor was it staggeringly ground-breaking but at least you could see odds available and place a bet. It’s the small things in life, right?