Traditional sports will always drive the esports industry, but there will soon be real competition in the popularity stakes, said BETER’s Chief Product Officer Alex Lobov who revealed that the recent Euro 2020 tournament has sparked an elevated interest in e-football.
Speaking to SBC News, Lobov explained that BETER currently provides its clients with live streaming and monthly data and odds for more than 15,000 ESportsBattle events and unsurprisingly, e-football has proven to be the most popular – a trend strengthened by major football tournaments.
He said: “During UEFA Euro 2020, ESportsBattle e-football matches chalked up far more views, which, in turn, led to increased bettor engagement and bets’ number. For example, one of our clients stated that there was a 50% uptake in the number of bets placed between May and June. In the run-up to big matches, we witnessed a huge spike in engagement in EsportsBattle e-football events.
“Betting on e-football gives bettors a chance to feel even more involved in the whole Euro 2020 experience, as though they are participating in the tournament all day every day.
“Moreover, international tournaments like Euro 2020 have boosted demand for betting in general. In 2021, more people were betting on ESportsBattle e-football matches before Euro 2020 matches. For instance, the number of ESportsBattle efootball matches streamed by one of the leading betting operators has increased x 3 from December 2020 to June 2021.”
Lobov suggested that the key differences between the ‘classic’ sport and the esports version as betting products – both in terms of seasonality and schedule – provides a clue as to why e-football is now so popular.
He continued: “The main difference between e-football and football is that football is seasonal and follows a rigid schedule, while e-football is the complete opposite: there are tournaments on 24/7, different match formats, there is a wide variety of markets, the contests are gripping and evenly-matched.
“Bets are also accepted for as long as possible during each match, there are reams of stats for all players and matches, and there are even player video clips.
“However, e-football could not exist without football. Euro 2020 saw interest in e-football grow significantly, which highlights the link between major sporting events and esports tournaments. Traditional sports will always drive the esports industry, even though esports are catching their traditional counterparts up in the popularity stakes.
“Sporting events are among the dwindling group of things on the schedule that can still attract millions of people to tune in to traditional broadcast television instead of streaming services.
“But equally, the esports industry appears to be entering an exciting stage in its development. Traditional sports still garner more viewers than esports, but it might only be a matter of time before things change.”
But despite their differences, the Chief Product Officer of BETER noted that there are a number of similarities between e-football and the traditional sport, particularly with regards to associated betting markets.
For Lobov, those new to the world of e-football often look towards ‘familiar’ markets such as number of goals, match winners etc as a segue to betting on e-football.
“Beginners do much the same thing as experienced bettors do for football, i.e. place bets on match winners, totals, handicaps etc.” he said.
“You can place bets on different markets. For example, you can choose the number of goals to be scored in a match or the winner of a particular game. If you are planning to bet on e-football, you also need to find out which esports competitors you support as you are betting not only on disciplines and matches, but also on the gamers themselves.”
Looking towards the future, e-football appears to have “bags of potential” and presents “a whole host of exciting opportunities for both sportsbooks and bettors alike”.
It should therefore come as no surprise that BETER will be “keeping its finger on the pulse” when it comes to developing esports and understanding the needs of its end-users, namely bettors.
He concluded: “We can see that esports, and e-football specifically, are going from strength to strength and we strongly believe that major sports events will drive the esports industry even further forward. We always keep a packed schedule of events, constantly test and add new disciplines, formats and modes, and provide marketing support for events.
“We are confident that e-football will continue to be of key importance in the industry despite the return of traditional sports. E-football is not supposed to replace its real-life counterpart, it is simply a response to the demands of audiences for more non-stop, fast-paced and dynamic content.”