Guide to Betting on Esports Tournaments

By in Tips & Advice on

Esports tournaments are exciting to watch if you’re a video game enthusiast. These events see the world’s top players from various games compete against each other.

But what’s even more fun than watching esports tournaments is betting on them. Many online bookmakers give you the chance to wager on these tourneys and make money.

Of course, betting on esports events can be overwhelming if you’re new to the process. Just the sheer act of visiting a betting site and seeing dozens of lines can be daunting.

The good thing, though, is that you can quickly learn how to bet on esports tournaments. Keep reading as I discuss more about these events, understanding the odds, prop bets, finding a good site, and tournament betting strategy.

Examples of Major Esports Tournaments

Esports are much like traditional sports in that there are a number of games, leagues, and major events. Within each of these games is a marquee tournament that draws the most viewers and betting action.

The International, which is based on Dota 2, is essentially the Super Bowl of esports. Launched in 2011 by the Valve Corporation, The International sees 16 teams compete for a prize pool worth over $20 million.

This event is broadcast on ESPN as well as through a number of online streaming services. In 2018, viewers watched OG Dota win a massive payout worth $11 million.

Another huge esports event is the League of Legends (LoL)World Championship, or simply the “Worlds.” This tournament has become the most-watched esports event thanks to LoL’s popularity.

Run by Riot Games, the Worlds involves24 teams squaring off for seven weeks. Team Samsung Galaxyis the reigning champion after winning this tourney in 2017 along with $1.54 million.

LoL forms the basis for another huge tournament called the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). The MSI takes place every spring and involves 14 teams competing against each other.

Keep in mind that the three events mentioned here only cover a small portion of what’s available in esports. You can find numerous other tourneys throughout the year by visiting online bookmakers.

Understanding Esports Tournament Bets & Odds

Youwon’t have much trouble adjusting to esports betting if you’ve ever wagered on traditional sports. Both types of gambling are similar in terms of odds and available bets.

Most bookmakers feature moneyline wagers with either decimal or American odds. A moneyline is a straight-up bet, where you pick one side to win the contest.

Odds are attached to each side to make all of the propositions attractive. Otherwise, everybody would just bet on the favorite.

Here’s an example of a Dota 2 moneyline wager with decimal odds:

  • Clutch Gamers 1.45
  • Draw 3.1
  • Gaming 8.0

You stand to win $1.45 total for every $1 bet on Clutch Gamers ($1 wager + $0.45 profit). You can win $8 for every $1 bet on ARK.Gaming ($1 wager + $7 profit).

Here’s an example of a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) moneyline bet with American odds:

  • Space Soldiers +224
  • Natus Vincere -313

You must risk $3.13 to win $1 in profit ($4.13 total) on Natus Vincere. You risk $1 to win $1.24 in profit ($2.24 total) on Space Soldiers.

All of the above examples involve individual matches. But esports tournament betting also gives you an opportunity to wager on the “outright” winner of a tourney too.

Outrights involve choosing the overall winner of a tournament. Your selection must win the event, or else you lose.

Here’s an example of an outright bet on the winner of the 2018 Hearthstone Global Games:

  • Norway 4.0
  • China 4.5
  • New Zealand 6.0
  • Taiwan 6.0
  • Brazil 7.0
  • Spain 8.0
  • Bulgaria 8.0
  • Hong Kong 10.0

Outright wagers are fun from the perspective that they offer larger potential payouts than a match bet. Even the favorite, Norway, is offering $4 in winnings for every $1 wagered.

But the difficult thing about outrights is that your pick needs to win the entire event for you to be successful. Even the favorites have a tough path towards winning, which places more risk on these bets.

Esports Tournament Prop Bets

Proposition bets are made on outcomes that aren’t reliant on the final score. For example, the LoL Worlds features bets like “First Baron Slain,” “First Inhibitor Destroyed,” and “Player of the Tournament.”

These wagers give bettors a chance to place entertaining side wagers. The biggest esports tournaments offer a large range of prop bets, because there are so many interested gamblers.

Esports tournament prop bets are similar to outrights with regard to how they work. You’ll be presented with several options, each with different odds attached.

Here are sample prop bets from Dota 2’s The International:

Where will The International Winner Hail from?

  • China +170
  • Europe +230
  • CIS +285
  • South East Asia +775
  • North America +920
  • South America +5500

Number of Games Played in Main Event

  • 40-44 +800
  • 45-49 -125
  • 50-54 +225
  • 55-60 +900

Which Team will Pick the Most Heroes?

  • Virtus Pro +325
  • Team Liquid +375
  • LGD +475
  • Team Secret +825
  • VGJ Storm +1100
  • Newbee +1300
  • Vici Gaming +1500

You can find extensive lists of prop bets, depending upon the event’s popularity and sportsbook. Larger bookmakers offer more prop wagers, because they have more customers who are willing to take these bets.

Finding an Online Sportsbook for Esports Tournament Betting

Knowing how esports tournament gambling works is a great start. But it also pays to have a good understanding on how to choose good betting sites.

You should look at multiple factors before choosing an esports bookmaker. Focusing on the following aspects will help you make an informed decision.

Betting Variety

I’ve covered how you have differing options when it comes to betting on esports tourneys. The number of available options will vary based on the specific sportsbook.

Large bookmakers, such as Bovada, Bet365, and William Hill,do a great job of offering lots of match wagers, outrights, and prop bets. These are excellent sportsbooks to choose when you’re looking for the most esports betting variety.

Smaller sites may offer an adequate number of wagers on a major esports tournaments. But they don’t match larger operations with regard to overall variety.

Trustworthy Sites

Online bookmakers rely on their reputations to keep customers coming back. Of course, some sites are more trustworthy than others in terms of licensing and their history.

Most bookmakers obtain licensing from a jurisdiction, such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Danish Gambling Authority, Curacao eGaming, Antigua, or the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.

A licensing jurisdiction gives sportsbookssomewhere to base their operation and allows them to serve specific countries/territories. Not all jurisdictions are created the same, though, because they can differ on their licensing standards and player protections.

The UKGC is considered the gold standard among internet gaming licensors. They maintain strict licensing standards and closely monitor gaming sites under their umbrella.

Curacao eGaming, on the other hand, isn’t as prestigious of a licensing jurisdiction. Curacao has easier standards for obtaining a license, and they don’t provide much protection for gamblers.

This isn’t to say that bookmakers from lesser licensing jurisdictions are automatically untrustworthy. Instead, it simply means that you should perform more research to make sure they have a good history.

Banking Options

You can deposit at esports sites using a variety of methods, including credit cards, debit cards, ewallets, bank transfers, and cryptocurrencies. Keep in mind that some bookmakers are better than others in terms of banking variety.

The more available options a site offers, the more likely you’ll be able to make a deposit and wager there. This is why it’s important to look at a site’s banking section before worrying about must else.

Here are some common banking options you’ll find across the industry:

  • American Express
  • Bank wire
  • Bitcoin
  • Cheque
  • ClickandBuy
  • Entropay
  • GiroPay
  • Litecoin
  • Maestro
  • MasterCard
  • Neteller
  • Quickpay
  • PayPal
  • Skrill
  • Trustly
  • Visa
  • Visa Electron
  • Western Union

It’s also wise to look at reviews for any perspective bookmaker you’re considering. Doing so gives you an idea on how quickly they process payouts.

Many sites are good at processing withdrawals in a timely manner. But some struggle to accomplish this, which makes them risky choices.

Also note that you may have to provide a photo ID and utility bill upon making your first cashout. The purpose of this is to verify your identity before the site allows you to withdraw money.

Esports Betting Bonus

Many esports gambling sites offer you a welcome bonus. These deals either consist of a free bet or a deposit bonus.

The latter refers to bonuses that offer a match percentage amount based on your deposit. Here’s an example:

  • An esports betting site is offering a 100% match bonus up to $100.
  • You deposit $50.
  • You’re now eligible to earn a $50 bonus.

The key thing to understand is that you must earn esports bonuses by meeting the site’s terms and conditions. Common terms include wagering requirements (a.k.a. playthrough), minimum odds, bet types, and time limits.

Wagering requirements are especially important, because these determine how easy it is for you to collect money from a bonus.

Here’s an example:

  • You qualify for a $25 bonus.
  • Playthrough is 20x the bonus.
  • 20 x 25 = $500 must be bet to release the funds

A free wager is exactly how sounds in that you can make a bet for free. For example, a $25 free wager allows you to risk $25 of the house’s money.

Of course, free bets are just like signup bonuses in that you must meet playthrough and other terms. That said, you should carefully read the T&Cs before going for any esports betting bonus.

Competitive Odds

Most gaming sites are competitive in terms of the esports odds they offer. But you can sometimes gain more value by shopping around for lines.

Here’s an example of a situation where you gain more value at one sportsbook over another:

  • You’re interested in betting onNinjas in Pyjamas to beat MIBR (CSGO).
  • Sportsbook A has odds at:
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas -135
  • MIBR +155
  • Sportsbook B has odds at:
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas -125
  • MIBR +145

You can see that the second bookmaker is offering better odds on Ninjas in Pyjamas. Therefore, you’ve gain value by looking around different sites in this scenario.

You can make this process quicker by choosing several good sites and making deposits at all them. This allows you to jump on a favorable line before it shifts.

Good Customer Support

You’ll eventually have a question or issue if you bet on esports for any considerable amount of time. And you want to deal with knowledgeable customer support when these situations arise.

Customer service is the key aspect of any quality sportsbook. That said, you’ll usually find knowledgeable and friendly support reps.

Unfortunately, some bookmakers don’t take pride in their customer service. These situations can leave you dealing with unfriendly and unhelpful reps.

Customer support is another aspect that you can learn about simply by reading reviews on bookmakers. Any site that’s terrible at dealing with customers will likely be outed by the industry.

Develop a Strategy for Betting on Esports Tournaments

Wagering on esports involves a great deal of strategy. The most-successful gamblers can make long-term profits thanks to their mastery of esports betting.

Of course, nobody is born with the knowledge on how to win money from esports tournaments. Instead, it takes a number of skills to both find and capitalize on good opportunities.

Here are some different skills that you should develop in order to improve your chances of winning with esports betting.


Handicapping is the process of evaluating differentfactors in esports tournaments/matches to find which outcome has the most value.

Some of the aspects that you want to consider in esports handicapping include the opponents, key players, recent performances, and travel schedule.

Most new bettors struggle to accurately handicap matches and tournaments in the beginning. But these are skills that can be learned and mastered over time.

If you can consistently find the most value in tournaments, then you stand a good chance of making long-term profits.

Watch for Esports Line Shifts

Bookmakers craft lines in an effort to draw equal action on all sides. They can then guarantee themselves a profit by taking juice (a.k.a. vigorish) from each wager.

Of course, bookmakers aren’t perfect. Sometimes their opening line draws too much action on one side and requires a shift.

You can gain value by betting on a certain outcome before the odds change. Here’s an example:

  • Liquid has 6.0 odds of winning an LoL tournament.
  • One of their key players is supposed to miss the tourney with an illness.
  • It’s announced on Twitter that the player has recovered and can play.
  • You quickly bet on Liquid before their line moves to 4.5.

Esports lines often shift based on major news. Therefore, it helps if you follow esports reporters on Twitter so that you can catch notableheadlines.

My example shows how one Liquid player was supposed to miss the match due to an illness. But Liquid now has a better chance of winning since the player can compete.


Earlier I covered how there are plenty of major esports tournaments throughout the year. It’s always exciting to wager on these different tourneys – especially when there are lots of fun prop bets offered.

The only problem with all this betting variety, though, is that it can tempt you into making uninformed wagers. A better idea is to specialize in one or two games and their tournaments.

If you fully understand LoL and its fundamentals, for example, then this is a good game to start mastering.

You can learn the top LoL players and teams to form a better picture on good betting opportunities. When the LoL Worlds happen, you stand a better chance of making money off this major event.

Of course, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try branching out into other games at some point. But it’s good to focus on one game before gambling on others.

Additionally, it pays to focus on matches and/or outrights before prop bets. The latter are entertaining, but they’re also harder to handicap than traditional tournament betting.

Esports Bankroll Management

Bankroll management is another crucial aspect of being successful with esports tournaments.

You can go about bankroll management in different ways. But one of the best strategies involves never risking more than 1% of your funds on any single tourney.

Betting on and winning esports tournaments with any degree of consistency is hard, especially when dealing with outrights. You win outrights less often than match wagers, which means you don’t want to risk losingtoo much of your bankroll on each bet.

Here’s an example on how the 1% strategy works:

  • Your bankroll is worth $1,000.
  • 1,000 x 0.01 = 10
  • You should bet $10 on each tournament or other wager.

The only problem with this strategy is that it doesn’t allow you to make much profit when you’re dealing with a small bankroll. But you can at least look forward to large wins whenplacing outright wagers.

The key is to choose a bankroll management strategy that never risks too much of your roll at one time. As long as you do this, you stand a better chance of lasting in esports wagering and eventually making profits.


Tournaments like the Worlds, MSI, and International are premier esports events. And you can make watching these tourneys all the more entertaining by betting on them.

Everything begins with understanding the odds and types of bets offered. The most-common esports tournament bets include match wagers and outrights.

You can also look forward to a wide array of prop bets on the major tourneys. But I suggest proceeding with caution on propositions until you’ve mastered the main wagers.

It’s also important to spend time looking for a quality bookmaker. Read reviews in order to find the best esports betting sites.

You’ll certainly want to go over some strategy before wagering on esports. Handicapping, watching lines, specializing, and bankroll management will all help you become a stronger bettor.

Once you find a good betting site and master the strategy, then you’ll enjoy wagering on esports tournaments all the more.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for since early 2016. ...

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