The Importance of Betting Groups within Esports Communities

by Mark Perry
on April 12, 2018

A betting group is a simple idea, and one you’ve likely seen in practice before. The most common form of betting group is a fantasy football league where a group will come together and place a wager, gaining points week by week until a winner is crowned. If you haven’t played fantasy football, it’s worth a try. It’ll likely improve your skill as a bettor.

Esports betting hasn’t quite adapted to the idea of the betting group, but doing so would be a great step forward for the community as a whole. In this article, I’ll break down how a betting group can make you a better bettor, and how betting groups are good for the esports industry.

How Esports Betting Groups are Good for Bettors

Let’s take a quick look at two very different games: Counter Strike and Hearthstone. There are a lot of differences between the two, the biggest being that one is an action game and the other a digital CCG. One of the less obvious differences is that Counter Strike is played with a team. It makes sense that professional Counter Strike would divide into teams, but why is the same true of Hearthstone?

Despite being a single player game, almost every pro Hearthstone player has a team behind them. Part of the reason for this is sponsorships, of course. By becoming part of a team, a Hearthstone player can rest a little easier fiscally. However, being part of a team can also have a positive impact on the player as an individual.

Teams can do a lot of things that a single person can’t.

They have two primary benefits as a unit. The first is backed by the old aphorism, “many hands make for light work.” Consider all the pieces that might go into preparing for an Hearthstone Championship Tournament (HCT). You need to find the best possible deck for the format, learn how to optimally play that deck, get a read of the meta and have the necessary resources to compete. While one single player may never be able to accomplish this, a group can do so quite easily.

Another consideration is that in no competitive esport will there ever be a time where players can act on complete information and perform truly scientific research. A group of 10 players playing for 12 hours a day would get maybe 2,520 reps in, which is on the low end for a decent sample size. Because they can’t possibly perfectly recreate the tournament they’re prepping for, a good portion of those reps may not matter. Because the information is imperfect, a player must act on intuition and opinion.

When a group is formed, those intuitions that are acted upon can be checked against the intuition of other trusted members of the group. Sure, you’ll never know 100% what the outcome will be, but each individual in the group will make decisions from a different angle. With each angle you attack a decision from, your chances of being right increase.

The best part is that even when the group doesn’t reach a consensus each player will improve. Why? Because their thoughts have been exposed to other peoples’ and balanced against them, making the foundation for them stronger. A player may not pivot, but they will gain a greater understanding of their own thinking. More information, even inward information, leads to more wins.

From a distance, this may not seem to apply to betting, but it absolutely does. Betting on esports is a skill, just not one that can always be judged against its results. There are times where a good bet will still lose, and esports bettors need to accept that. If you can accept that, you can accept that you do a play a part in your winnings — and if you are better, they will be, too.

How Esports Betting Groups are Good for Esports

Beyond the people in the group, betting groups are good for the esports community as a whole. By the end of 2019, ESPN expects the esports industry to be worth well over 1 billion dollars. Of course, esports betting has been rising right along with it, having started right as the industry picked up. This leads to a chicken and egg problem: is esports betting making the esports industry more valuable, or is the esports industry making esports betting more valuable?

Unfortunately, the best possible answer is, “it’s complicated.” While esports betting certainly picked up and grew to what it is today because of the esports industry, it seems to feed back. There are no concrete numbers on this, but Mark Cuban spoke on the concept behind it all after the NBA moved to be more open about betting:

“We have always known betting, fantasy leagues and daily [fantasy] sports have driven interest and viewership.  We did everything possible to encourage it while publicly condemning gambling. I’m glad Adam [Silver] is putting the hypocrisy behind us and putting it all up front.”

This leads to one more question which is, of course, “why did they condemn betting in the first place?” As an esports fan, you have reason to be skeptical. Unfortunately, there have been incidents in esports in the past where a team at a high-level event threw a game to make money from a bet. This isn’t quite unique to esports, as evidenced by the controversy surrounding Pete Rose.

The good news is that being more open about letting betting into the community can help with that. As you can see, after the NBA pulled back the veil and revealed how it feels about betting, they have been able to regulate and legitimize the betting surrounding the game. It would be slightly more difficult for esports to do the same, but if done it may speed the industry along just a little further. Since opening up to betting, the NBA has seen its highest ratings since 2010. The same relationship should be reasonably true of the NFL and Draft Kings, however poor policies by the NFL alongside politicization have taken a toll on their ratings.

Betting leads to an increase in viewership time after time, and betting groups can double down on this even more. The NFL has made decisions that have unfortunately made numbers unclear, but I’m sure you can agree with my anecdotal evidence here: when a person who is indifferent, or even a fan of football, enters a fantasy league, they develop a visceral love for the game.

They develop this love not only because they get to participate in viewing, but because they now get to become embroiled in the game. The stakes feel high. There’s something to get excited for, something to talk trash about. The game becomes real. People can get a good hit of that energy just by placing a bet, but bringing friends a long amplifies the feeling.


Betting groups only increase this love. When a person is involved in a betting group, they are truly embroiled in the game: its community, its stakes and its air of excitement. By allowing people to not only communicate in the larger community, but to also become part of a tight knit, personal community, betting groups turn a hobby into a passion. This is the secret behind fantasy football leagues: they not only increase the desire for someone to watch football, but give them a reason to. Betting might bring people to esports, but betting groups give them a reason to stay.

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