Some of you will argue about if competitive gaming is a real sport until your face turns blue. However, that does not matter. If there is competition, the money will follow. It really does not matter if we are talking about League of Legends, badminton or baseball, someone will find a way to wager on the outcome or create a fantasy league around the sport.
Daily Fantasy eSports (DFeS) is the progression in which you consider the millions of dollars that will be awarded to the best competitive teams in the world. Since eSports tournaments are filling up the Stadium in Seoul, South Korea and keep attracting sponsorships from Coca-Cola and Monster Energy, it should not surprise you that fantasy sites like Draft Kings and Fanduel are catching a ride on the fantasy eSports wagon. You should note that two providers for fantasy eSports have closed down. The industry shows signs of massive growth, however, it looks like it might be a while until the fantasy leagues that involve eSports catch up.
Daily Fantasy eSports Explained
Competitive gaming does quite well with the fantasy sports model since it involves competitions between teams of currently active competitors. Once you manage to get past the fact that your picks are filled by people who play League of Legends and CS:GO rather than baseball and football, you will find that DFeS works just like normal fantasy sports.
The large fantasy eSports websites host leagues that revolve around the following game tournaments. For instance, you may visit DraftKings and join a contest for $3, in which you will be given a salary of $50,000 that you will spend on 8 people.
If it is for a League of Legends contest, your fantasy eSports roster will consist of 7 players with an additional team slot. You will have to choose a top, jungler, mid, ADC, support and two flex players. After which you will have to choose an entire team to fill your final place.
The prices of the players vary based on their perceived strength entering the tournament. For example, if someone has been on a hot streak lately or is expected to perform good, he will cost more money. Building a good roster is quite challenging since you have to make tough decisions in order to stay within the salary cap.
Now, your DFeS website will monitor the competition and track each of the players’ stats as they compete with their team as well as against other players. As your picks achieve assists, kills, farm and objectives, you earn fantasy points. As you earn more points, you are more likely to win the fantasy league and earn a payout that includes real-money.
How big is it?
It is kind of small when compared to eSports cash betting, item or skin betting. Right now there are an only a few main websites for fantasy eSports:
The 2 initial leaders are Vulcun and AlphaDraft which both shuttered in 2016.
The stakes that are involved tend to be smaller than on traditional sites such as FanDuel.
The annual handle for fantasy eSports is overall likely described in terms of millions of dollars, unlike the billions involved in skin betting.
Why it works
The genre might be relatively small, but we believe that there is a long-term place for fantasy eSports gambling in the eSports industry.
- Engagement: DFeS is a unique product that speaks to the fans that are looking for a bigger involvement than a simple sports bet. DFeS competitions allow players to dive into deeper analysis and engage with their favorite athletes on a bigger level.
- Player vs player: DFeS is peer-to-peer betting, while the other popular forms of gambling are usually player-vs-book.
- Safe entry point: DFeS are innocuous, a familiar template that might serve as a palatable entry point for brands and developers that want to engage with the fans through betting. However, they are concerned about the associations surrounding gambling.
- Deep data: eSports is a data-driven product. Which means that sports products tend to thrive in context.
The size of the spot that fantasy eSports occupy in the landscape for eSports gambling could vary based on several factors:
- Legal challenges – Daily fantasy sports is going to face many challenges in many states. Since state lawmakers are usually not concerned with fantasy esports, if something happens to DFS will also happen to fantasy eSports. We could see that the market shrinks and more states challenge the legality of daily fantasy sports or pass bills that make doing business too expensive for DFS bookmakers.
- Liquidity challenges – Big prize pools are not the only thing that drives a product such as fantasy eSports. However, they certainly help. Moreover, having enough players that participate to make sure that there is quite the choice of the contest for every player is specifically a critical need for any fantasy eSports website. However, since the genre lags a bit behind other formats, we might see the liquidity drop to a point at which growing the product might become challenging.
- Lack of competition – We have already mentioned several times that there are only several websites that offer fantasy eSports. It is possible that the limited competition could stifle innovation, promotional outlay, product development as well as all things that arguably necessary if fantasy sports thrive.
The Games that are Being Played
One of the best things about daily fantasy eSports is that it is quite the dynamic landscape. Old games keep getting updated and new games can be added to the lineup as their popularity grows. The environment is quite more fluid than traditional DFS. The list of the games that are being covered by fantasy eSports sites might change, but here is a look at what is currently popular.
League of Legends: League of Legends is a team-based game. It is a MOBA game or a multiplayer online battle arena. It places two teams of five players against one another. The objective is to advance across the map and destroy the Nexus of the enemy. Every team starts with a kind of weak characters who keep becoming stronger as they kill monsters and other objectives.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: CS:GO, or Counter-Strike Global Offensive is the latest is the newest implementation of the classic FPS which was released back in 1999. Here, there are two teams one of counter-terrorists and one of terrorists, which compete to finish objectives like planting or disarming a bomb. Alternatively, you can win by killing all of the players on the opposing team before the objective is completed. CS:GO fantasy is one of the most popular ones in the world.
Dota 2: Defense of the Ancients 2 is also a MOBA game that kind of resembles a more in-depth variation of League of Legends. Similar to LoL, it takes place in a massive battle arena in which a couple of teams are competing to destroy a crucial structure which is defended by the enemy.
Smite: Smite is another MOBA. However, this one is played from a third-person perspective, which places you in the middle of the action. Players create 2 teams of five players and each player controls a mythological god that they level up to destroy the enemy’s Titan.
Hearthstone: If you have some experience with Magic the Gathering, you will have a basic idea of what Hearthstone is about. It is an online collectible card game in which you have to reduce your opponent’s health to zero using a deck of cards that you have carefully constructed. The deck consists of creatures, weapons and even spells. As a new player, you will start with a set of basic cards to choose from, and you can unlock more powerful and rarer cards through purchases and by completing adventures.
The Rise of eSports
Some of you will make a strong case for daily fantasy eSports being the most amazing development in online gambling. Over the last several years, competitive gaming has gone through a seismic and silent shift from something that was only pursued by the most dedicated players to something that is just starting to attract a massive appeal. The eSports growth is currently catching the notice of huge publication for the first time.
Major news company like ESPN and Forbes have slowly ramped up the coverage of the industry and even particular events such as the League of Legends World Championships. Eilers Research published a paper that predicted north of $23b being gambled on eSports worldwide by 2020. Some of you will think that this is quite the optimistic projection. However, the fact that such organizations are considering such big numbers shows us that something huge will happen with eSports.
The money that is involved with eSports is growing every year since the tournaments pay up to $18 million for the best team. If you look at the best 25 players in eSports, you will see that all of them have earned more than $600, 000 with some of them already taking $2 million. These numbers will increase as the industry grows.
Twitch.tv has played a massive role in spurring the growth of eSports streaming and sponsorship money. Fans tune in to Twitch to watch the best players in the world compete. Note that betting on fantasy eSports is quite exciting, so don’t forget to have fun.