A Beginner’s Guide to Esports

min read
Top-down view of various gaming accessories, colorfully illuminated, laying on a table.
BetMGM Nov 16, 2023, 9:29 AM

Whether you’re a fan of online casino games or enjoy online sports betting, chances are you’ve come across esports. With 474 million fans across the globe, the fast-growing industry is garnering its fair share of attention. Competitive video gaming is turning committed and skilled gamers into highly successful stars, selling out massive stadiums and seeing millions of dollars worth of prize money and brand endorsements.

So what exactly is esports, how do you get involved, and what do you need to know about it? Read on to find out all that and more.

What is Esports?

Esports (short for electronic sports) refers to competitive video gaming. Unlike casual video games that are played purely for entertainment, esports games are played by professional, competitive players against other esports pros. Many of these games have a huge audience, similar to traditional sports. 

Like traditional sports, esports is about competition and takes the form of organized, multiplayer video game competitions between professional players, either individually or as teams. There are fixed rules and players have coaches, teams, and managers. Games are broadcast online via streaming platforms like Twitch, and some tournaments even allow for a live audience, with big events booking out venues like LA’s Staples Center.

Types of Games

There are four main categories that competitive video games fall under, all of which require incredible amounts of skill, razor-sharp reflexes, and teamwork. These are strategy games, which include multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games and real-time strategy (RTS) games, first-person shooter (FPS) games, fighting games, and sports games.

Strategy Games

Real-time strategy games enable players to control units to react to events as the game progresses. They usually include resources and building mechanics to create further challenges. The most popular of these types of games are Warcraft III and StarCraft II

Multiplayer online battle arena games are a subgenre of RTS games and are the most popular competitive video games in terms of both viewership and prizes. In these games, each player controls a single character and works together with their team to take out their opponent’s base while defending their own from their opponent’s attacks. Each character, or champion, within a team, has a unique set of skills and equipment, and teams need to be balanced in terms of character makeup and contribution. 

First-Person Shooters

First-person shooter games revolve around weapon-based combat. As the name suggests, the game is seen through the eyes of the character and involves either teams or individuals competing against each other. These include classic franchises like Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, and Rainbow Six, alongside more recent titles in the battle royale genre like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PlayerUnknown: Battlegrounds.

Many classic FPS games take on a more realistic approach, usually with two small teams equipped with real-world weaponry each aiming to achieve specific goals in a match. However, the battle royale genre involves large numbers of players, either playing solo or in small teams, competing in the same session in a “last man standing” game mode where players are out of the game once they die, making these types of games, particularly strategic, competitive, and exciting.

Fighting Games

Fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and the Street Fighter series focus on individual players’ tactics and skills in round-based matches. Players face off against each other in one-on-one matches with the aim of depleting their opponent’s life bar using punches, kicks, and other special moves. Win enough rounds against your opponent, and the match is yours! These games have been around since the early days of arcade gaming, but it was considered a dying genre (particularly 2D-style fighting games) until Street Fighter IV came along and helped revive interest in the genre.

Sports Games

Sports games allow players to take control of sports players, teams, and management and play out their own matches and seasons against either the game itself or other players. Popular titles center around already established leagues such as FIFA, NHL, and so on. This is a popular genre amongst virtual sports fans. Despite being based on real sports, most esports based on real sports are actually one-on-one affairs, with players switching control between all of their virtual team members in order to beat their opponent.

Esports Tournaments and Live Streaming

Competitive video gaming tournaments host a similar setup to traditional sports leagues and tournaments – these are organized events with live broadcasting, commentators, packed stadiums, and millions of fans watching from around the world on platforms like Twitch, YouTube Live, and Facebook.

There is a uniquely structured system within the industry where players organize themselves by specific games, which are then regulated and run by larger leagues and tournaments. Teams are organized based on their geographic location, focusing on specific countries or continents.

Each game holds multiple tournaments each year, which generally have almost double the number of viewers as regular-season events. Each game also has its own season and playoffs to determine an annual champion.

Streaming sites provide the chance for professional gamers to reach millions of fans in real time. This means increased interactions with fans for individuals and real-time engagements with viewers during matches and tournaments. According to “The Incredible Growth of eSports” on influencermarketinghub.com, the live gaming audience grew by 11.7% in 2020 and a further 10% in 2021 – that’s 728.8 million viewers!

Betting on Esports

According to insight from a 2019 article by Inside World Football, esports are becoming popular with spectators. The article states that “at least 40% of spectators have not played in the video games they watch”, making these competitive video games just as prevalent in the online sports betting world as more traditional sports like football and basketball. 

If you’re looking for esports betting tips, there are two ways to go about it. First, like traditional sports, spectators can place their bets on a team or player at many online casinos by wagering money against set odds in matchups. League of Legends accounts for 40% of competitive video gaming wagers, followed by Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at 29%, making them the two most popular betting options. The second way of gambling happens within the games themselves. Players can gamble with in-game rewards, such as character outfits and cosmetics, weapon skills, and so on. 

Whether you’re a longtime fan of video games but new to sports betting, or a seasoned punter who’s just been introduced to professional gaming, it’s important to choose a trustworthy betting platform, do your research on games, players, and teams, and get to know the playing field before placing your wagers.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.