Worldwide businesses are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic we’re all dealing with. The virus has affected all types of operations. One of the highlights of the situation is the cancellation of all major sports leagues, be it NBA, NHL or MLB. But in the light of all these events, one type of entertainment still continues through all this chaos, esports.
Esports betting sites accounted for over $500m in 2019 and is set to account for up to 3x as much by 2023, reports multiple esports betting sites and Newzoo case studies.
We have seen it first in China. Even though the LPL, China’s regional League of Legends competition was paused in early January, it very quickly switched to online mode, which allowed the competition to continue without any necessary risks involved. In some way, esports is coming a little bit back to their roots, where online tournaments were the bread and butter of the competition. And not only that esports continue to operate, at the moment they are stronger than ever.
With many people sitting at home, esports’ events continue to be one of the regular things remaining to be seen. Even more importantly, esports’ viewers, mostly sitting at home, are very used to watching events on Twitch or Youtube, so it’s not a big change for them. Looking at Europe, we see that the LEC League of Legends was briefly paused to prepare the online solution, while CSGO tournaments like the Flashpoint, ESL pro League or ESEA continue almost as if nothing happened.
Pavol Krasnovsky, CEO of esports analytics company RTSmunity, commented on the situation: “Even before the current crisis, many betting operators realised that it is time to redefine their opinion regarding significance of Esports in their sportsbook offer. With all major sports events and leagues being cancelled or rescheduled, esports are becoming
main target of punters, all around the world. In upcoming months, esports offer will become one of the main deciding factors in punter´s choice of bookmakers.” On top of that, we see very quick reactions from well-known brands like the NBA teams, which decided to offer at least competitive matches in NBA2K when they can’t play the sport itself. Another example can be the Australian Grand Prix, which was cancelled but ultimately resulted in heated esports battle between F1 drivers and other sports stars like Thibaut Courtois – to fill the void, they decided to race in an esports event and to show the people what esports are about.
Even looking at FIFA, football teams globally have been playing online against each other. And even th betting market is adapting with many going to FIFA betting sites to bet on their favorite teams.
Hand in hand with sports is also one industry – the betting industry. With many classic sports events cancelled, esports are now a shining beacon of content and product offers. Considering the already fast acceleration of the esports betting market, the whole coronavirus situation can be seen as a sort of “when life gives you lemons, just make a lemonade” moment.
Aside from the fact that there is still a huge amount of events to bet on, there are also many new viewers and punters watching very closely to see what esports are about. And what they will see is mainly this – esports are innovative, very dynamic and able to adapt very easily. To make it possible to adapt for sportsbook operators, they need to act now, because very soon, the migration of punters will be done, and they will very quickly realize who has the most comprehensive offer.