It should come as no surprise that with esports growing year after year in regards to participants, viewers, and revenue, so too is the world of fantasy esports becoming more popular. Much like traditional fantasy sports, fans build an eight-player fantasy league lineup of the best players in the world in-game, adhere to strict rules of a salary cap, trade players, and track points over the course of a game’s season to determine a winner.
The growth of esports has been steady since 1998, where StarCraft dominated the competitive gaming scene and $7.8 million were awarded in prizes across 536 tournaments. Those numbers pale by comparison today, and esports revenue is projected to reach $1.8 billion annually by 2022. With that kind of money circulating, and a broader range of games in the esports scene, it was only a matter of time before esports fantasy leagues began gaining traction. The video below shows the massive crowd participation at an event from 2016, for those who may doubt the popularity of esports.
DraftKings, the world’s largest daily fantasy sports (DFS) operator, offers a breakdown of how their registered users use their systems to create and operate fantasy leagues. They state that of their eight million registered users, NFL leagues are the most popular creations, followed by the NBA, international football, and MLB.
Esports meanwhile occupies a small percentage of their overall business model, but has seen massive gains year after year. For example, League of Legends grew 59% in 2017, and saw a similar trend in 2018. As esports grows and becomes further ingrained in our culture, we can also expect to see wagering develop just as it does with traditional sports, casino bookmarks and all.
The prospect of gambling is already one that is troublesome, particularly for those who throw professional matches to win bets, as seen recently with the investigation and arrest in Australia of an entire team for CS:GO.
Some developers see the potential of such fantasy leagues, and incorporate the tools necessary to operate on their own and offer rewards to the winning players with the highest scores at the end of the season. Clash Royale recently brought back its popular Fantasy Royale, and speculation is high that this will soon become a permanent in-game feature, which would grant the developer full control of the operation and negate the need to use a third party like DraftKings.
As for legal betting on the outcome of esports, fans can head over to FanDuel Sportsbook in East Rutherford, New Jersey, or to DraftKings’ online book to place a bet. As esports continue to grow, and the demographic that has grown up with competitive video games gains disposable income, we are sure to see an increase in the wagers made relating to the outcome of these matches.