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IEM Cologne 2021: how major events increase the popularity of esports betting



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IEM Cologne is one of 2021’s best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments. This newsworthy event brings together 24 teams from all around the world, has a $1 million prize pool and three stages of play.

Counter-Strike is flourishing

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the fourth game in the Counter-Strike series of games. As with its forerunners, the game is a multiplayer first-person shooter in which two teams (Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists) compete against each other in various game modes.

Just imagine, the first release of Counter-Strike was published on November 9, 2000. This game has existed for more than 20 years. Even though the last game in the Counter-Strike series Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was released nearly 9 years ago, in August 2012, the game is still top-rated online and has millions of fans.

According to Statista, as of February 2020, Counter-Strike had 24 million monthly active users, more than double the figure from May 2016. In May 2021, CS:GO reached more than one million concurrent players on Steam.


More than just a game

And what’s interesting is, it’s not just a game for millions of gamers, but for watchers of esports content too, of course. ELEAGUE Major, which took place in January 2018, was the most-watched CS:GO tournament that year, reaching nearly 1.9 million viewers. With such a large number of supporters, it is par for the course that CS:GO competitions are worth big money.

The game’s annual cumulative tournament prize pool reached $21.77M in 2019. And in 2020, the estimated prize money for CS:GO tournaments stood at $15.85M, making it the online game with the highest cumulative prize pool in that year.

Gamers are not short of attention and cash rewards. For instance, the Danish gamer, a member of Astralis, Andreas Højsleth, known by his online alias, Xyp9x, has earned over $1.88M playing CS:GO competitively. Currently, he is in second place in the earnings table for players of CS:GO. Another Danish player, Peter Rasmussen, who goes by the alias dupreeh, occupies the first spot with around $1.91M.


CS:GO betting

Professional gaming quickly became a matter of interest to sportsbooks. Today, as reported by iGB, the most popular esports betting titles fall under two categories. The first includes the “Big Three”: League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. They’re also some of the most popular video games globally.

The growth of popularity of these games turned the attention of the majority of sportsbooks. Global betting operators are widening their portfolio with popular online PC games. Some of the most popular CS:GO events are commercial CS:GO tournaments with 24/7 schedules that allow sportsbooks to fill free airtime with engaging content.

Betting on commercial CS:GO events works the same way as betting on major CS:GO events. Bettors wager on various markets: the outcome of a match, top-performing players, final scores, etc.

One of the platforms that provide fast and dynamic 24/7 esports tournaments is ESportsBattle. It is worth noting that the organizers of ESportsBattle CS:GO tournaments have noticed the huge spike in bettors’ engagement rate in the run-up to big matches.


ESportsBattle & CS:GO

Because of increased global demand, ESportsBattle decided to expand its horizons and became the first platform to launch 1×1 CS:GO matches, guaranteeing beginner players an opportunity to have a shot at it. Earlier, ESportsBattle had only a 5×5 format and later became the first to offer 2×2 CS:GO matches.

This variety of formats and modes allows pro and amateur players to face off in EsportsBattle tournaments, develop their skills, and make money on it.

For bettors of  EsportsBattle CS:GO tournaments, operators  provide the following markets: match winner (2-way or 3-way), match handicap, total maps, correct map score, map winner (2-way and 3-way), total rounds.

During July 2021, when IEM Cologne 2021 took place, ESportsBattle CS:GO matches chalked up far more views, which, in turn, led to increased bettor engagement. The number of views of ESportsBattle tournaments has risen dramatically: from 120K in June to almost 200K in July.

Furthermore, the number of views increased by 73% from the beginning of 2021. Betting on CS:GO gives bettors a chance to feel even more engaged in the whole IEM Cologne 2021 experience, as though they are participating in the tournament.

Thanks to regular broadcasts of esports events that boosted the gaming, esports and betting markets began to enjoy particular popularity. Moreover, one of the betting operator stated that there was almost 40% uptake in the number of active bettors engaged with EsportsBattles’ CS:GO events between June and July. Since the beginning of 2021, the number of people betting on EsportsBattle CS:GO events has increased by 10,000%.


Fnatic Appoints Stuart Brown as Esports Operations Lead



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Fnatic, the leading esports performance organisation, has appointed Stuart Brown as its first-ever Esports Operations Lead.

The role will see Brown tasked with promoting best-in-class team management and see him act as a lynchpin between Fnatic’s London headquarters and teams across Fnatic’s six esports game titles.

Brown, who joins Fnatic from The Football Association (The FA), will look to enhance various aspects of professional gaming experience at Fnatic, from performance planning and nutrition to travel and accommodation. Working to continue to integrate Fnatic’s esports teams within the wider organisation, he will oversee and enable collaboration with other business units such as Product and Partnerships.

He will also work closely with Fnatic’s High Performance Unit and Team Managers to continuously improve performance outcomes for teams and give Fnatic’s players the edge in competition. Additionally, he will support the rollout of Fnatic’s recently released Global Safeguarding Policies, which promote and protect the wellbeing of young people and adults at risk who interact with Fnatic.

“Fnatic are deeply committed to continuous improvement. I’m excited to bring my experience from the world of traditional sports and fuse that with the innovation and opportunity in the esports space – to find the extra 1% for Fnatic’s teams. I’m looking forward to continuing to professionalise Fnatic’s backroom functions and further integrating our esports teams with the wider company,” Stuart Brown, Esports Operations Lead at Fnatic, said.

Brown brings a wealth of experience from the world of traditional sport, having spent 12 years at The FA. Most recently, Brown led the England Senior Football squad as Team Manager, where he was responsible for all operational, financial and administrative matters relating to the team, including during the Russia World Cup and the recent Euro 2021 campaign. During his time at The FA he also worked as part of the International Relations team, delivering football development projects in countries such as Rwanda.

“We’re very excited to have Stuart on board to play a key role in levelling up our operations as well as facilitating the drive for high-performance across our esports division. Having worked with elite national teams in football, Stuart’s experience will be invaluable to unlock another level of improvements, which builds on our work in the High Performance Unit. Stuart will also champion the roll-out of our player wellbeing initiatives and Global Safeguarding Policies,” Sam Mathews, CEO at Fnatic, said.

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eSports roster for PGL Major Stockholm 2021



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Our first CS:GO roster will be changed for the upcoming Major in Stockholm: Evgeny “FL1T” Lebedev will replace Sanjar “SANJI” Kuliev.

Sergey Glamazda, CEO:

“The Major is the biggest event in CS:GO, the one we’ve been waiting for two years. It’s incredibly important for the club and our fans. We want to achieve the best possible result, and in order to do so the team needs a new impulse. An opportunity to play with Evgeny arose and we decided to seize it. We hope that this will be the impulse we need to play at the peak of our abilities.

No decisions regarding the future of our roster have been made for now. Everything will be clear after the Major when the dust is settled. I want to thank Sanjar. We’ve won tournaments, got into the top-3 of HLTV rankings, and qualified for the Major with him being in our ranks. Our current roster has already achieved a lot and this temporary change should help us reach even higher goals that we set for ourselves.”

Updated roster at PGL Major Stockholm 2021:

Dzhami «Jame» Ali;

Timur «buster» Tulepov;

Aleksey «Qikert» Golubev;

Mareks «YEKINDAR» Gaļinskis;

Evgeny «FL1T» Lebedev.

Dastan «dastan» Akbaev (coach).

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Tourism & Sports Ministry, SAT and Garena Signs MoU to Support and Enhance Esports Industry in Thailand



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The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) and the Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sports have partnered with Garena Online Thailand to strengthen the domestic esports industry and develop the country as the hub of esports tournaments in Asean.

“The ministry and the SAT will focus more on esports next year including training and welfare to develop the esport ecosystem after esports was named in the Royal Gazette last month as one of the country’s professional sports,” Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said.

The esports industry across Asean was worth US$39 million in 2020 and is expected to grow to $72 million by 2024 as people spend more time playing online games amid the pandemic, according to the minister.

A boom in esports does not only benefit internet providers or IT products, but also consumer product makers which target millennials, sport tourism, and investment in the country, he said.

Mr Phiphat said Thailand is due to take part in the biggest esports event, Arena of Valor (RoV) International Championship 2021 (AIC 2021), with a prize pool of $1 million, at the end of next month, which could help the country prepare to serve as the future regional hub for esports competition.

SAT governor Kongsak Yodmanee said the agency has recently established the SAT Esports Academy to train RoV players participating in the upcoming Road to AIC 2021, a tournament that selects esports teams for AIC 2021.

Kongsak said there are 12 members from two esport teams that are preparing for the match under the supervision of the SAT, which provides support for physical training, nutrition and sports psychology.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry, the SAT and Garena signed a memorandum of understanding to support and enhance the esports industry in Thailand.

“Even though Thailand is not the biggest esports market in Asia, investors and stakeholders perceive the country as a potential market thanks to the readiness of the ecosystem and official recognition from the government,” Allen Hsu, regional head of strategic partnership and esports development at Garena Online Thailand, said.

Thailand is the first country where foreign football clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Valencia have invested in the RoV Pro League, which showed the country’s potential for esports, he said.

He said 2022 will be the year for esports as many tournaments will take place in Thailand and overseas, particularly the SEA Games and Asian Games, where esports have become a medal sport and could gain more recognition.

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