That shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows the esports scene, as they’ll know that we have the final lineup and groups for the 2016 League of Legends World Championship.
While later on in the month that event will be joined by a ton of other tournaments, it’s going to overshadow things for a good while until it concludes in Los Angeles on Oct. 29.
What’s on offer at the esports bookmakers?
Betting-wise it’s all good in the hood, with Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive bets on offer on top of the League of Legends market.
The esports betting page at SkyBet has stayed afloat after the brief and puzzling disappearance in August. One might even say it’s back with a vengeance, given the large number of bets available on the various upcoming esports matches.
There’s not a lot of changes to report from Unikrn this week, which is perfectly fine considering how solid its esports betting offer is. The site has hit the ground running with League of Legends World Championship outrights anyway, marking ROX Tigers as runaway favorites.
It’s Bet365 that boasts the most markets for the event of the month, the (guess what) League of Legends World Championship.
On top of the outrights, Bet365 has the group bets, regional bets, team vs field, player of the tournament and the winner’s group bets. Good stuff, lads.
The latest development from Pinnacle is a slight redesign of the esports betting site, including a lot of helpful links for newcomers to the world of esports game betting.
The site is still pretty lacking in a lot of areas, though; there are quite a few out-of-date markets on the site.
PaddyPower, Coral and Ladbrokes
The selection at PaddyPower is never stunning, but damn if it isn’t consistently decent and thoroughly on the ball. The site has immediately thrown up group, region and outright winners for League of Legends – a selection of bets that actually puts Pinnacle ahead of Unikrn.
Ladbrokes still has FIFA 17 bets dominating its page, which suits its market down to the ground.
The less said about Coral, the better…[show-table name=betway]
The week in esports events
The action is beginning to heat up this month, with a host of events set to explode onto the scene at the same time of the League of Legends World Championship.
While this week isn’t especially exciting, the end of September is going to be a great time to be an esports fan.
All quiet on the western front for Dota 2 players (until The Summit 6, that is). At the end of this month, Xiamen, China will play host to the MarsTV Dota 2 League autumn event but it looks like The International 6 hangover is still in effect.
League of Legends
As you may have ascertained from the headline and opening paragraph today, this was the big one this week and will continue to dominate esports headlines for a good while yet. We’re now looking ahead to the group stages at San Francisco’s 7,000-seat Bill Graham Civic Auditorium later this month.
Just yesterday, Ninjas in Pyjamas won the $130,000 first prize in the StarLadder i-League StarSeries, and it’s an action-packed few weeks for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive fans. Romania plays host to DreamHack Bucharest and a $100,000 prize pool; after that, we’re off to New York for the ESL One and $250,000.
Heroes of the Storm
No action this week for Heroes of the Storm, but keep holding your breath until the end of the month when Seoul, South Korea plays host to the finals of the Super League 3 and delivers a ₩20 million ($154,000) prize pool to three top teams.
The World Cyber Series Copa Intercontinental took place in Mexico City just this past weekend, with Snute defeating Showtime 4-2 to take the $50,000 first prize.
Next up, Starcraft fans have the 2016 KeSPA Cup to look forward to in Seoul on Sept. 27.
Blizzard’s game is still as popular as ever, but once again we must play the waiting game for the Overwatch Open Grand Finals and its $300,000 prize pool in Atlanta – that event kicks off on Sept. 25.
Nothing major to report in the world of Hearthstone 2 this week, but head to Bucharest in a few days’ time and you’ll see a few teams competing for $25,000 in the PGL Tavern Tales.
The announcement of another organization to manage esports competition is nothing new, but the Professional Esports Association (PEA) offers a different model for managing the business of esports.
The PEA Commissioner, Jason Katz explains:
“The PEA represents something new in eSports – an association of top teams running their own league and sharing the profits and the decision-making with the players. This has been the architecture of traditional major sports leagues for many decades, but it is a new evolution for eSports. This will allow us to finally build a stable, healthy, long-term environment for the players, the community, the media and the sponsors.”
- The PEA press release can be found here.
Seven top US teams are founding members
The North American esports teams that have managed to agree on the structure of the PEA to become its founding members are:
- Team SoloMid (TSM)
- Team Liquid
- Counter Logic Gaming
- NRG Esports
- CompLexity Gaming
They will take part in a 10-week league playing CS:GO matches twice a week. The first season will guarantee a minimum of $500,000 in prize money, with $1 million guaranteed for season two.
League profits shared with teams and players
Part of the motivation for founding the PEA is to create a more equitable share of the financial rewards created by esports competition.
Andy Dinh, CEO of TSM stated:
“It’s time for leagues to share the rewards and strategic decisions with the players, and the best way for team organizations to do that is for us to do it ourselves. The PEA is a vehicle for us to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the players, doing what we all love.”
The PEA will distribute profits 50/50 to players and owners and “each caster will receive a share equal to a player.” Players will also receive other financial benefits including retirement and investment planning and health insurance.
Competition formats, playing rules and prize distribution structures will be decided by a Rules Committee which will include player representatives, and there will be a Grievance Committee also involving players, that will decide on any complaints.
“This marks the end of the ‘Wild West’ days of eSports,” said Jack Etienne, Cloud9 CEO. “The community and players want stability and dependability. Leagues come and go, teams join them and depart, but with the PEA, the teams are making a long-term commitment to be here, playing for the fans, for the indefinite future.”
The WESA has similar aims
In May this year, the World Esports Association (WESA) was founded under the aegis of ESL.
The WESA’s mission makes it clear that it too wants to share the benefits with teams and players:
“WESA’s mission is to become the global benchmark for industry-wide standards through that framework, involved parties and activities of the Association. Starting with the ESL Pro League for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, WESA will be the first organization in the history of esports that will bring those affected by its decision most, to the decision making table.
Transparency towards Teams and Players, as well as a continuous support to them are at the heart of the Association.”
At this point in the development of the esports industry, it is natural to see attempts to develop formal structures within which esports competitions take place.
Allied businesses such as esports betting operators need such formal structures, which can ensure game integrity and fairness in order for their own businesses to grow.
Mainstream broadcasters need to know which leagues and which games are going to attract the biggest audiences—there can’t be the equivalent of an esports Super Bowl without such organization.
However, like the internet boom of the 1990s, there will be many market entrants and only a few will succeed.
WESA and the PEA both present some attractive features, but both lack the direct involvement of the major games producers such as Riot Games and Blizzard Activision.
Critical differences between esports and traditional sports
Most observers drawing a distinction between esports and traditional sports focus on the difference between sitting at a computer and getting out on a sports field, but the more important differentiator is that there is no intellectual copyright on traditional sports whereas there is for esports.
There is no game developer behind tennis who can control the rules of the game and who must be paid—at least in some form—by a league organization that wants to organize sporting competitions.
League of Legends competitions could be killed instantly if Riot Games changed the terms and conditions of its software licenses. The game developers are in a position of absolute power over the development of public competitions that depend on their products.
Developer involvement critical to any formal governing organization
Splitting financial benefits 50/50 between teams and players sounds great in theory, but there isn’t any percentage in there for the game developers.
As the “wild west” environment changes, and some leagues emerge as the main competitions for esports professionals, game developers will begin to look for their share of the financial action.
It seems inevitable that the ultimate winner in the apparently free market competition for organizing esports must have the support of the major games developers. If the PEA aims to expand its model to the wider esports industry, it should look to bring in the game developers at an early stage.
The choice of Jason Katz as the first Commissioner will help; he used to be in charge of strategic initiatives at Riot Games.