CS:GO Skin Betting Handle Tops $30 Million Over First Four Weeks Of ELEAGUE

Written By Will Green on June 20, 2016 - Last Updated on August 30, 2022

[toc]ELEAGUE betting trends are beginning to emerge now that four weeks of skin wagering data on the Turner / WME IMG upstart are in the books.

The figures obtained by ESBR appear to illustrate a plateauing of skins betting on the average match, and underscore the idea that betting volume is correlated to television and online viewership.

ELEAGUE skins wagering approaches $33 million in handle

Since the ELEAGUE debuted on May 24, bettors have wagered a total of 3.38 million skins across all matches on CS:GO Lounge, the largest skins betting site by far.

After analyzing a recent sample of 200,000 skins, ESBR determined that the average value of skins as they’re currently being traded on third-party sites is $9.75.

Using that multiplier, the total ELEAGUE handle on CS:GO Lounge amounts to just under $33 million, over a total of 60 matches thus far.

That equates to an average handle of approximately $550,000 per match, based on an average of 56,336 skins wagered per match.

Skins wagering involves esports enthusiasts, often players themselves, wagering purely cosmetic items on the outcome of esports matches, such as those played in the ELEAGUE. The items decorate weapons such as guns and knives and have a convertible, real-world monetary value.

These items, called skins, only trade in USD on third-party sites, such as OPSkins, where players can buy or sell skins for cash. These unregulated third-party sites are what allow CS:GO skins to be a cash-liquid market, and what ultimately set prices.

Ninjas in Pyjamas, G2 eSports set records

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The June 3 Group B final between Ninjas In Pyjamas and G2 eSports was the most bet-on match in the ELEAGUE’s short history. 58,276 people wagered 179,577 skins, approximating a handle of $1.75 million on the match.

That skin total represents the 15th-largest amount of skins wagered on any CS:GO contest in 2016 on CS:GO Lounge. That might not seem especially noteworthy, but the lounge accepts action on more than 5,000 CS:GO matches annually, putting the betting handle on that Ninjas-G2 match in the top third of the top one percent of all CS:GO matches on the lounge this year.

Friday night’s Group D final between Fnatic and FaZe was the second-most bet-on ELEAGUE match by skin volume, with over 115,000 skins wagered.

While group finals matches often produce the biggest handle, two of the top five most-wagered matches were not group finals. That included the Cloud 9 vs. Renegades Group A semifinal match, which was the third-most wagered on match in the ELEAGUE so far.

Likely owing in part to the brand popularity of each team, even one of the early-week NiP-G2 matches exceeded 100,000 skins wagered, a mark no other early-week match has come close to. (It was not a best-of-three match, but a one-game contest during the week’s preliminary competition.) 

The higher-profile the match, the more bets come in

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Unsurprisingly, the matches with the biggest promotional build-up and exposure (e.g., the nationally televised group finals on TBS) have so far delivered the biggest wagering handles.

On average, group finals matches have an average of 117,276 skins wagered on them, with a handle regularly exceeding $1 million dollars. Semifinal matches take around 58,000 skins per match, while Tuesday and Wednesday one-game affairs average just shy of 51,000 skins wagered. 

One factor demonstrating that the hype surrounding finals matches contributes to the size of a handle? For every ELEAGUE group finals pairing on Fridays, the round-robin matches involving those same two teams earlier in the week have taken any where between 20,000 and 70,000 fewer skins on the handle than their Friday matchup.

Betting handle size correlated to TBS viewership

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Just as ratings for TBS weekly Friday night ELEAGUE group finals broadcast have fluctuated, so too have betting totals for group finals. In fact, the relationship between ratings and betting handle size appears so far to be significantly correlated.

Charting total TV audience and total skins wagered on a double-y-axis graph allows us to observe the relationship between the two variables. When TBS’ total audience jumped over 50 percent from Week 1 to Week 2, skins betting jumped 80 percent week-over-week. Similarly, when viewership plummeted 60 percent for the ill-fated Group C final in Week 3 between Astralis and SK (the game was up against the NBA Finals, after all), betting plummeted 58 percent week-over-week.

This reinforces the idea long held across traditional sports betting that exposure is proportional to betting activity and handle size. Just as wagering drives viewership either online or on television, the reverse can also be true.

Average skin-betting volume waning slightly

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For all of the impressive handle figures trotted out thus far, the average amount of skins wagered per match actually appears to be plateauing, or even slightly decreasing.

After a tiny bump in Week 2, which was far and away ELEAGUE’s most successful week by both viewership and wagering metrics, the average amount of skins wagered dropped from around 60,000 per match to the 52,000-53,000 skins-per-match range.

Week 5 and Week 6 matches will feature heavyweight CS:GO teams like Ukranian giant Natus Vincere, Russian squad Virtus.pro, and high-profile American upstarts Echo Fox and EnVyUs. Those matches certainly have the capability to boost betting activity.

It’s unclear what proportion of betting activity on CS:GO matches is coming from Asian markets, American ones or Eastern European ones. A recent report by Narus Advisors and Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated that roughly eight percent of the global handle of an average esports match comes from American markets. That percentage could be slightly higher with the ELEAGUE due to the league’s higher than normal exposure in North American markets.

American esports fans engaged passionately with the ELEAGUE during U.S. team Cloud9’s near-upset of star-studded team Luminosity in Week 1, both in studio and online. Those fans likely played some role in the high level of betting engagement on the teams’ Group A semifinal and final matches.

Comparing ELEAGUE wagering with other CS:GO leagues

We’ll update this data again once applicable numbers are available for all six weeks of preliminary group stage ELEAGUE action.

ESBR will also be providing a detailed look at not only the growth or contraction of ELEAGUE wagering activity, but also how that activity compares to wagering on other CS:GO leagues.

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