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Dota 2

Pair Of Dota 2 Players Banned For Two Years For Match Fixing

Dustin Gouker October 13, 2017

A pair of Dota 2 players from team Dx have received two-year bans for alleged match fixing, as a result of their play in an event held in September.

The bans came as a result of an investigation by the Uprise Champions Cup (UCC), the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) and sports data and monitoring company Sportradar.

More on the Dota 2 bans

According to a release from the ESIC, Leonid “Sonic” Kuzmenkov and Dmitri “Ax.Mo” Morozov received bans after their play in the World Cyber Arena (WCA) European Qualifiers for the CIS region. (The UCC organized the event, hence its involvement.)

According to the ESIC, the investigation came “following rumours and concerns” about a Dota 2 match involving the two players against the team Yellow Submarine. Sportradar Integrity Services undertook the investigation, using its data on global patterns on the match.

Further details on the investigation were not made available. However, the ban implies that the ESIC and Sportradar concluded the two players sought to influence the match in some way, for betting purposes.

“It is always depressing to see young esports athletes succumb to the temptations that matchfixing presents,” ESIC Commissioner Ian Smith said in speaking about the decision. “But I remain hopeful that this decision will send a powerful deterrent message to esports athletes across the various titles and tournaments – that ESIC are more than happy to follow up questions and concerns around matches, even when those matches do not fall under our existing coverage partnerships.”

“Sportradar’s fully tailored Fraud Detection System was on hand to help us get to the bottom of the betting patterns globally and off the back of that, we have been able to underline our commitment to clean and credible esports.”

Monitoring is working in esports

Even though the event in question was not necessarily a major one, it shows that monitoring of esports betting patterns should be a deterrent for match fixing moving forward.

The more prizes there are for an esports event, the less tempting it should be, in theory, to attempt to fix a match. Risking a long-term ban for the short-term “reward” of money from a fixed match should increasingly make less sense for even lower-level pros, if they know they’ll get caught.

“We have worked with Ian and his team for a few years now, focusing on prevention and education to help ensure players and their entourages can avoid the pitfalls that fixers put around them,” James Watson, head of esports at Sportradar said in the release. “But sometimes it is our monitoring and detection expertise that is called upon, as it was here.

As a keen and committed member of the esports community, I am grateful that, together with my team at Sportradar and with ESIC, we can work with UCC to send a clear message to fixers and the wider community about how seriously we all take this issue.”

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Not a lifetime ban?

Fixing a match is generally a serious violation in any sport. And in many traditional sports, it could (or likely would) result in a lifetime ban.

But the ESIC and ESL recently came to the conclusion that lifetime bans for activities such as cheating were “inappropriate.” That apparently extends to attempting to fix matches.

It brings up the question if a two-year ban is enough, although second transgressions would likely result in a lifetime ban. Still, being cut out of playing an esport for two years is a huge dent in a player’s career as it is. And being caught should discourage them from ever trying it again, should they return to the competitive scene.

Artificial Intelligence Beating Pros In Dota 2 Could Pose ‘Devastating’ Threat To Esports

September 6, 2017

The news that an artificial intelligence bot has for the first time beaten top Dota 2 professionals in one-versus-one games has serious implications for the esports world and has the potential to disrupt the nascent betting scene in incalculable ways, according to an expert in gaming innovation.

AI and Dota 2

When AI developer called OpenAI – co-founded and chaired by Elon Musk – announced in mid-August that its bot had managed to beat some of the world’s best players in head-to-head match-ups, it sent shockwaves through the esports community.

Writing on the OpenAI blog, the team behind the bot said it had learned the game from scratch by self-play and did not use imitation learning.

“This is a step towards building AI systems which accomplish well-defined goals in messy, complicated situation involving real humans,” they told the world.

More on the OpenAI project here:

‘Devastating’ to esports?

Reacting to the developments, Daniel Sahl, associate director at the Center for Gaming Innovation at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, said AI had the potential to be “devastating” to esports competition.

“Computer assistance has always been a huge challenge to the viability of competitive video games,” he said. “It can be a real problem if, like in a game of Starcraft back in the day, people can see ‘the whole map’.”

While game developers can try their best to counter cheats, “it’s like an arms race.” “There will always be those looking to get an advantage and use game assists and AI is going nuclear on stuff like that.”

The OpenAI bot took on top Dota 2 players in best-of-three one-versus-one matches. Sahl drew comparisons with the effect that bots have had in online poker should AI become prevalent in esports games.

“Is online poker as enjoyable to play today as it was 10 or 15 years ago?” he questioned. “When you have all these people using programs to help them, playing ten hands at once, you have bots with auto-fold or auto-discard. How does that affect the player pool?”

Exponential improvements in Dota 2 AI

The OpenAI team points out in its blog that in the span of a month between early July and early August this year, the system went from barely matching a high-ranked player to beating the top pros.

It has continued to improve since then, due to the nature of the AI self-learning process:

  • March 1: OpenAI sees first “classical reinforcement learning” results in a simple Dota environment
  • May 8: Human tester reports getting better at the game than the bot
  • Early June: Bot beats novice human tester
  • June 30: Bot wins games against more experienced testers
  • July 8: “Barely” wins game against semi-pro tester
  • Aug. 7: Beats former pros ‘Blitz’, ‘Pajkatt’ and ‘CC&C’
  • Aug. 9: Beats top pro Arteezy
  • Aug. 10: Beats top 1v1 player Sumail – also plays Aug. 9 bot and wins 2-1
  • Aug. 11: Beats former world champion and “old-school favorite” Dendi 2-0 – bot also has 60 percent win rate vs. Aug. 10 bot

Sahl says bookmakers would be unlikely to be caught out in the initial stages of AI bots becoming prevalent in esports games.

“If you have a team that has figured out a way to use AI undetected, that will be reflected by their win rate” Sahl says.

“But the risk is much more severe if AI becomes too rampant, then the games will lose the player pool base,” he adds.

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An ‘ocean of complexity’ in mutiplayer

What happens when whole teams of AI bots take to the games is a matter for conjecture. The rate of advance being made by OpenAI is likely to overtake the initial assumptions about its impact. As the team that built the bot explains, while 1v1 is “complicated,” a multiplayer 5v5 game is an “ocean of complexity.”

“We know we’ll need to further push the limits of AI in order to solve it,” they suggest, before pointing out exactly how they think they will tackle the task.

“One well-established place to start is with behavioural cloning,” says the blog posting.

Dota 2 has about a million public matches a day, and the replays for these matches are stored on Valve’s servers for two weeks.  “We’ve been downloading every expert-level replay since last November, and have amassed a dataset of 5.8 million games (where each game is about 45 minutes with 10 humans),” the blog continues.

“If the publishers can’t stop OpenAI from interfering with their games, then there will be huge disruption in the popularity of competitive esports,” says Sahl. “The audiences derive from people feeling passionate about the gameplay. So if you see AI invade the space, it ruins the experience.”

The impact on betting

Traditional betting would presumably go the same way, but Sahl does see an upside for the games publishers – and by implication a potentially large role in the future for skin betting.

“OpenAI could be a real problem for competitive player-versus-player games, but at the same time AI will make the games more immersive, story-telling games far more compelling. People might not care whether they are playing against AI.”

He concludes: “The worlds we enter will become more real. We’re already seeing it with skin betting. The skins have a tangible market value.”

In this brave new world, esports betting operators will be in a better position than operators of traditional gambling activities.

“This means nothing good for casinos,” he forecasts. “When people have these virtual worlds, the thrill of winning at a casino might begin to pall.”

Esports Betting Outlook: International 7 Group Stages Complete, CS:GO Prepares For ESL One: New York

August 7, 2017

The group stages are over at the Dota 2 International 7 with the main event teams confirmed. The main event will be full of top tier games until the grand final this Saturday.

In CS:GO, the Gfinity Elite Series plows on ahead of ESL One: New York starting next week.

Longzhu IM and KT Rolster remain joint leaders of The League of Legends Champions Korea, 3 points ahead of SKT T1 and Samsung G.

Where to bet on esports

It’s always a good idea to shop around when betting on esports. Some bookmakers give out much better odds and offers than others. Here’s a summary of what they’re offering this week.

Bet365

Bet365 have an abundance of bet types and markets to choose from, with the majority of them being Dota 2 and LoL events.

They’ve also been offering a tonne of live markets if you’re a fan of betting in-play. They frequently stream live coverage of events for live betting right from their website which can be very helpful as it’s usually much faster than alternative sources. You’ll need to be logged in with a funded account to view the streams.

Betway

Never ones to miss a trick in esports, Betway have plenty of markets to choose from between the top four esports, namely Dota 2LoL, CS:GO and Starcraft 2. 

They have released even more special bet markets, where you can find all kinds of odds that are exclusive to Betway. They also have esports-specific free bets and odds boosts.

This week’s boost features Liquid, EG, Team Secret, Empire and OG all to win at odds of 7.00 (6/1).

SkyBet

SkyBet don’t seem to be running any special offers or odds boosts for their esports markets at this moment in time. Their odds can be quite competitive though, especially in live markets. They’re definitely worth keeping an eye on!

Interestingly, they don’t have odds listed for the CS:GO Gfinity Elite Series tournament, but they do list markets for the Skinhub CS:GO Championship despite the prize pool being 10x smaller.

Pinnacle

If you’re looking for a site with very competitive odds, especially for pre-match betting, then Pinnacle should be high on the list. Although they are another site to forget about the CS:GO Gfinity Elite Series, it’s nice to see they have included odds for Warcraft 3 – Neo Star League. 

Unikrn

As an exclusively esports betting site, I would expect to see plenty more odds available for the smaller esports but perhaps there isn’t much going on right now. They do have all the big events listed and boast some competitive odds though, alongside a very appealing welcome offer.

Betspawn

Similar story to Unikrn this week with Betspawn, although Betspawn have slightly better odds at times.

It’s certainly worth comparing the two if you have a keen eye for finding the best prices when betting on the International 7 this week.

GG.bet

GG.bet are certain to attract esports fans who are accustomed to the old skin betting sites. They are actually a hybrid of the two as they accept both cash and skins as payment options.

GG.bet have embedded Twitch streams into their live betting pages so that you can watch the stream and bet, all from the same page.

Unibet

So long as you can forgive Unibet for incorrectly labeling esports “E-Sports”, they’re another esports betting site worth keeping an eye on. Perhaps they will bring out some esports-specific promotions or odds boosts in the future to make their esports offerings a little more appealing.

The week in esports events

Dota 2

Group stages are over at the Dota 2 International 7. Fnatic and HellRaisers are first to be eliminated as the bottom teams in each group. LGD.Forever Young claim top spot overall as leaders of Group B with Team Liquid leaders of Group A.

The main event begin today with Liquid versus Invictus Gaming up first. The remaining 16 teams will play in a double-elimination format throughout the week, leading up to the Bo5 grand final on Saturday.

First prize winners will take home over $10m USD – 44 percent of the total prize pool out of the total pool that sits at almost $24m.

CS:GO

The Gfinity Elite Series continues with EnVyUs Academy currently leading with 15 points, four ahead of fellow Europeans Epsilon. Hosted in London, England, the tournament has attracted nationwide coverage after being aired live on BBC Three.

Most of top tier teams will be warming up ahead of ESL One: New York which starts next week on Aug. 14 with a prize pool of over $200,000 USD.

League of Legends

Longzhu IM and KT Rolster keep hold of their tied top spot in the LoL Champions Korea. Both teams sit on 39 points each ahead of SKT T1 and Samsung G. The total prize pool for the event is ₩ 270,000,000 KRW with ₩ 100,000,000 going to 1st place.

In other LoL news, FWtw and Raise are joint pole position in the LoL Master Series Summer Split. 

StarCraft

Byul and HerO face each other at the beginning of the week in the world of Starcraft as part of the StarLeague. 

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How High Can The Prize Pool For The International 2017 For Dota 2 Go?

July 28, 2017

The sky appears to be the limit for the prize pool at The International 2017, which is less than two weeks away.

$23 million plus for The International?

Crowdfunding is a popular tool to raise funds for all sorts of things, ranging from medical bills, to new product launches, to esports tournament prize pools. And no esports tournament utilizes crowdfunding more effectively than than The International, which takes place Aug. 7-12 in Seattle.

This year’s championship for Valve’s Dota 2 has raised a record-breaking prize pool $22,657,229 and isn’t finished yet. With the event taking place in the second week of August, $23 million looks like a lock. There is still an opportunity for this event to be the first esports tournament to top $25 million.

The pool is largely funded by players of the game Dota 2 who purchase a digital package known as the “Battle Pass.” This package grants access to a variety of in-game goods, new in-game content and other goodies. Full details on the Battle Pass, along with the ability to purchase a pass for yourself, can be found here.

With such a large prize pool, the spoils do not go entirely to the victor. Prizes are paid all the way to 18th place. The top prize currently is almost $10 million, with the top six teams guaranteed a million dollars.

The winning team from the all-star game that takes place during The International 2017 will walk away with a cool $100,000 in addition to bragging rights.

The International 2017 continues a tradition of breaking records

This year’s prize pool is record-breaking, not only for Dota 2, but for all of esports.

While we still do not know how high The International 2017’s prize pool will go, we do know the others that top the list:

  • The second largest prize pool belongs to last year’s International, which managed to raise an impressive $20,770,640 in 89 days.
  • Third place in the list of highest esports prize pools is The International 2015, which raised $18,429,613 in 101 days.
  • Fourth place, is an easy guess: It is The International 2014. This prize pool was a massive step up from the 2013 prize pool which was the very first attempt at crowdfunding. The 2013 prize pool reached $2,874,380, with Valve contributing its standard $1,600,000.

Others are following in the success of The International

The massive prize pool and success of crowdfunded prize pools has been noticed by other organizers, and this model is starting to see wider adoption.

Notably, Riot Games, creator of League of Legends, adopted crowdfunding for its 2016 world championship, which assisted in raising the overall prize pool to $5,070,000. This is more than double the $2,130,000 prizes in 2014 and 2015.

Blizzard is also looking to crowdfund this year for its Heroes of the Storm tournament series.

Organizers benefit along with players and teams

While the benefit to the teams playing in The International is clear, it’s Valve, the maker of Dota 2 and tournament organizer, that collects the largest check.

Only 25 percent of the proceeds from the purchase of Battle Passes are added to the prize pool. The rest go directly to Valve itself.

What these funds are used for is not entirely clear, but certainly some are used in the tournament itself, as hosting an event with the scale of The International is no small task.

A rich betting environment

With stakes this high, every team playing in this tournament will be bringing their very best, making The International an exciting esports betting opportunity.

North American team Evil Geniuses took home the prize in 2015 and are the favorites from the west. Chinese teams always come out in force at The International, having taken the top spots in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Look to all of the five Chinese teams represented this year to perform well.

The 2014 champs, Newbee, would love to have a strong showing this year, perhaps becoming the first two-time champions at The International.

Esports Betting Outlook: The International To Be A Record-Breaker (Again)

July 17, 2017

This week, the prize pool for The International 7 in August topped $20.7 million, which puts this year’s edition ahead of 2016’s record-breaking tournament.

It’s official: This will be the world’s richest esports event.

Where to bet on esports

SkyBet

SkyBet remains the number one esports betting site for the number of tournaments covered and the in-game markets covered, with by far the largest selection available online.

Betway

Betway can’t compete with some of the biggest sites when we compare the number of bets available. But for esports betting fans there’s no better place to go for in-depth analysis, blogs, and targeted promotions.

Unikrn

The only site on this list that caters specifically to esports, rather than simply doing well in terms of accommodating players, Unikrn continues to offer a solid selection of bets covering the major esports and tournaments.

Bet365

Bet365 is another site that, for the simple volume of markets on esports betting, towers above most of its competitors. The site’s sports betting expertise and customer service also serves it well in providing a great experience to players.

Pinnacle

Pinnacle remains lagging behind in usability and game coverage, but highly competitive with esports betting odds and promotions. This keeps the site well in the top five esports betting sites without too much effort.

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The week in esports events

Let’s take a look at the week that was and upcoming esports betting opportunities.

CS:GO

The biggest esports tournament currently taking place is the PGL Major Kraków, which is giving $1 million to the world’s top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players in Poland. After that, we have to wait until August and DreamHack Masters.

Dota 2

There is no Dota 2 action in major events taking place until August, but of course that action is massive in the shape of the largest esports tournament in history. At the time of writing, The International 7 is just about overtaking its last incarnation.

League of Legends

League of Legends is a constant presence in the world of esports betting sites due to the plethora of splits and playoffs and other tournaments that seem to be constantly ongoing.

StarCraft

Last week in WCS Valencia, Elazer took home the gold to Poland after Neeb’s back-to-back wins in Austin and Sweden. This week, StarCraft players head to Germany for the HomeStory Cup XV.

The International 2017 Dota 2 Fundraising Effort Surges Ahead Of Last Year, Likely To Pass $20 Million

June 27, 2017

The rate at which International Battle Passes and Levels are being purchased has ramped up considerably.

Following a lull, which saw Valve’s fundraising campaign for The International 2017 fall behind last year’s pace, the 2017 effort is now on tap to leave last year’s record-setting prize fund of $20.8 million in the dust.

And it was all thanks to one super-aggressive sale.

Where does The International 2017 stand?

The annual fundraising campaign for the biggest Dota 2 tournament on the planet has raised $19,667 305 as of today. This is well ahead of the pace set last year, at which point the campaign had generated $17,054,893.

As was the case last year, 25 percent of International Battle Pass and Levels sales go toward the prize fund for The International, which this year is slated to crown a champion at KeyArena in Seattle on August 12.

It’s worth noting that on Day 46, the 2017 campaign fell behind pace of the 2016 effort.

Part of the reason behind the changeover was the somewhat tepid reception of this year’s Collector’s Cache. In 2016, the Cache — which consists of a variety of goodies and generally inspires an influx of campaign contributions — resulted in the prize fund growing by roughly $1.4 million in a three-day span.

This year, the Cache was slightly less influential, with the prize pool growing by $1.3 million within three days of its release.

Other surprise announcements from Valve, including the reveal of a Kunkka Prestige Item and Quest Path, as well as the exclusive Siltbreaker: Act I Campaign, fell flat, barely generating any increased activity.

The release of the Immortal Treasure II on Friday fared better, but didn’t move the needle as much as it did last year. Immortal Treasure II inspired about $800,000 in contributions within three days of release, as opposed to $1.1 million in 2016.

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Weekend sale comes through

As much as the lackluster performance of the Collector’s Cache and Immortal Treasure II  set off alarm bells, the primary reason why the 2017 campaign briefly lagged behind its immediate predecessor was nothing more than a matter of timing.

To elaborate, on Day 45 of last year’s campaign, Valve went live with an exclusive weekend sale that enabled players to purchase a Battle Level bundle for $14.99. This represented a more than 60-percent discount compared to purchasing the contents individually.

Players purchased the pack in droves. On the first day of release, the prize fund spiked $1.1 million, compared to just $143,000 the day before.

Valve went a step further this year. On June 22, it unveiled a Battle Level and Treasure Bundle that represented a staggering 70-percent discount. The sale, which lasted until June 26, inspired a huge uptick.

When the dust cleared, campaign contributions spiked $3.16 million in just four days, compared to $2.38 million for last year’s sale.

The timing of this year’s sale was a bit earlier than expected.

Why? Because in 2016, Valve waited to go live with its weekend sale until shortly after The International roster was hammered down. Well, the 2017 roster isn’t expected to be set by June 29, after the Open Qualifiers (June 22-25), and the Regional Qualifiers (June 26-29) conclude.

Thus, it surprised that the weekend sale didn’t begin June 30.

In either case, The International 2017 campaign now has a clear path toward $20 million, as it’s nearly reached that figure by the campaign’s halfway point.

Step right up, and place your bets

Although we haven’t witnessed any esportsbooks post odds on the final International prize pool, a select few have begun offering futures bets on the eventual winner.

  • Bet365 has Evil Geniuses and Virtus Pro as the favorites at 3/1 on its esports betting platform. Both teams received a direct invitation into the tournament.
  • PaddyPower also has Evil Geniuses at 3/1, with Virtus Pro and OG tied for second at 10/3.

Given these tight odds, it looks like this this year’s International will in fact, be a hotly contested affair.

Esports Betting Outlook: Dota 2 Continues To Headline With Summit 7

June 19, 2017

Dota 2 continues to provide us with headline news in the world of esports betting.

Following the EPICENTER news last week, The Summit 7 wrapped up this past weekend – read on for the results and see if your bets came in. In even bigger news, we’re still looking forward to The International and a prize pool that now tops $15 million.

Where to bet on esports

Betway

A combination of the utility and usability of the Betway homepage, plus a steadfast dedication to embracing esports betting fans as customers with targeted promotions and extras, means that this site remains a top pick for us.

SkyBet

Another top pick can be found at UK betting company SkyBet. SkyBet always has a staggering number of esports bets available, covering not just the most games and tournaments but the biggest selection of markets within each game as well.

Bet365

Bet365 rounds out the podium of the best esports betting sites with a selection of bets that is second only to its fellow British bookies. The Stoke-based bookmaker is another fantastic choice for esports betting fans looking for in-depth selections.

Unikrn

Unsurprisingly, League of Legends markets are the also vast majority of Unikrn’s esports betting selection. The difference is, of course, that Unikrn is entirely esports-focused, unlike the three sites above.

Pinnacle

Pinnacle has yet to reclaim the title of best esports betting site, but that doesn’t seem to stop fans of esports flocking to the original.

The week in esports events

Let’s take a look at the week just gone and look ahead to future bets on esports.

Dota 2

Once again, Dota 2 headlines the world of esports for the past week as The Summit 7 concluded just yesterday. Virtus.Pro took down the title, while on the other side of the Pacific Ocean in Shenzhen, China, Newbee won Galaxy Battles.

StarCraft

Depending on what time you read this, you may well still be able to fire a bet off at the World Championship Series, which is wrapping up in Sweden today. Next up for StarCraft fans is the Global StarCraft League in Seoul next month.

CS:GO

This week, London’s calling to CS:GO fans as eight teams will head to the UK for the Esports Championship Finals and a $660,000 prize pool. After that, we’re off to Cologne for ESL One.

League of Legends

League of Legends continues to be the dominant force in the world of esports betting by sheer number of matches and markets, with a gigantic list of ongoing Splits, Play-offs and other events continuing throughout June and early July.

Hearthstone

Joining the StarCraft crews in Sweden is a group of elite Hearthstone players, competing for DreamHack Summer glory and a prize pool of $25,000. The Hearthstone Spring Championship follows in Shanghai next month.

Heroes of the Storm

Last but not least in Sweden, the Heroes of the Storm Mid-Season Brawl is wrapping up today. Like StarCraft, there may be time to get your bets in still!

Esports Betting Outlook: Dota 2 EPICENTER 2017 Highlights Action-Packed Week

June 7, 2017

The headline action this week is in Dota 2 for a couple of reasons:

  • The ever-growing prize pool for The International has crossed the $13 million mark with three months to go;
  • EPICENTER dominates the odds list this week.

That’s not to say there isn’t other esports betting action, though – in fact it’s quite the opposite, with a jam-packed summer continuing across games and tournaments.

Where to bet on esports

Betway

Esports-specific promotions for esports betting fans are still ongoing at Betway, which is keeping the site firmly cemented in the top spot when it comes to all-round value and support for this ever-growing market.

SkyBet

With all the major and premier events going on across the biggest esports games, you wouldn’t blame any site for not covering the smaller events and more niche games. SkyBet is covering each and every one, remaining No. 1 for esports betting volume.

Bet365

In the same vein, Bet365 is essentially everything that a customer would want from an esports betting site in terms of markets offered, games covered and the value in some of the bets available.

Unikrn

Unikrn remains focused on the big three esports, with League of Legends totally dominating the list of markets at the specialist site. That means that Unikrn is competing with major sportsbooks in the world of esports betting, which may work out well or terribly.

Pinnacle

A revamp of user experience and graphics would do wonders for Pinnacle, which dropped off the top spot in the world of esports betting some time back and has yet to regain a strong footing there.

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The week in esports events

Despite all the esports tournaments that wrapped up in exciting ways last week, there’s much more ongoing and starting this week.

CS:GO

This past weekend saw G2 Esports win the ESL Pro League in Dallas, netting a nice lump of change in the shape of $225,000. CS:GO action is ongoing and increasing this summer, with London hosting the Esports Championship Series finals in three weeks.

Dota 2

The weekly prize pool watch first: The International now has a purse of $13.3 million. In more timely news, Moscow is hosting ten of the world’s best for EPICENTER 2017 throughout the course of this week, and there’s much more to come this month.

League of Legends

With the Summer Splits well and truly underway, yet more League of Legends action has kicked off thanks to the Closing Cup events, all lining the ever-shortening path to the World Championships.

Overwatch

In the world of the not-so-new-anymore kid on the block that is Overwatch, we’ve got Overwatch Contenders events around the world online and the ongoing Overwatch APEX events to keep our eyes on.

Heroes of the Storm

Next week the elite of the Global Championship events across the world will get together in Sweden for the Mid-Season Brawl and compete for a prize pool of $250,000.

Hearthstone

This week the StarLadder i-Series finals kick off in Kiev with eight Hearthstone players taking on one another in Ukraine.

The International 2017 Dota 2 Campaign Comes Out Firing On All Cylinders

May 17, 2017

The fundraising campaign for The International 2017 has gotten off to a blistering start.

It’s only been 12 days since Valve unveiled this year’s Battle Pass, and already the annual crowdsourcing campaign for the Dota 2 event is flirting with the $10 million marker.

At the current rate, the campaign will not only surpass, but crush, last year’s high-water mark of $20,770,460.

But just how high will it go? Is $25 million out of the question?

A little bit of old, a whole lot of new

For this year’s campaign, Valve will contribute 25 percent of Battle Pass and Battle Pass Levels sales to the prize fund for the biggest Dota 2 event of the calendar year. It kicked off the campaign with $1.6 million in seed money.

This is little different than the model instituted by the game development and digital distribution behemoth in years past. However, the constituents of the 2017 Battle Pass have been altered significantly, and apparently to great effect.

New components of this year’s pass include:

  • Multiplayer campaign: Battle Pass owners will be invited to join up for a co-op campaign. Act I will be available later this month. Act II launches sometime in July.
  • Team quests: Also on the menu are team quests, whereby groups of players can receive rewards including extra Battle Points, Completion Rewards and style upgrades.
  • Gambling: Players will have more opportunities to earn Battle Points via wagering than ever before. Token wagering on matches, trivia games and a unique “Predict the Prize Pool” are all part of this year’s rollout.

Making an expected return are Immortal Treasures (there will be three in total), special seasonal effects, unlockable and exclusive rewards, and of course, The International Compendium — which acts as a digital companion for all things related to the event.

So far, this juxtaposition of old and new has paid dividends. The campaign raised a shade over $9 million from its onset on May 4 through May 15.

At the time of this writing, the current tally stands at $9,269,174 — although we’re quite certain that figure will be obsolete within hours.

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How is this year’s campaign stacking up?

It’s still a bit early, but there’s strong reason to believe that the final prize fund for The International 2017 will be the largest in esports history, and not by the smallest of margins.

According to tracking website dota2.prizetrac.kr, on Day 11 of the 2015 campaign, the prize fund was up to $7,557,339. And on the same day in 2016, it had just surpassed $8.1 million — $8,130,982 to be exact.

So far, 2017 is outpacing last year’s record-breaker by nearly $900,000, and the divide is growing with each passing day.

In 2016, total campaign contributions accounted for $19,170,460 of the prize fund, with 34.1 percent of those contributions coming in the first 11 days. Applying that percentage to this year’s campaign reveals estimated user contributions of $21.74 million.

Tack on Valve’s $1.6 million seed fund, and that figure grows to $23.34 million, or $2.57 million more than last year’s prize pool.

And that’s just the bear case

The aforementioned figure is a somewhat cautious estimate, for a few reasons:

  • The 2017 campaign will be notably longer than its 2016 counterpart, which ran a total of 89 days. There are approximately 100 days between this year’s campaign kickoff and the day  that The International 2017 champion will be crowned at KeyArena in Seattle (August 12).
  • Despite the campaign’s longer length, the prize pool is growing at a slightly greater relative rate compared to last year. To illustrate, on Day 10 of last year’s campaign, the prize pool swelled by 2.18 percent. On the same day this year, it spiked 2.41 percent.
  • Valve has shown a tendency to one up itself with each passing campaign. Last year, in addition to the launch of a Collector’s Cache, it hosted a one-off weekend sale that resulted in a sizable sales surge. We expect Valve to have even more tricks up its sleeve this time around.

Taking all of these variables into account, there is a path for this year’s campaign that results in a $25 million prize fund.

It’s admittedly not a likely one, but what’s nearly guaranteed is that The International 2017 will represent a historic victory for the esports community.

Esports Betting Outlook: OG Wins Dota 2 Kiev Major For $1 Million

May 1, 2017

The first multi-million dollar event of the summer — the Kiev Major for Dota 2 — wrapped up with OG defeating Virtus.pro 3-2 after each side won their respective semifinals in whitewash victories. OG took home $1 million, while Virtus had to settle for $500,000.

However, Kiev is far from the only big event wrapping up or kicking off this week:

  • The 2017 Mid-Season Invitational headlines a list of ongoing League of Legends events;
  • The Intel Extreme Masters XII begins this week in Sydney
  • We have a massive spring and summer ahead of us, with a variety of events scheduled.

Where to bet on esports

Betway

Betway continues as per normal, with something of a lack of competitiveness with regards to the number of covered esports betting markets, but total domination when it comes to involvement and immersion in the esports world.

SkyBet

SkyBet is also continuing as normal, with a resounding victory if we’re playing a “which site has the widest selection of esports bets” competition, but a lack of usability and organization in the listings.

Bet365

Finally, Bet365 rounds out the big three also continuing as normal. It has a similarly gargantuan list of esports bets including a lot of niche markets that should really suit fans.

Unikrn

Unikrn also has a good deal of coverage, though the specialist’s reach extends only a few weeks into the future. That means that despite good coverage of the esports tournament world, its selection appears less competitive.

Pinnacle

It’s the same old story with Pinnacle: A decent selection of bets with good match coverage and competitive odds, but dated links and information spoiling the offer.

Ladbrokes

After what appeared to nearly be a successful renaissance, Ladbrokes appear to have packed in the esports betting offers – the page now redirects, and there’s no esports listing in the A-Z Sports menu. Shame.

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The week in esports events

After a week that saw millions awarded to esports players, let’s take a look at the ongoing action in the world of esports.

League of Legends

The list of ongoing League of Legends events hasn’t been shorter for a while, but there is still a ton left to play for this year. Currently, the most notable events underway are the Mid-Season Inviational and the EUCS Summer Open.

CS:GO

This week marks the beginning of an action-packed few months for the world of CS:GO, with the Intel Extreme Masters XII getting underway Down Under and the ESL Pro League finals beginning at the end of May.

Dota 2

Obviously this past week was a massive one for Dota 2, but May still has $450,000 waiting to be won in Shanghai, Manila and Taipei. However, all eyes are on August now for Seattle and The International.

StarCraft

The World Championship Series saw 80 players head to Austin, Texas, with Neeb coming out on top to win $25,000 and 3,000 WCS Circuit Points. The next event takes place in Sweden next month.

Hearthstone

This week, China plays host to the Hearthstone China vs Europe Championship. There’s over $200,000 up for grabs among 16 teams.