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Esports-focused betting company Rivalry closes out the year with a look at the top games, teams and competitions fans are betting on in 2022.
Rivalry is emerging as a market leader in esports betting. Earlier this year, the company recorded its first ever profitable month – a major achievement in an industry chasing profitability. Similarly, a Barclays survey claimed that Rivalry was the most engaged esports betting brand globally.
While Rivalry’s data is limited to its own books, its position in the market provides valuable insight into industry trends.
Top games of rivalry
Most wagered on esports titles in 2022
|On average bet size
|League of Legends
|Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
|Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
|League of Legends
|Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
|Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Dota 2 lead the way for rivalry esports betting. Together, the three titles accounted for about 90% of all esports bets on the platform. Since esports accounts for 90% of Rivalry’s sportsbook, these three titles account for about 80% of the sportsbook.
These titles have mature esports scenes, both in how organized the competition is and in the audience itself. As relatively older titles, League of Legends, CS:GO, and Dota 2 players are more likely to reach a betting age.
League of Legends in particular resulted in more individual bets, but CS:GO fans bet more on average per bet.
Valorant posted the most profit in 2022. Betting increased by 264% over 2021. Riot invests more resources in Valorant esports. This increased gambling activity shows that the most active viewers are responding well to Riot’s efforts. The title is also similar in structure to CS:GO, so Valorant benefits from CS:GO’s established gaming culture.
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang was also a Breakout Star of the Year. Rivalry only added bets mobile titles in March. Naturally, ML:BB is the first mobile title to break into Rivalry’s top five. The mobile MOBA is one of them most watched esports in the world, but it is relatively localized in Southeast Asia. Most of the game’s gambling activity came from SEA, but this was enough to surpass major titles like StarCraft 2.
Top five mobile games by bet volume:
- 1. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
- 2. League of Legends: Wild Rift
- 3. Honor of kings
- 4. Call of Duty: Mobile
- 5. Free fire
While Mobile Legends: Bang Bang tops the mobile charts, it’s joined by two direct competitors. League of Legends: Wild Rift is the mobile counterpart to PC League of Legends, while Honor of Kings is localized in China. ML:BB is published by Moonton, a subsidiary of Bytedance, while Wild Rift and HoK are published by Tencent.
With mobile esports growing in popularity, betting will be a good yardstick for gauging which titles get the most attention from hardcore fans.
Most wagered on esports titles in 2022 by region
- Australia: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Canada: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Latin America: League of Legends
- South East Asia: Dota2
- Rest of the world: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Outside of Southeast Asia and Latin America, CS:GO reigns supreme. Most bets focused on ESL’s Pro League and WePlay’s Academy League.
In Latin America, League of Legends dominated betting – over 60% of esports bets in the region were placed on Riot’s MOBA. China’s LPL, Brazil’s CBLoL and Korea’s LCK were the top three for most league bets, respectively, both in Latin America and globally. This is probably due to the high level of play in China and Korea. Brazilian fans are also very involved, which explains why the regional league is so popular for betting.
Top competitions and teams
Most bet on esports teams worldwide:
- Team Liquid
- RED canines
It’s no secret that Brazil loves esports; betting data shows how passionate they are. Three of the country’s top teams – FURIA, LOUD and RED Canids – are in the top five for most bets on teams worldwide. In particular, FURIA’s victory over IEM Rio in front of a home crowd has undoubtedly propelled the team to the top of the list.
While Team Liquid didn’t win a major championship this year, the organization’s participation in several esports, including Valorant, Dota 2, CS:GO, and League of Legends, placed them firmly at No. 2.
T1, on the other hand, is less active in other esports. While they do have teams from Valorant and Overwatch plus a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate player, their League of Legends team has taken them to the top.
Most bets on esports matches worldwide
- League of Legends World Championship: T1 vs DRX
- Dota 2 The International: Tundra Esports vs Team Secret
- League of Legends World Championship: Gen.G vs DWG KIA
- Campeonato Brazil from League of Legends: FURIA vs paiN Gaming
- League of Legends World Championship: DRX vs. Edward Gaming
Unsurprisingly, international competitions dominate the most popular competitions. The League of Legends World Championship featured three of the most match bets. The last fight between T1 and DRX took first place, making T1 probably the number 5 most bets on the team. The close quarterfinal matches with Gen.G vs DAMWON Gaming and DRX vs Edward Gaming were also among the top 5, demonstrating the importance of close matches.
Interestingly enough, the match between FURIA and paiN Gaming was the first match of the winner’s streak in the first split of the season. While the match was important, the main reason it attracted so much attention was the rivalry between the two teams and their prominence in Brazilian esports.
The final match of Dota 2’s The International was the only non-League of Legends match to make the cut. While TI was a 3-0 blowout, Dota 2 fans were still very involved in the game
What about traditional sports?
Most popular sports among esports bettors
- American football
While 90% of Rivalry’s sportsbook handle comes from esports, the company also takes bets on traditional sports. According to Rivalry, more than 50% of people betting on esports in 2022 will also place bets on traditional sports.
Basketball is the clear leader, followed by football/soccer and American football. With the worldwide popularity of football, it is not surprising that it is on the list. However, it’s interesting to see Rivalry’s younger esports-leaning crowd favor basketball over soccer.
Betting trends in 2023
Going forward, Rivalry aims to expand its footprint in mobile games and Valorant. The growth of these two sectors is evident in the data set. While mobile titles are more localized for SEA, their international growth can be accelerated by introducing them to the highly engaged gambling audience. Likewise, if Riot’s goal is to compete with CS:GO for viewers, appealing to CS:GO’s gaming culture is a must.
However, a more seismic shift is taking place in betting. In a recent joint report by Nuvei, Paypal and Esports Insider*, 77% of esports companies (teams, tournament operators and talent agencies) said betting was at least moderately important to the industry, even if they were not directly involved in betting. In the quest for profit, regulated betting can be part of the solution.
This growth can be seen in the NFL, MLB and NBA which have allowed wagering sponsorship since legalization in 2018. These leagues have reaped the benefits of regulated gambling in increased viewership, engagement, sponsorship revenue and higher team ratings.
In an era where engagement is the gold standard – especially with free-to-play dominating the market – betting can be a valuable tool for publishers. In a study, 69% of Millennial NFL bettors watched more sports than usual when placing a bet on a game. While this study was not focused on esports, the same principle applies.
“Where we see momentum in the gambling activity, it often translates into improved economies and overall viewership growth for that esport,” affirmed Steven Salz, Rivalry co-founder and CEO.
We are seeing early signs that companies are embracing betting. Twitch allows fans to bet in certain markets channel points – which are earned by watching – to predict the outcome of matches.
Rivalry expects more openness to gambling from publishers in 2023.
*Remark: Prior to joining GamesBeat, the author of this article was part of the team conducting this research.
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