Why do we need to replace professional sports? On Wednesday, March 12 among increasing concern over the COVID-19 Virus, the Utah Jazz were playing the Oklahoma City Thunder when the game was abruptly canceled because Rudy Gobert, a center for the Jazz, was suspected to have contracted the coronavirus. It marked something of a tipping point for the sports world and really the United States in general.
Within hours the NBA regular season was suspended and all other major US sports quickly following suit when the NHL, MLB, PGA, and even NASCAR took hiatuses. The sports world, much like the rest of the world, came to a standstill.
But sports gambling folks are an antsy bunch. It wasn’t going to be long before they needed something to put a little scratch on. What’s going to replace professional sports? Esports of course. Who needs to go to stadiums when we can watch our favorite online gamers compete from the privacy of their own homes (or just a few together).
Now, one of the only games in town is Esports, with a number of different games leading the charge in one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. It’s ready to replace professional sports.
Let’s take a look at some of these games and how the betting markets are reacting to the prospect of Esports being one of the few competitions still running on a professional level.
The Most Popular Esports
In terms of top prize money for eSports, the biggest game right now is Dota 2, a game developed by Valve which falls under the MOBA (multiple online battle arena) classification. Teams compete against each other in the arena and currently, on a professional level, the Asia League is currently running competitions among different teams.
But Dota 2 isn’t the only one out there which could replace professional sports. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (better known as CS:Go) and League of Legends also have various professional leagues running right now as well. Their yearly prize pools are $93 million and $84 million respectively.
CS:Go, also developed by Valve, is a first-person shooter game that operates in a team-fighting style with one team playing as the Terrorists and the other the Anti-terrorists. Right now the MDL (Mountain Dew League) is the biggest operator for CS:Go competitions.
Meanwhile if you’re looking to replace professional sports, League of Legends is currently running both the Dutch Spring League as well as the very popular LPL which is China’s professional pro league. It is also a MOBA-style game which involves teams choosing their champions and fighting against each other in a set map.
Both of these games and many others are run on free-to-play platforms meaning anyone with a console and an internet connection can get in and start playing. It doesn’t mean you’ll become a professional overnight, but it does mean anyone can start playing and working to improve.
But Esports isn’t confined just to fighting each other. NBA2K and FIFA by EA games are also running professional leagues with players taking on the different “real” players in their respective sports.
These are just the current professional leagues running. The immensely popular Fortnite, Starcraft II and Overwatch also operate with massive prize pools for their players.
Esports Market Growth Ready To Replace Professional Sports
According to Yahoo finance, Esports is one of the fastest-growing entertainment models in the world with nearly 10% year-over-year growth and a $200 billion market projection by 2022. That makes it ideally ready to replace professional sports as they’ve been traditionally played.
While this number doesn’t confine itself merely to the professional leagues, it’s an indicator that the prize pool of those leagues will only continue to grow.
And one only needs to look at a list of Esport’s highest earners to see that some of the top players are already at the level or even eclipsing the earnings of “traditional” professional athletes. The top earner, Jonah Sundstein has made nearly $7 million playing Dota 2.
How To Replace Your Professional Sports Gambling With Esports Bets
A number of different online book sites are taking action on Esports to replace professional sports as we type and speak. BetOnline, MyBookie and DraftKings Sportsbook all have posted odds for matches in Dota 2, CS:Go, NBA2K and FIFA.
And in terms of DFS (daily fantasy sports) League of Legends has taken over some of the market share on DraftKings while the other professional leagues are on hiatus.
There’s still much volatility in getting information about matches and competitions because unlike the professional sports being replaced, Esports aren’t being covered by the media in quite the same way. But because they operate on a professional level and are regulated by the leagues, betting houses are free to post odds on their sites.
This is all to say, in the wake of global shutdowns around some of the most solid institutions (i.e sports for one) other forms of competition are filling the void. This may very well mark the time when Esports came into the conversation as the biggest and most popular professional games around.