With the eSports event of the year The International now under way, SBC got in touch with the Head of Sportsbook at Pinnacle, Marco Blume, to discuss the tournament, the $100,000 (£64,000) betting limits, and how the company are making waves in the world of eSports betting.
SBC: Given the phenomenal growth in eSports in the past two years, are you at all surprised by its continuing rate of growth or is this something you anticipated?
Marco: I was personally convinced that eSports would become a global phenomenon, but wasn’t entirely sure that betting on it would take off in quite the same way.
Passing one million eSports bets last December, provided vindication as well as immense satisfaction; we are on course to pass two million bets much faster showing growth is unabated.
SBC: How long before its potential becomes recognised by more of the major players in the mainstream betting market, and how do you intend to stay ahead of the game?
Marco: That is actually already happening, reflecting the fact that eSports and eSports betting are both growing in size and exposure. We are proud to have been pioneers, having taken our first eSports bet back in 2010, and that experience is invaluable in understanding both what eSports bettors want, and the challenges of trading eSports.
We added CS:GO last year, which has been a real success, and will keep looking at gaming trends to make sure our product offering keeps up with demand. Our eSports Hub is central to connecting with eSports bettors, and that is under constant development.
SBC: A landmark at Pinnacle then for this year’s The International with betting limits for the finals pushed to $100,000 (£64,000). Can you talk us through the decision process?
Marco: We recognise that The International is huge, so wanted to make a statement to acknowledge that status. $100k limits for the Grand Final seemed like a nice round number, not quite at the $1 million (£641,000) mark we set for the 2014 World Cup Finals, but to put them in perspective standard EPL limits are at $30,000 (£19,000). In fact limits throughout the main event of TI5 are among the highest we have ever offered for eSports.
SBC: With eSports betting already overtaking the likes of golf and rugby in popularity, it’s an exciting time to be at the heart of it. Are you harbouring any expectations for it to rival the mainstays of football (both American and English) in the coming years?
Marco: As a bookmaker, we are not in the habit of making predictions, but there seems little doubt that eSports is on a very exciting trajectory, and we are proud to be at the heart of eSports betting.
There is an argument to say that it could one day become the only other truly global sport, rivalling soccer, but from our internal product perspective – though its relative growth is exceptional – eSports has a very long way to go to catch up with soccer in terms of contribution to our book.
SBC: Since we last spoke to Pinnacle you’ve released your new eSports hub. Can you tell our readers a little more about this?
Marco: As eSports bettors are less likely to come from a betting background, the eSports Hub (www.pinnaclesports.com/en/esports) offers a separate destination and experience. We want to give direct access to our eSports odds and schedule, and to try explain how betting works for those that are unfamiliar.
It is a work in progress. We recently surveyed our eSports customers and are taking on board the feedback to continually improve the Hub, with further significant changes planned.
SBC: Finally, with The International DOTA 2 Championship now underway, any betting advice for the eSports newcomer?
Marco: As with any kind of betting, do your research. Because of its relative immaturity, eSports provides a particular opportunity to gain a potential edge. Teams and players are more accessible in comparison to traditional professional sports, which means that dedicated bettors can often find “inside” information by watching player twitter feeds or hearing on a stream about possible stand-ins / line-up changes / other types of news before the market does.
Beyond that, as with any betting, always search out the best value odds; Pinnacle Sports make every effort to lead the field in that regard.
Marco Blume, Head of Sportsbook, Pinnacle Sports