Steffen Thomsen – Danske Spil – The esports story so far

Following the International in early August of this year, for which the victorious team Wings Gaming came away with $9.1m (£7m) as a prize, esports betting experienced a notable surge. 

Steffen Thomsen, Danske Spil
Steffen Thomsen, Danske Spil

Danish operator Danske Spil started out in esports in 2014. It also operates eOddset TV to accompany this with regular guests to analyse competitions and drive interest.

We spoke to Danske Spil’s Head of Esports, Steffen Thomsen, about which esports markets have been most dominant in Denmark and the issues with such a new product and market.

SBC: When did Danske Spil start getting involved with esports and why was this decision made?

Steffen: We started out back in January 2014. This is when we put League of Legends on offer. Besides the rising popularity of the sport, we saw a unique way of engaging a younger audience than Danske Spil usually attracts.

Furthermore all the necessary requirements were there as LCS is well run, matches are on time and results are dependable.

SBC: Would you say that esports is ideally placed for live betting, or that the amount of data to be processed makes it too troublesome to be good value?

Steffen: On our side live betting is troublesome as there is a huge amount of data and the esports scene and games are ever changing.

Patches and rule changes occur every month almost and makes life difficult for our traders. As for our customers I think esports is great live betting opportunity with loads of possibilities which engage you throughout the matches.

SBC: How much growth have you witnessed in esports (betting volume,  general interest etc.) in the past six months? Where do you currently place it in comparison with other sports markets?

Steffen: We have seen a large growth in both volume and interest.

This is especially due to the fact that more and more of our regular sports betting customers start looking at esports like any other sport. This is imperative for continued growth as I don’t believe gamers in general can continue to carry the growth alone.

It needs a broader betting audience to continue growth and surpass some the big sports for us like tennis, handball and basketball. Football is unreachable for at least the next 5 years, if ever. Esports is around the 6-7th most played sport as things stand.

SBC: Of the esports you offer which have been most popular? Have the bigger competitions such as The International seen the most betting?

Steffen: League of Legends and Counter-Strike by far and away.

None of the others like DotA 2, FIFA and Starcraft can really compare. We have great expectations for Overwatch but as for Denmark none will surpass LoL or CS.

Big events like the International do draw more betting, but again it’s DotA 2 which doesn’t have a large audience here.

You can learn more about betting’s blossoming relationship with esports by attending Betting on Sports in London this month (15-16). Find out more here.

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