Evgenly Bekker, chief trading officer for BETER, explains how esports recently catapulted into the mainstream and why he had no doubt the vertical would come out on top
Evgeniy Bekker, chief trading officer at BETER
Evgeniy Bekker is a seasoned trading professional with over 10 years of experience in the iGaming industry.
Evgeniy worked with both traditional sports and esports, and his core expertise lies in all aspects of sportsbook management, such as pre-game and live trading, development and improvement of online customer experience, risk management and product growth.
Despite the groundwork for this category harking back to the 1970s, the term ‘esports’ was officially coined in 2000 and wagering in some form has always existed on the outcome of these events and competitions.
Modern esports enjoyed organic growth over the whole of the last decade, especially when the live streaming service Twitch accelerated its popularity. The big turning point for the vertical was around 2017-2018, when some major operators focused on esports and experienced significant volumes of events, resulting in estimates for wagers coming in at eight figures.
From there, 2019 was the year that saw esports’ stock peak yet again, with the market expected to pass the $1bn mark for the very first time. However, it was the unforeseen Covid-19 pandemic and resulting enforced lockdowns in 2020 that became the surprise driver for the esports boom.
Revenue and growth
While many touted virtuals and other verticals as being a solid alternative, I always believed esports would be the key winner during this time as it ideally suited demographic demand. It has the biggest potential by far and has opened a wealth of new opportunities[JHJ3] for the betting industry.
The surge in revenue of the esports industry has allowed companies to reinvest in B2C marketing strategies, something that is definitely working for the market leaders in terms of growth. Additionally, the number of sponsorship deals is growing exponentially as have average esports player earnings – quadrupling in the last two years – which plays a key role in building trust in brands, which again, fuels further growth but also helps mainstream the vertical.
So, what we have now is an exceedingly competitive environment. I believe no one has the monopoly on esports provision quite yet but there are strong brands in the mix, and there is still growth in the space with the number of providers rapidly increasing. That said, we at BETER are confident we have the know-how to retain and grow our market share.
The level of competition makes market entry quite high, requiring companies to invest significantly, not only in the trading department but also in the access to non-delay game data obtained alongside the right trading tools. Specialists in this space have much more potential than big names which have established themselves elsewhere, as this is their niche, rather than ‘add-on’ content.
So, the future’s certainly bright, and I foresee esports occupying its own firmly established vertical within the industry in the next five years or so. It’s set to reside in the top three sports on the sportsbooks for a lot of major operators.
In actual fact, this is actually already happening for some tier 1 operators, with esports taking the position of the second-best sport in terms of volume and revenue.
The speed of that growth and ability to unlock the full potential of esports crucially depends on who is willing to invest in quality esports odds providers with access to non-delay data that makes this growth possible. As that’s what it’s all about – data is vital to esports’ ability to scale, as well as a team of experienced traders and sophisticated trading tools.