Is tournament betting profitable? That's the question we try to answer.

Tournament betting on esports: Is it worth it?

Tournament betting can be entertaining and it’s no surprise it has many different names, like outrights, long term bet or futures to name a few. The idea is simple - bet on the outcome of a whole tournament or a section of it and not on individual matches. Is it worth it though? This is a question often asked in the world of esports betting and it’s time for us to have a look at it. We will have a look at if you should do it, where to do it and how to do it, to find out. We will begin our journey with looking at what outright betting is, and end with an answer to if outright betting on tournaments or leagues offer any value.

What is an outright bet?

The basic idea of an outright bet is very simple - instead of playing on specific matches or events, we bet on the outcome of whole tournaments or parts of it. These betting options come in quite a few different shapes and forms and honestly the sky's the limit. Down below is some of the most common options in esports outright betting.

  • To win the tournament
  • Region of winner
  • Winning group stage
  • Qualify for playoffs
  • MVP of tournament

These options are usually available through different operators for the biggest esports events, but many also lack them completely. As esports is growing more and more options are fortunately added and honestly it’s a situation of, the more the merrier. Long term bets on individual player performances have become more popular as of late and it’s a good sign of esports betting evolving and developing. We will have a look at which operators offer betting on outrights later on, but first, let’s dive into how this type of betting can be profitable and if it is a good idea to begin with.

How to evaluate outright betting odds

Deciding when to bet, or not to bet on outrights can be a difficult challenge, as we commit part of our betting bankroll for an extra long period of time. This is something we have to consider as a major part, considering our liquid value at any given time. Therefore in theory these bets should be able to give us better value than straight bets on matches themselves. Betting on for example a winner of a tournament is to a big part the same thing as betting in matches individually. Let's look at an example:

  • Bet: Fnatic to win ESL One Cologne 2020 - Odds: 8.0

This essentially means we put our money on several things happening.

  • Fnatic to get through the group stage.
  • Fnatic to win their quarterfinal.
  • Fnatic to win their semifinal.
  • Fnatic to win their final.

If we consider the odds of Fnatic moving on from the group stage, together with winning three straight games in the playoffs, we can start making assumptions of how that would play out in reality. At the time of writing Fnatic is a middling team, who wouldn’t be considered a favourite against almost any team in a playoff setting. To keep it simple we could assume Fnatic being at best double money against most playoff opposition they might face. This alone would end with 2x2x2 in the playoffs and a total odds of 8. With the team being far from guaranteed to manage the first step of qualifying to the playoffs to begin with, this would seem like very little value, or none at all. 

What we want to point out is that long term betting in its core comes down to individual matches themselves and should be viewed as such to determine potential outcomes. This example would for us without a doubt go under the category of no value and instead we could watch the group stage games and evaluate how they are playing before stepping in betting on them. If they are performing well, we can expect to play on individual matches in the playoffs for the same value, but with more available information.

A good way to find value on outright markets is to be well informed of teams current form and player changes that might have happened in the team, or others. Outright markets very often tend to lag behind in odds movements and big changes in teams form doesn’t necessarily move the lines in time. This happens frequently as teams have huge spikes of form and you will be able to find outright odds for the next big tournament and take advantage. The upside here is that when that tournament finally starts the odds lines for the individual matches will be set accordingly. Like always with esports betting, being well informed and finding odds well ahead of time pays off, especially so for outright betting.

With all that said outright betting has a negative side to it that forces you to tie up your bankroll for a long time, but if done with good timing it can be massively profitable. However we would go against this form of betting almost in all cases if it’s done right before the tournament/league starts, as those lines will be too tough to beat. We simply need to take advantage long before that.


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Outright betting and hedging

As long term betting usually involves placing bets on higher odds markets, hedging becomes more and more lucrative. Hedging is the act of placing a bet on the opposite result that you are hoping for to make sure you “lock up” your win. Let's look at an example from the above bet. 

  • Bet: Fnatic to win ESL One Cologne 2020 - Odds: 8.0 Bet Size: 100

If we imagine this was our outright bet to begin with and Fnatic has reached the final of the tournament. We are close to cashing in a win, but they still need to win the final and they are facing Natus Vincere. The odds for this game are 2.0 for Natus Vincere to win and Fnatic stands at 1.8. If Fnatic would win we would win 800, but we have the option to now put a part of our bankroll on Natus Vincere to win and guarantee ourselves a win. Example of how we could do it below.

  • Bet: Natus Vincere > Fnatic - Odds: 2.0 Bet Size: 400 

The total bet for us now would be 500 and we are guaranteed to win as we have a bet on both Fnatic and Natus Vincere. Let's look at the two possible outcomes.

  • Fnatic wins: We win 800
  • Natus Vincere wins: We win 800

Making this hedge bet would make us guaranteed to win 300 whatever happens, but we obviously give up the upside of profiting the whole 700 is Fnatic would go on and win it all. This is often lucrative and quite often it could also make sense to do so, but we need to remember we are giving up an edge and we fall victim to the house edge once more. Many sites offer the so called Cash Out option, which works exactly this way too, but also likewise with a cut for the house, or the operator. 

If you have put a bet on a big underdog, or you have a very good reason to believe your original betting option no longer seems like value, hedging can be a great option. Let’s assume we have betted on a massive underdog of lets say 100x the money, then the potential upside of guaranteeing your bankroll growing quickly can be worth considering as there is too much in the line. 

With good bankroll management hedging is something we would rarely suggest, as you once again have to combat the operator’s edge. However, in rare cases like the one mentioned above it can make perfect sense and it will always be a judgement call on your edge.

Is there value in esports outright betting?

Here we are - time to answer the question we began with. Our conclusion is that, yes, betting on outrights is worth it. It does however require the perfect timing and understanding of where the value can be found. Esports betting is probably also one of the best sports to do this with, as operators are often lagging behind with changing the odds even with big changes in teams performance or ability. It might be rare to find value in ourights, but when you do it can be with a massive edge. 

It’s not rare for odds for a tournament winner to move with massive margins right before a tournament starts and if you are fast on knowing how the teams involved have performed or what changes has been made, there is huge value to be had. We would suggest making it a habit to keep track of upcoming events and how the odds are looking. If you spot a team going on a big heater for quite some time, while others are struggling, it might be time to get the bet in before the odds lines move. 

We also want to mention that outright betting can be extremely fun and especially if you manage to find the big value spots. We hope this was insightful in how to view outright betting and that it has helped you view it in a more logical way overall. We wish you luck with your future betting and we hope you manage to find the perfect spot for your favourite game and tournaments!


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Janne Kouva image

Janne Kouva

19 August 2020
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