After a dip in popularity which started in 2014 and lasted about five years, StarCraft 2 is back! Which means now is a great time for some StarCraft betting.
Since it was released ten years ago, StarCraft 2 has seen both the peaks and troughs of any top Esports game. However, since moving to the free-to-play model popularised by games like League of Legends, Counter Strike and Dota, there is no doubt StarCraft Esports is on the up.
While StarCraft 2 can’t boast the following of the aforementioned games, its 40,000 registered worldwide players per season has the sportsbooks’ attention, with many offering StarCraft betting odds for a range of markets.
What is StarCraft?
Seen by many as a pioneer in the formation of modern competitive Esports games, there was a time when StarCraft 2 looked down upon games like League of Legends.
It’s much anticipated release came in 2010, over eleven years after the original. The game’s developers, Blizzard Entertainment, are well known in the Esports world after creating industry titans like the Warcraft and Overwatch series.
During the game’s production, Blizzard announced that the game wouldn’t support LAN (Local Area Network) connections, which is of course how most Esports tournaments are played. This is because they created their own platform, Battle.net 2.0, which allowed them to completely control games via their servers and, more importantly, gave them a foothold in broadcast negotiations.
After the arguable failure of this venture, Blizzard recently ended their in-house WCS (World Championship Series) tournaments and have formed a partnership with ESL (Electronic Sports League), the industry’s biggest production company, to ensure that StarCraft 2 is once again at the forefront of Esports… and Esports betting.
Tournaments are held around the world, with recent locations including Burbank (USA), Montreal, Paris, Seoul and Shanghai. While prize pools are somewhat lower than other comparable games, premier events average rewards of $200,000, while last year’s WCS Global Final winner, Park-Ryung Woo (AKA Dark), took home a whopping $700,000. Major tournaments are usually held online and also feature large prize pools of up to $50,000.
“Where’s the money for me?,” we hear you ask. Well, most online sportsbooks offer StarCraft odds on a wide range of markets for Premier and Major tournaments, as well as Leagues, which run throughout the year.
How is StarCraft Played?
StarCraft is a single or multiplayer, RTS (Real Time Strategy) game. This means players play simultaneously, as opposed to in turns like in Turn-based strategy games like “Worms” or the “Final Fantasy” series.
Players can choose to lead one of the game’s three races; Terrans, an evolved future version of humans, who’ve been banished from Earth, Protoss, a technologically superior species with psychic powers and Zerg, a super-species made up of a combination of different life forms.
Each race has its strengths and weaknesses, which means different strategies are required to be successful, so be sure to keep an eye on which one players choose before following any StarCraft tips.
Tournaments are played in multiplayer mode on a variety of maps like “Emerald City”, “Jungle Depths” and “Old Estate”. Two opposing players compete with the aim of killing all opponents, and most importantly, destroying their base, which ends the game.
If killed, players can respawn an unlimited amount of times within the battle, points are awarded for kills, kill streaks, types of kills and time without being killed.
In tournaments, games are played in a “best-of” format of three, five or seven games. Good news for you, of course, as more games means more StarCraft betting odds.
Major Tournaments & Leagues
As one of the frontrunners in the competitive Esports world, StarCraft 2 has always had a strong tournament presence.
Here are some of the biggest tournament organisers and the competitions they host…
ESL Pro Tour
Having recently replaced the World Championship Series, the games in-house organised tournament, the ESL Pro Tour, is the most popular Starcraft 2 tournament. Events are held in various locations around the world with over £3 million of prize money on offer. Each year the season builds up to its final event, the Intel Extreme Masters, which features the best players from the tours.
Due to the huge popularity of Starcraft 2 in South Korea, most league tournaments are played there. The biggest of these is Global Starcraft League, which features prize pools of up to £120,000. These tournaments can last anything from two days to over a month.
So, you’re clued up on the game and Esports betting offers, all you need now is the upcoming events for you to get started on Starcraft 2 betting.
The next online tournament is the much anticipated return of the TeamLiquid Sports League. The week-long tournament kicks off on May 16 and will feature players from all over the world.
ESL Pro Tour
There are three scheduled ESL Pro Tour events listed for this year. The Valencia edition begins on July 3, the Dallas edition on August 14 and finally in Montreal on September 11. Each of these events will last 2 days and boast prize pools of around £100,000.
StarCraft Betting Markets & bet types
As with most Esports games, numerous sportsbooks offer StarCraft betting odds on a range of markets. Here are the ways you can currently bet on the game:
- Match Winner: With this kind of StarCraft bet, you’ll be putting your money on which player will destroy his adversary’s base the most times and win the match. For example, if the match is best of three and your chosen player wins two matches (maps), you’ll win your bet. Watch out for the different names sportsbooks use for this kind of bet, like “straight” or “head to head”. Odds for this type of StarCraft 2 betting are determined by recent form and skill levels of each player.
- Map Winner: In map winner betting, you’ll be trying to predict which player will win an individual battle, played on one map.
- Correct Map Score: This is where you bet on how many of the maps each player will win in a match. For example you can back your favourite player to win 3-2 in a best of five game. This kind of bet can be quite tricky to win, with odds usually reflective of that fact.
- Outright Winner: One of the most popular bets for StarCraft 2, this is where you bet on who you think will be the overall winner of any given tournament.
Where to bet on STARCRAFT
SC2’s steady flow of online and LAN tournament players, means there are now lots of sportsbooks out there providing StarCraft odds. Here are some of the best offers and where to find them:
- GGBET: Somewhat an Esports specialist, covering DOTA 2, Counterstrike and LOL betting, GGBet offer markets on all common StarCraft betting markets, like map betting, match winner and outright winner. They also offer live betting options as well as StarCraft tips.
- Pinnacle: While Pinnacle don’t offer a huge number of markets for StarCraft 2 betting, they include all those you would expect from a sportsbook covering Esports. They also offer handicap markets, this is where you’re confident a player will win a match so you bet on him with a handicap in order to maximise your potential winnings.
- Unibet: This renowned sportsbook offers StarCraft odds on match betting, handicaps, and outright betting, as well as the possibility to bet on whether or not a match will go into overtime. They cover a wide range of Esports leagues and competitions, however map betting is only available for some matches, usually depending on the type of game and level of competition.
Tips & Strategies on Betting on STARCRAFT
Unfortunately, none of us are psychic (unless there are any Protoss reading this), which means perfectly predicting the outcome of future events is impossible. However, with these StarCraft tips and strategies, hopefully you’ll be able to get the most out of your bets.
While always betting on pre-tournament favourites may seem like a sure-fire way to win money, upsets are common in StarCraft Esports. So, we’d suggest researching extensively before taking a punt.
Watch for Up & Comers
While strong previous Premier tournament performances obviously indicate that a player is talented, competitive Esports is ever-changing with new players appearing on the scene every few months. With this in mind, it’s important to also pay attention to minor tournaments. Try to find out which players are on an upward trajectory and have a chance of making an impact in a Premier or Major competition.
Take Note of Game Changes
Another way to keep you informed before betting on StarCraft 2 is to stay up to date with changes in the game’s maps, weapons and utilities. Like most game developers, Blizzard Entertainment are constantly adding updates and improvements to SC2, which can often tip the scale in favour of certain players, teams, or races.
Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent
Keep an eye on underperforming players and fallen giants, like players who were favourites for a previous tournament but failed to deliver.
Such players can often be good bets for a tournament as most high level players are part of teams formed by Esports organisations, who employ managers, coaches and psychologists for their players. This means that a famous player in poor form is never likely to stay that way for too long. Their talent, combined with the extensive infrastructure around them, means they will usually come back stronger before long.
Lastly, remember that like in any other sport, luck and human error are important factors in StarCraft Esports. Even the world’s best player can have a bad day, or be distracted by an untimely bout of sneezing!
Where to watch StarCraft
Like most Esports nowadays, you can watch StarCraft 2 being played on Twitch, a hugely popular broadcaster which provides live streams of individual matches, as well as tournaments.
As always, YouTube is also an option for live streaming and match replays or highlights.
And finally, remember that many sportsbooks themselves also provide live Esports streams via their websites, although some require membership and/or an active bet.