There a number of markets to bet on in esports, in this article we cover Handicap betting and explain how a handicap bet works in esports.
Handicap betting in esports
In Handicap betting, the ‘handicap’ is a virtual advantage, or disadvantage, that is given to a team by a bookmaker prior to the start of a game. The goal of this type of bet is to provide bettors with a market that makes the perceived chances of a team winning more equal.
When a team is perceived to be stronger than their opponent, they are given a negative handicap, represented by the negative symbol, while on the other end the weaker team will be given a positive handicap, represented by the positive symbol.
While the premise of Handicap betting is the same for every esports game, different genres like first-person shooters (FPS) and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games can present the Handicap in different ways.
In a traditional sport like soccer, a Handicap bet can be settled in three ways: win, loss or tie (push). In esports however, the majority of matches played will have one team win and one team lose, with the rare occasion of a draw if the tournament structure allows for it.
League of Legends and Dota 2 Handicap betting
In MOBAs such as League of Legends and Dota 2, a Handicap is available when a match is played as Best-of-Three (Bo3) and is typically set at +1.5 and -1.5 prior to the start.
When placing a bet on a team at +1.5, the team is given an advantage of +1.5 games prior to the start of the Bo3 with the bet paid out if the team manages to win one game in the set or win the match overall.
Conversely, a bet on a team at -1.5 means a team is given a disadvantage of -1.5 games before the start of the Bo3 match, meaning the team has to win the match in two straight games for a -1.5 Handicap bet to win.
Handicap betting isn’t mutually exclusive to games played in a match in LoL and Dota 2, Pinnacle also offers Handicap markets on the kills that take place within a game. The range of the Handicap for kills is typically between -5.5 to +5.5, however, each matchup is priced accordingly with the appropriate Handicap applied based on the teams and games being played.
A Kill Handicap functions exactly the same as a traditional Handicap. For example, a bet on a team with a -5.5 Kill Handicap means that to win the bet the team has to have more than 5.5 kills over the opponents kill score by the end of a game and vice-versa for a +5.5 Kill Handicap. A Kill Handicap is not reliant on the team winning or losing overall and is solely a bet on the kills a team could get in a game.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Handicap betting
Similar to MOBAs, first-person shooter titles like CS:GO are typically played in a Bo3 format with the Handicap set at +1.5 and -1.5. In some cases, like for a Major Final, games are played in a Best-of-Five (Bo5) format with the Handicap set at +2.5 and -2.5. Again, the Handicap functions exactly the same as previous examples with a team at +2.5 needing to win two games out of the five in the Bo5 set or to win the match overall to be paid.
Aside from the traditional Handicap, Pinnacle also offers a Handicap market on the rounds played by a team. To briefly summarise, CS:GO is played over 30 rounds with the first team to score 16 rounds, or win an overtime, winning the game overall. The range for a Round Handicap is +7.5 to -7.5, thus a team listed at +7.5 on the Round Handicap needs to win seven or more rounds for a bet to be paid, while a team with a -7.5 Round Handicap needs to win by eight or more rounds over the opponents round score.
Overwatch League Handicap betting
Unlike other esports titles that are played in a Bo3 format, the OWL is played as a Bo5 with the first team to win three out of five maps considered the winner. The Handicap for an Overwatch League game is usually presented as +1.5, -1.5, +2.5 and -2.5, there are no ties that exist.
As noted previously, a bet on a team with a +1.5 map Handicap only requires the team to win one map to be paid, while a +2.5 Handicap requires two games. A bet on a team with a -1.5 Handicap requires the team to win the match with a two map lead while a -2.5 Handicap implies that the team has to win in three straight maps.