Following the success of the ongoing Pinnacle Cup series, our Global Esports Partnership Manager, Stuart Bridges, spoke to Esports Journal Latam about how investment in the grassroots of the esports community is key to delivering a better betting product in the long run.

Fierce competition is what makes for a great spectator sport. One-sided match-ups and easily predicted formats aren’t enticing for viewers or bettors. There needs to be jeopardy and an element of the unknown for a sense of real entertainment. Every industry stakeholder should be looking to do what they can to ensure the regular thrill of close-call esports contests, and improving investment in the grassroots of our industry is one way of going about delivering this.

From a trading point of view, it tends to be clear prior to the event how competitive it is likely to be. Close call match-ups will always be reflected in the odds and tend to make for the most exciting action, while huge favourites are almost certain to win and will inevitably turn off the neutral fan, as well as bettors who want bigger returns.

We’re actively investing in grassroots to level the playing field. Not only do we get better esports entertainment that way, but it’s also a great way to support and drive professionalism with teams that may not have had the opportunity to perform on the centre stage in front of the big crowds.

We hope, and are already seeing, that this progression will lead to more events, better infrastructure, and more prosperous, competitive teams. We want this cycle to keep up its momentum. We can’t rest and expect esports growth to continue along as we’ve seen it, and that’s why we took the proactive step and launched the Pinnacle Cup.

Recently concluded, the first CS:GO edition saw Gambit take home the lion’s share of the $100,000 prize pool, with HAVU Gaming coming in a close second after some epic battles through the Playoff Stage to qualify for the finals. Partnering with teams and events is nothing new to us, but having creative control over the Pinnacle Cup allowed us to elevate our efforts to a new level which wouldn’t have been possible through more traditional sponsorship arrangements.

Five million-plus unique viewers consumed over two million hours’ worth of Pinnacle Cup content over the month long event. These are significant numbers for a fresh launch, and we’ve got to give credit to our data and streaming partners who took a month’s worth of intense competition to the audience in a seamless, hugely engaging manner.

Underpinned throughout by unique content, which was localised in multiple languages, we were able to deliver our sportsbook partners with the betting opportunities that the CS:GO fans resonate with. It takes huge resource to deliver a market-leading esports betting product. Modelling requirements are complex with esports data infrastructure still maturing, and esports trading expertise is rare. These resource-heavy demands have led to a divergence between two types of esports operator.

There are those who take it seriously and engage on a higher level with the esports fan to offer something more than just basic Money Lines. This means varied title-specific markets, sharper prices and a seamless live product with greater uptime. Then there’s those who fall into the ‘build it and they will come’ camp, expecting rich returns from a supposedly lucrative audience that’s easy pickings for incoming sportsbooks.

Simply put, the latter get found out. Esports fans are savvy. They want to be treated with respect and offered a product that fits with their idea of what esports betting looks like, rather than being delivered an adaptation of a sports betting product which has little reference to what makes esports so unique and special.

Our approach, which sees partners kitted out with an authentic, bespoke esports betting product, while driving funding and support to grassroots esports teams and industry stakeholders with a view to a better-positioned industry down the line, has proven successful to date and we want to take it further.

The article has been adapted from the original publication in Esports Journal Latam.

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