How to Bet on Overwatch with Legal eSports Wagering Coming to Colorado
Photo credit: David Patlut/ESPAT Media/Getty Images.
There are sports on the horizon, but none quite yet. So in the meantime, let’s say you wanted to diversify your wagering and dip into eSports. You can go the murder-death-kill route with CS:GO. You can go intensely complicated with League of Legends and DOTA 2. You can go with simulated sports for the NBA (NBA2K) or NFL (Madden).
Or you can go with Overwatch.
The Basics of Overwatch
Let’s go over some basics for the uninitiated. The Overwatch League is an eSports league built around the Blizzard Entertainment (Starcraft, World of Warcraft) first-person shooter and strategy game, Overwatch. It’s comprised of two teams of six players, with two players as tanks, two players as support (healers) and two players as DPS (Damage Per Second, or attack).
Unlike CS:GO, it’s not a game built on targeting. Getting eliminations helps, but each round is decided by an objective based on three designs: control, assault and escort.
On control maps, you and the opponent fight over a designated area (“the point”). The time you hold it counts up on a percentage meter. Wins are driven by holding it until the meter hits 100%.
On assault, one team defends two separate points, while the attacking team has to claim each point within a time frame. In the Overwatch League, both teams get a turn on both offense and defense.
Escort maps involve a “payload,” a moving vehicle that begins moving when an attacking player comes within a short range of it, and stops when either no attacking players are within that range or a defending player is also within that range. (That’s called “contesting” the payload.) Teams have 2-3 objective points under a time limit to move the payload to.
There are also hybrid maps where you have to claim an objective point in order to secure the payload and then move it to a destination.
How to Bet on Overwatch
You can bet on these games now. Colorado sportsbooks, which launch today, are able to offer eSports odds, including on Overwatch.
There are 20 teams in the Overwatch League, with each match based on five sets of games across five maps. So it’s a best-of-5 contest essentially, which is how the lines below are represented.
A match advantage of -1.5 means the favorite is favored to win 3-1 at least. That would mean that one team is expected to win three rounds, with each round a control, assault, escort or hybrid map.
As an example, if on an escort map, the Fusion took the payload to three objectives, while their opponent, the Shock, carried only two objectives, the Fusion would win the round, 3-2, good for one point and a 1-0 lead. (Think of it like matches in tennis.)
There are also moneylines available, which is just betting on which team will win. It’s the same as betting the moneyline for the Los Angeles Lakers to win, for example.
Each week in Overwatch League (and in the game across all platforms for all players), certain heroes are “banned” and unplayable. For the 2020 regular season Week 12, for example, those heroes were the gigantic horse shield tank Orisa, the pain-in-the-backside time-dashing Tracer, and Moira, who has an unlockable skin based on David Bowie, which is just awesome.
Those hero bans can directly swing results. If a team is hyper-reliant on a dominant DPS McCree (a cowboy gunslinger), and they’re facing a team with an excellent Pharah (an Egyptian rocket-launching soldier with a jetpack … “the one that flies”), and McCree is banned, that team faces big issues. Those kinds of swings can be the difference in a 3-1 and a 3-2 result, even if the team missing McCree is better across the board.
The issues are greater for tanks, who provide, shield, absorb damage and, most importantly, make space for the rest of the team.
When Are Games?
Games occur in Asia Friday night/Saturday morning and Saturday night/Sunday morning around 2 a.m. ET and 4 a.m. ET. The U.S. matches take place Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
What to Bet
The moneylines on Overwatch League are typically pretty steep in juice for a best-of-5 matchup, because the disparity can be just as steep. But just like with most sports, when two teams of equal ranking play each other, you can find MLs beneath -200 for the favorite.
The better lines are match advantage bets. Most lines are -1.5/+1.5, meaning if you like the underdog they just have to take two rounds/maps, and if you like the favorite they can win 3-0 or 3-1.
The +2.5 line that occasionally pops seems like a golden idea given that you’re talking about just one win. But that’s usually reserved for the absolute dregs of the league, as I discovered when taking the league-worst Boston Uprising, who I felt fit into a little better situation with the hero bans.
They lost in a sweep, 3-0.
But the -1.5 lines are ripe for using hero ban analysis and matchup compositions to find value.
You can also bet by map, essentially betting round-by-round. This would be a lot more sustainable if the map schemes were revealed in advance. If you could be sure you’re betting on a team that’s good at control maps on a control map, there’s value. But the schedule for the maps isn’t released in advance.
This does mean there’s value in live betting, however. If you can ascertain a team is running on a control map, there are sites that provide stats on various win rates per map type. (The New York Excelsior, as of this writing, are 6-0 on escort maps, for example.)
As of right now, individual player props aren’t available, but those are foreseeable in the future, especially for stats like eliminations and healing done. This is a very bettable game.
How to Find Edges
Beyond the usual internet research of game previews and tracking social media posts, there are some great stats available. OWLStats includes strength of schedule and advanced stats at a team level. The official Overwatch League stats lab has a variety of dashboards to find useful metrics.
My personal favorite is the Hero Usage map to get a sense for which heroes each team plays. For example:
Overwatch League is based on a stable platform, with interesting team comps to provide edge and compelling dynamics. It also has long-term viability, with Overwatch 2 on the horizon from Blizzard Entertainment.