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What’s The Difference Between Esports and Virtual Sports

What’s The Difference Between Esports and Virtual Sports

All North American sports have been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic with no dates set for when they will begin again. MLB has said that its season won’t start until mid-May at the earliest and the other major sports will follow suit, I’m sure. However, many of the teams that are on hiatus are starting to turn to video games to play out their seasons.

One of the first teams to start this trend was the Phoenix Suns playing NBA 2K20 where they simulate their games on popular video game live-streaming channel Twitch. The Suns have been hiring pro athletes to control the teams, with Keenan Allen and Tony Jefferson tipping off on Friday night. The Washington Capitals built on this idea by having professional gamers play as their team and other NHL teams have done the same for the video game NHL 20.

The latest league to get in on esports was NASCAR holding its Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on iRacing with 30 NASCAR drivers competing in a 100-lap online race.

Online sportsbooks have jumped on board by putting out betting lines for these games and races. The NBA 2K League is holding a 3-on-3 exhibition tournament beginning Friday, March 27. The official league was set to begin on that day but has been delayed due to COVID-19.

The sportsbooks also have their own virtual sports that you can wager on with a basketball league, soccer, horse racing, greyhound racing, racecars and even camel racing. Each of these has betting options like normal sports with moneyline and totals markets. As for the races, they have the winner, place, show, exacta and trifecta options.

If you’re new to esports and simulated sports, we at Odds Shark have a great guide to walk you through the process of wagering on it. As far as placing an educated bet, many of the sportsbooks have recent matchups and statistics for their own virtual sports, whereas for the NBA 2K20, NHL 20, iRacing, etc., social media can help out to learn about the gamers and track previous performances.

Why People Are Turning To Esports

If you think this is foolish, know that for the Suns’ online game vs the Timberwolves on Wednesday, March 18, when Ty Jerome took on Josh Okogie, there were 14,000 viewers on the game. Of the entire NBA 2K category on Twitch, there were only 19,682 total viewers so a high percentage tuned in to that game.

Having the ability to place wagers on these games fills the void of actual sports and they are usually entertaining with trash talk and big personalities throughout. Now, I’m not sure if you want to place max bomb wagers on these games, but if you know that there’s a gamer going against a guy who doesn’t play very often, you might be able to take advantage of the betting lines there. For example, Keenan Allen pounded Tony Jefferson 102-59 when they played on Friday.

And esports don’t involve just conventional sports, as there are other games such as Counter-Strike and Call of Duty, among others, that have daily competitions you can wager on.

What Are Virtual Sports?

At many sportsbooks, you will see the option for esports or virtual sports and you may be thinking that they are one and the same. As talked about above, esports have people controlling the players and are usually streamed on Twitch. Virtual sports are done completely through the books and are simulated games or races you can wager on.

These simulations happen quickly, with a basketball game taking only a few minutes, and as soon as it ends, another one tips off a couple of minutes later – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Unlike esports, where betting on it seems like throwing a dart at a dartboard, virtual sports typically have recent results and even statistics if it’s a basketball or soccer league, showing recent trends, records, points for and against and home/away splits.

Esports or Virtual Sports: What’s Right For You?

Both options can be exciting to wager on but have different feels to them. For me, esports are more entertaining because you get to know the people controlling the video game so you may root for or against people you like or dislike. With the trash talk and engagement of the Twitch feeds, it feels more personable and fun.

Virtual sports almost feel like a slot machine to me with new games or races starting every minute. What makes them better, though, is that they provide some entertainment watching the competition and with the stats and recent results, you can actually find edges to make stronger wagers rather than just pulling a slot machine arm.

Overall, there are a lot of markets open for both esports and virtual sports. It’s just a matter of whether you want rapid action with virtual sports or longer played out esports.