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Stoyan Todorov June 17, 2022 7 min read
Esports Roundtable: Sergey Tsukanov and Dinos Stranomitis Talk Esports, Data, and the Future
Today we sit down to talk with Dinos Stranomitis, COO and Co-Founder of Altenar, and Sergey Tsukanov, Head of Sportsbook at BETBY to discuss the ever-more important phenomenon of esports and how it ties traditional sports betting experience. Data plays an important part in monetizing and tapping into the esports vertical and both executives agree. Find out what they think about esports and where the segment is today. Find out what they think about esports and where the segment is today.
Q: Talk us through your vision for Esports 2022 – what’s going to be key this year – growth or retention?
(DS) The last couple of years of the pandemic has prompted significant changes in the industry, causing a rise in demand for Esports, a trend which is set to continue to grow throughout 2022. Altenar is embracing this movement, we envision ourselves as being one of the leading providers of Esports content having already incorporated Oddin’s Esport catalog, now accessible to our operating partners and their customers.
In line with these changing market trends – we’re seeing the next generation of players now come online, which allows us to truly tailor content to what players are looking for. As part of that, we definitely see engagement and retention as key – as it is now our job to maintain the interest of players who have been attracted to Esports in the last few years.
(ST) It’s important for brands to give equal attention to both phenomena, depending on what position they find themselves in. Retention is necessary for the established players in the esports space, while growth and attracting new customers is always going to be crucial for emerging operators.
esports is a hugely popular vertical, and we see interest in it rising year after year. Players from the esports community are not as conservative as those who follow classic sports, so it requires real entertainment and engaging products to make them stick. For us, the key will be expanded into a number of new markets, as well as the broadening of the number of esports competitions we provide.
Q: Looking back at the last 24 months, what major milestones have you seen that you believe to be key to powering the vertical’s transition from niche to mainstream?
(ST) I believe that a lot of people overestimated the speed at which esports would become mainstream, which has resulted in a large number of start-ups folding. That said, we’re seeing growth, as well as an increase in the number of players, and an increase in average size of stakes bet on our esports products.
While the pandemic did turn even more attention to esports, the market just needs more time to mature in order for the audience to grow, both in size and in terms of the requirements it demands.
(DS) The pandemic has played a major part, and it has certainly spurred the niche to its mainstream transition, with gamers finding it easier to access virtual gaming than accessing sports events, as they simply couldn’t take place.
A growing culture of content-reliant and content-heavy industries adds a layer of empowerment to growth of Esports, it’s simpler to cross from a Netflix tab to a League of Legends tab via phone or desktop. The seamless technology found in mobiles has reached an incredible level, because of this access to virtual games and Esports has elevated gaming on the go and ease of accessibility.
Q: Most Esports suppliers would make the case that data is the major differentiator when it comes to setting your brand apart from the competition – how essential do you believe it to be?
(DS) Data is essential to Esports and a major differentiating factor as well, but this can be said for all sports betting. It is when data, content and experience meet in the middle that we see a differentiator essential to setting a brand apart.
Altenar has established itself as the sportsbook provider of choice for multiple leading operators proving itself as one of the most stable and flexible platforms on the market by implementing the use of several top data providers which allows us to differentiate from the competition.
(ST) Data is important, but equally so as is risk management, as is how a brand markets itself and its product to clients.
You rarely see a platform that features detailed scoreboards or live trackers on the markets for players to be able to find all the information they need. Data can differentiate a brand from its competitors, but so can the quality of the interface and user experience, which influenced our decision to redesign our sportsbook’s aesthetic and key functions.
Q: What sets different Esports data providers apart? Are the likes of Genius and Sportradar leaders in this field, and how far has the integrity of data come compared to other live sports in the last two years?
(DS) The content the provider offers, and the data is what sets providers apart. Definitely Betgenius, Oddin, and Sportradar are leaders in the industry, and this is the level Altenar aims to be at for their Esports offering.
As the games being bet on are virtual the data, outcomes, and minute-by-minute play are less likely to be rigged. On top of that, there is a tremendous difference in latency times.
Over the past two years bettors, new and seasoned are beginning to trust Esports results and data more, which could be one of the influencing factors of the niche reaching the mainstream. I certainly believe that we’re now approaching a similar level of integrity to traditional sports, and we’ve certainly got exciting times ahead.
(ST) Live data has improved drastically over the past year or two and has made life much easier for our risk management managers, while also improving the quality of the product that we can provide.
There’s no doubt that Genius Sports and Sportradar have earned their impressive reputations, and this allows us to thrive in the space. Data in esports is very important, and like all betting events, integrity is key, and something that we’re making significant strides in the space.
Q: Last but not least, looking ahead to 2023 and beyond – what’s your vision for the vertical and its growth? With a current average of up to 30,000+ live events each month, how much do you see this multiplying?
(DS) Esports is vertical to watch, it will most certainly continue its impressive growth with still so much potential for products not explored yet. Of course, traditional sports will always have a place in sports betting, but we predict greater adoption of Esport in 2023 and beyond – there’s just too much in demand right now for it not to!
After all, in essence, 30,000+ live events each month could double in size due to it being virtual – which means that a host of games or events could be created that hasn’t been thought of yet and that’s very exciting for us.
(ST) I see the same thing happening with esports as what happened with regular sports betting markets around a decade ago, were more sports and tournaments started to get covered, and the infrastructure grew and grew, and now look at the behemoth we have now.
There is a feeling that in some areas of sports betting, there is no more space to grow. Mainstream sports markets that get covered by multiple providers and platforms, such as football, tennis, and basketball, no longer see meteoric rises in terms of the numbers of users betting on them and the size of their bets, as there is no longer the thrill factor that arrives with the new products and tournaments. This is mirrored somewhat in esports, where established products already need to add new bet types.
The place where the number of live events can still grow considerably is of course esports, where sports like Cricket and Kabaddi – both of which are extremely popular in India but lack the number of events and competitions as other sports – have the potential to become real staples of offering.