PandaScore Q&A: Sportsbooks Need to Develop Esports

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Esports AI data company PandaScore has set itself the ambitious goal of offering ground-breaking live betting and esports data. Yet, the company’s plans are much more ambitious and PandaScore is determined to drive engagement within the esports industry as a whole. And while Tesla uses AI to operate autonomous cars, PandaScore uses the same technology on spurring growth in esports by processing hundreds of data points every half a second.

Q: What is PandaScore and how does it help esports fans enhance their experience?

Flavien Guillocheau (founder): PandaScore is a data provider leveraging AI to collect and analyse a massive amount of data on esports. Our role is to help companies build fans experience we work and provide data to media, TVs or Sportsbooks. 

Our approach is to always provide as much data as possible and thanks to AI we are very strong in live data collection. The depth and quality is mandatory if we want our customers to build the best fans experience. 

Q: How does PandaScore collect its data and how accurate is it? Is it better than traditional sports data we see displayed during an NBA game, for example?

Flavien : PandaScore uses a branch of AI called Computer Vision, it’s the same type of technology that autonomous cars like Tesla use in their autopilot feature. Simply put algorithms are analysing the pixels of a video feed extrapolating patterns, shapes, and converting them into data. We can recognize a player and everything they are doing. 

Computer Vision is more accurate (99.9% accuracy), faster, and  more cost effective than using humans to record data. We can collect hundreds of data points every half a second whereas humans can only record a 4 or 5 data points every couple of seconds. What AI can do is much more powerful than manual data collection. It’s changing what data is available in esports and will do the same with sports in the future.

Q: Do you think your project will have applications beyond esports betting and aid individuals and companies developing data-driven projects in the esports space?

Flavien :  Yes, this is actually why we started the company. We’ve been providing data to the esports ecosystem for the past 4 years. From big sports media, television broadcasts, to Professional teams and fantasy apps. We decided to [start] serving betting customers due to the huge demand we’ve seen from sportsbooks for high quality esports data.

We can collect hundreds of data points every half a second whereas humans can only record a 4 or 5 data points every couple of seconds.

Esports betting plays an important role in the ecosystem today and in the future, driving one of the largest sources of revenue for esports. Our vision as a company is to help esports grow by providing the data resource for any business to build it’s product. Bookmakers are some of the most data dependent companies out there. We’re excited to work with them just as much as teams.

Q: After your recent partnership with PA Media, what other deals do you have lined up? Do you see yourself working with endemic and non-endemic bookmakers?

Flavien : We’re excited to be working with PA Media, they’ve been a helpful partner. As for forthcoming partnerships, it’s not something we can communicate for now but we plan on announcing a lot of cool things later this year. 

Bookmakers that don’t take esports seriously will lose their place in the ranks to the ones that do.

Bookmakers, endemic or not, all have the same challenges with esports betting: the inability to offer in-play markets at the same level as sports, unnecessary downtime preventing betting during a large part of the game, and offering a high level of markets across all the competitions. We think esports betting doesn’t have distinction between endemic or non-endemic. We’re happy to help any and all bookmakers that want to provide a quality esports product. 

Currently, if you’re going after 30+ year old punters, you’ll offer sports and will add-on esports as most have. If you’re targeting 20+ year olds, which is what the big bookmakers need to survive into the future, esports becomes more important every day. Bookmakers that don’t take esports seriously will lose their place in the ranks to the ones that do. I know many esports fans betting on top sites like Bet365 or Pinnacle and those bookmakers are making great margins on esports.

Q: What markets do you think have the most potential when it comes to esports?

Flavien : Esports is all about the live experience and interactivity. Esports is built for in-play markets. They are key if you want to offer a good product for the fans. Right now the volume is more on pre-match because you will find most of the time that all markets are suspended a couple minutes into the game, which pushes esports fans away.

Esports specific markets bring in the fans , which team is going to win the next map, get the next Tower destruction, or the Dragon kill. It’s also important that we continue to innovate and test a wide variety of market types that make sense for each game title. Fans want to feel authenticity in the bookmaker’s offer, they speak a language and they expect the same from the bookmaker. 

Q: Clearly you already cover the main competitive games out there, including League of Legends, CSGO, Dota 2 and Overwatch. Do you think you will expand into mobile gaming as well? 

Flavien : Mobile gaming is very interesting in Asia already so yes we plan on expanding there. In the western world it’s still early but we see more and more good esports titles coming to mobile, like Clash Royale with a $1M prize pool for the World Finals a few weeks ago. The good thing with our approach is that it’s quite easy to launch new esports mobile, PC, console, or any other future platforms we haven’t seen yet. 

Q: How can esports team benefit from using your data?

Flavien : We are working with some of the top professional teams in the world. There are mainly three ways to leverage our data. 

  • Coaching: the coaching staff uses our deep historical database to search for opponents weaknesses but also to improve their players weaknesses.
  • Recruitment: the coaching staff analyzes our database for amount of matches played to identify unspotted talent.
  • Content Creation: teams use our data as a means to communicate about the performance of the team and the players. It’s very engaging and creates a lot of high quality content.

Q: Speaking of esports betting, do you think esports fans are open to the industry or they perceive it with mistrust?

Flavien : I don’t think esports fans have any problem with regulated betting. I think they might not know about it. That explains why the few bookmakers doing advertising in esports works so well and the others work less. 

When you look at esports betting history,Skin Gambling is impossible to ignore. The wager volume was colossal growing to 7B$+ in a year and a half. Esports fans are happy to bet the same as any sports fan out there.

Q: Do you feel that esports fans may be too young to engage with bookmakers in the first place, as many of the players aren’t of legal age yet?

Flavien : People often mixed gamers and esports fans. Gamers are indeed on average underaged. But esports fans are older and more mature. When you interviewed Ian Smith from ESIC, he confirmed that it’s a myth that all esports athletes are teenagers. It takes a long time to become a pro in the top games.

This isn’t isolated to esports, it applies to sports as well. There are plenty of underage spectators watching football matches each week. It’s important that safety measures are in place to prevent underage betting. We think regulation of betting is good for this exact reason and we’re happy to see those discussions advancing in many different jurisdictions. 

Q: Is there anything you would like to add? I am sure our readers would be thrilled to know about any upcoming events and developments around the platform.

Flavien : Esports betting is here to stay whether you’re offering it or not. It’s already big part of the money spent in esports and it’s going to continue to grow to a massive size in the future. We’ve managed to release a proper esports odds feed for 5 esports now and we are going to launch more new esports with the same methodology, expect Fortnite, Call of Duty and much more next year. 

Image credit: PandaScore.co

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