The last few months has seen a dearth of real live sporting action, with the coronavirus pandemic having seen the vast majority of events around the world either postponed or cancelled altogether.
Football has been particularly badly hit, with the European Championship 2023 having had to be put back a year and all the major domestic football leagues being suspended for varying lengths of time.
There is now light at the end of the tunnel, with the Bundesliga back in action and other major competitions such as the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A all looking to return to action in June. Other sports are also gradually starting to get back to action, but in the meantime Virtual Sports and Esports have helped to fill the huge void for both sports and online betting enthusiasts.
With Virtual Sports and Esports competitions taking place online, they are unaffected by lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions that have so impacted on live sports. This makes them perfect under the current circumstances for bookmakers and punters alike.
For football betting fans, eSoccer has proved particularly popular, but why have football betting fans turned to it in such numbers during the current crisis?
Esoccer is used to describe FIFA or PES Esports tournaments, which vast numbers of people play on their PlayStation (PS) or Xbox consoles every day. In addition, betting on Esoccer is almost identical to betting on real live games, with all the same betting markets being available.
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The leading online bookmakers such as bet365, Betway and 888Sport offer comprehensive coverage of eSoccer, with hundreds of games every day across a variety of great competitions.
There are literally just minutes between matches and the superb graphics, commentary and atmosphere provided all add to the excitement.
Most Esoccer tournaments are contested using EA Sports’ FIFA video game franchise; specifically the Ultimate Team mode. This allows players to assemble a squad from cards, with each featuring a real footballer and reflecting their abilities. These cards can be collected or traded.
There is also the opportunity for Esoccer players to select certain footballing icons for their teams in some instances (Liga Pro), with this year’s roster including the likes of Pele and Ruud Gullit. There can be matches where Pele and Gullit are playing in the same team, or Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are lining up together. That’s clearly something that isn’t an option with the real game and adds a great novelty value to the games in seeing how players from different eras fare against each other.
The coronavirus pandemic also led to League Two’s Leyton Orient creating the “Ultimate QuaranTeam” which resulted in 128 clubs competing against each other on the FIFA 20 video game. The teams, which came from all the top four English divisions, as well as the likes of La Liga, Serie A, Eredivisie and beyond, played in a knockout competition similar to the FA Cup, with the winning team having to navigate their way through seven matches to be crowned champions.
Among the star names taking part were Premier League footballers Andros Townsend, Neal Maupay and Todd Cantwell, who represented Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich City respectively.
The Grand Final saw Wolverhampton Wanderers taking on Groningen from the Dutch Eredivisie, with Wolves running out 2-1 winners. The Premier League team’s march to the final saw them beat Adelaide United, Sligo Rovers, Grimsby Town, Mansfield Town, FC Sion and Standard Liege. The magic of the cup!
Esoccer provides a variety of tournaments that cater to the interest of fans. For example, there’s Esoccer Battle (essentially club matches played over 8 minutes), Esoccer Live Arena (international matches played over 10 minutes) and Esoccer Liga Pro (12 minutes). There are also other matches and tournaments played over a shorter time.
There are also a vast number of matches to choose from, with Esoccer Battle alone sometimes providing in the region of 300 matches per day. It’s important to note that in the likes of Esoccer Battle, you are essentially betting on the players against each other, not one team playing against the other. It’s the individual players whose records and form are important and this is where your betting should be focused.
For example, in a game between CSKA Moscow (Hrusch) and Spartak Moscow (lion), you need to compare the results between the two players – Hrusch and lion – rather than the two clubs.
Studying the Form
As with the real thing, prior to placing any bets on Esoccer you can go through rankings, past match results and form guides among various other statistics in order to gain additional insights.
Typically the initial markets available with bookmakers for any Esoccer game will be the Match Result and the Total Goals (Over/Under) scored. Just prior to kick-off other bets will become available, including all the traditional favourites such as Asian Handicap, Team to Score 1st Goal, Correct Score, Total Goals (Odd/Even), Next Goal, 3-Way Handicap, etc.
As stated previously, real live football is already beginning to return at the highest level and (a second wave of Covid-19 notwithstanding), more of the leading European leagues are due to be back in action within weeks (albeit minus spectators).
Even so, there is now a new legion of Esoccer betting fans out there and many of them will now back both forms of the game or perhaps even stay loyal to the simulated version, preferring the shorter versions of the game and with the knowledge that they will never see their bets suspended due to bad weather, financial concerns or global pandemics.