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Published: January 24, 2024

Written by: Stefan Velikov


Last year was quite successful for esports despite the many changes the most popular titles underwent. This resulted in Counter-Strike, League of Legends, and Dota 2 getting the overwhelming share of esports bets and engagement from punters globally.

Abios Shares Interesting Data

As esports becomes more popular, so does betting on them, and as the field matures, there comes the need for specialized services that provide the tools and data needed to build esports projects at scale. Abios is one such prominent company that provides data for popular titles such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike, VALORANT, Dota 2, and many more.

Recently, Abios revealed which titles were most popular to bet on during 2023 and the data is quite fascinating. By far the most popular esports to bet on during last year, with a whopping 56% of the shares of esports bets going to its related events, is Counter-Strike 2.

Following the popular shooter, albeit with less than half the popularity in terms of esports betting, is League of Legends. According to Abios’ data, the game gathered about 24% of global esports bets across its events last year. Staying on the MOBA wave, Dota 2 comes in third place for the most popular game to bet on during 2023, accumulating about 12% of the global esports bets.

Abios' most bet esports.
Image: Abios

Counter-Strike Claims the Top

Considering the popularity and age of the entire Counter-Strike franchise, perhaps it should not be too surprising that the game takes the top spot for the most popular esports of last year. However, we should not underestimate the hype that was generated when CS2 was announced in the winter of 2023. Although the actual release happened many months later, the news prompted a lot of players to return to or pick up its predecessor, CS:GO.

All of this fed to the esports side of the game as well, with many events racking up huge viewership numbers. The BLAST Paris Major scored the third-highest peak viewership in no small part due to the fact it was the last such event to be played on CS:GO before the game was updated to CS2 a few months later.

Another factor that plays in Counter-Strake’s favor is the fact that the year is packed with events for the game. Popular tournament organizer BLAST’s circuit is just one of the many events that fans can keep track of during the year, but many other organizations also jumped on the hype train and announced they will be hosting various events. Interestingly, the game might have been a victim of its own success, as November saw CS2 hit an all-time low in player numbers.

However, over the past couple of months, the player base jumped back to higher numbers, and it seems the trend is for the game to slowly but surely increase in popularity. According to SteamCharts, CS2 currently hovers at about 800 000 average players, and with the BLAST Spring Groups currently underway, chances are more fans will tune in to watch and wager on their favorite teams.

League of Legends Follows Second

Having a share of about 24%, LoL esports comes in second place with quite a large gap compared to CS. Despite that, these numbers still mean a quarter of esports betting went to the franchise and its many events. This should not be surprising, as League of Legends has been a popular esports for more than a decade and each year usually sees its popularity grow at least a bit.

During 2023, LoL esports underwent many changes to its format changes which could have negatively impacted its popularity as fans might have not liked the new things. However, considering League of Legends saw 6.4 million in peak viewership, a figure outlined by a 25% year-to-year growth, these don’t seem to have had a bad effect on the quality of the game.

This year promises even more changes, such as the Japanese League merging with the PCS. It’s still unknown how these things would affect the popularity of the game, but considering 2023 saw such success, chances are this year will be the same.

Dota 2 Comes In Third

With about 14% of global esports bets being cast on Dota 2, the game takes the third spot in Abios’ list. As traditional, a majority of the viewers of Dota 2 esports came from the CIS region. However, considering these states’ lower combined population, compared to Europe and the Americas, where CS and LoL were more popular, it makes sense that the viewership of Dota 2 would also be smaller.

However, the fact that Valve, in an attempt to improve Dota 2 grassroots events, removed the Dota 2 Pro Circuit in September, might have had a negative effect on the ecosystem. On the other hand, this was done relatively late in the year, so its impact is probably not that big. Additionally, 2024 will likely see more smaller events which could drive more fans to get into the game. Some pro players seem to agree, like Nightfall, who thinks the new DPC system is better, as the older one felt stale and boring.

Conclusion

Despite 2023 seeing quite a lot of change in the aforementioned titles’ respective esports scenes, this does not seem to have had a negative impact on the ecosystems. Counter-Strike and League of Legends saw player base and viewership records, and it’s highly likely these numbers will grow despite the gameplay changes and revamped tournament structures the game received, respectively.

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