Counter Strike is one of esports oldest games. It’s been around in some form or another since 2000, where it started as a Half-Life mod. It was then purchased by Valve, and became one of their flagship titles. Now, almost 20 years, two versions, and millions of dollars later, we have CS:GO.
Counter Strike is a FPS, played by two teams of five players each. The two teams take turns playing as the Terrorists and the Counter Terrorists, the former of whom are attempting to plant a bomb at one of the two bomb sites, and the latter of whom are trying to stop them. The game has taken on an incredible amount of strategic depth, and has turned into one of the biggest esports games in the world. It’s explosive, always fun to watch, and one of the most fertile spots for smart gamblers.
If you’d like to become one of those smart gamblers, you’ve come to the right place. Over the course of this article, I’ll give you all the basic information you need to learn how to bet on CS:GO.
How Do Odds Work?
For CS:GO, most odds will be represented in the American style, which means they’ll look something like this: +200. That means that if you were to bet $100, and win, you’d get an extra $200 back, meaning your total take home would be $300. Conversely, a -150 would mean you’d need to bet $150 in order to make $100 back, putting your total at $250.
Types of Bets
The outright is the simplest bet to understand. If you think you know who is going to win the tournament, this is where you should be looking to make your money. Most tournaments will have odds for overall winner, which teams will make the finals, and winner of each group if there are multiple groups in the group stage. Some of the more uncommon outrights include nationality of the winning team, and in the case of IEM events, you can bet on the status of the Intel Grand Slam.
This is where the real money is won. On the simplest level, match bets allow you to place your bet on which team will win a given map or series. CS:GO is a notoriously volatile sport, so betting on map and series upsets is one of the best ways to build your bankroll quickly. Beyond simple outcome bets, there is a long list of more specialized bets you can place on single matches.
This is one of my personal favorites, is betting the length of a map. The way CS:GO works, matches last a variable amount of time, and can end rather quickly in a stomp. The standard for betting is over/under 26.5 rounds, which means can the winning team hold the losing team under 10 rounds. This is a great way to make money off of stomps, and off of games that are too close to call. When combined with an outright winner as well, these kinds of bets can start to climb to pretty high odds.
This is easily the most volatile bet you can place in CS:GO, so I would advise staying away from it. Pistol rounds in CS are notoriously random, and even the best teams in the world have just a hair over 50% of pistol rounds won.
Online vs. LAN
One of the important distinctions in esports is the separation between online and LAN CS. Obviously, because it’s a video game, it is frequently played over the internet by both amateurs and professionals. Plenty of competition takes place online, including qualifiers and leagues. But in online play, people tend to care less. PC issues and lag abound, and it generally becomes much riskier. Online CS is its own little world, a more volatile and much more dangerous world. Enter at your own risk.
Because CS:GO is an open circuit, rather than a franchised league like most American sports, the competition works differently which can be strange for new bettors. Most tournaments in CS:GO will work via invitation, online qualification, or some combination of the two. These tournaments will usually use single elimination, double elimination, round robin, or the swiss system.
This is the simplest format to understand. The teams are seeded 1-8, 1-10, 1-16, whatever. Then the number one seed plays the lowest seed, the number two plays the second lowest, and so on. In single elimination, if you lose a game, you are eliminated from the tournament. In double elimination, losing a game sends you to a losers bracket, where the teams with one loss compete in order to stay in the tournament. In some formats, the winner of the loser bracket gets a chance to play the winner of the winner bracket in the grand final, usually with some sort of disadvantage.
In this format, every team plays every other team once. While this format is far more time consuming, it’s usually considered a better test than either of the elimination formats. If there’s only one round robin group, the top two teams will usually be picked to play in the finals. If there are two or more round robin groups, then the number one seed from each group will get paired with the number two seed form another group, or something similar.
The swiss system is one of the most prominent methods in modern Counter Strike, due to the level of competition, its accuracy in letting the best teams through with few flukey results, and its speed relative to the round robin. In the swiss system, teams are seeded and each team plays a game. After the first round, the teams are split into two groups, the 1-0 teams and the 0-1 teams. The groups are then reseeded, and the 1-0 teams play each other and the 0-1 teams play each other. There is a certain number of wins or losses that move a team through or eliminates them, which depends on the tournament. This allows every team to have multiple chances and makes sure the best team at the tournament doesn’t end up going home due to one flukey loss. It also allows for excellent narratives to take shape, as teams try to claw their way back from 0-1 and 0-2.
Popular Tournament Series
There are a handful of prominent tournament series that consistently deliver high level competition, that you should keep your eye on as a bettor.
ESL Pro League
One of two prominent online leagues, EPL has a roughly one month long season, twice a year, with a league in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania. A few of the best teams will be chosen from each region, and they’ll all be invited to the EPL Finals, a 16 team with a group stage comprised of two double elimination brackets, and a final single elimination bracket.
Esports Champion Series
The other online league, they have a non traditional league format that also runs twice a year. Instead of playing a normal league format, where every team plays every other, they run multiple brackets over the course of a season, rewarding the winner of each with a playoff berth.
BLAST Pro Series
The newest tier one tournament in the scene, BLAST Pro are owned by RFRSH, who also represent Astralis. Their tournaments use round robin, and only include five teams, all of whom are invited. They play best-of-one in their round robin group stage, then a best-of-three final.
This isn’t my favorite tournament as a bettor. Best-of-ones are always less than ideal, and they have to play three matches at a time to get all of them done in time.
The most recent ELEAGUE tournament was a four team, invite only double elimination bracket. ELEAGUE has been one of the tournament organizers most willing to experiment with their format, so who knows what it might look like the next time they run a tournament.
These are generally second tier tournaments. They feature six invited spots, two qualifier spots, and run two round robin groups. The top two teams are then seeded into a single elimination bracket.
Counter Strike is one of the most explosive esports around. It consistently has great viewership, exciting events, and an extraordinarily deep field of competitors at the highest level. The open circuit format allows for an abundance of competition, which means a multitude of betting opportunities. There are few games as satisfying to bet on as Counter Strike.
If you’d like to start wagering on CS:GO, make sure to follow along here. We’ll be bringing you tips, tricks, tournament previews and recaps, all the information you’ll need.