How to Bet on Dota 2: Tips and Tricks to Gain an Edge
Dota 2 is the most popular eSport in the world. The game’s premier tournament, The International, features a crowd-funded prize that exceeded $34 million in 2019.
But professional players aren’t the only ones able to cash in on Dota 2 competitions. Wagering on the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game at online sportsbooks offers casual fans and dedicated bettors alike the opportunity to turn a profit on Dota 2 tournaments.
This comprehensive introduction to betting on Dota 2 provides everything you need to get started. From the basics of the game itself, how to interpret the odds, and a few considerations you’ll want to pay close attention to, start here before placing a wager on the world’s number one eSport.
Dota 2 Betting Basics
Look, there’s nothing basic about Dota 2. Players and fans love the game for its complexity and the nuanced, layered strategies required to be successful. You don’t need to master every detail to bet on Dota 2, but you need a solid understanding of the basic challenges the game presents players.
Dota 2 Gameplay
Dota 2 matches consist of two teams of five players, with each player controlling one of the game’s 119 characters. The objective is to be first to destroy the other team’s Ancient – a large structure located in the fortified “bases” each team controls on opposite ends of the map.
Dota 2 features a single map, which is occupied by both the players themselves and several other neutral, computer-controlled characters called ‘creeps.’ Players must confront both creeps and opposing characters as they work to destroy the opposing Ancient while defending their own.
All characters begin the game relatively weak, attaining additional resilience and abilities as they collect gold and ‘buffs’ (advantages) by vanquishing creeps and opposing characters. The game ends once an Ancient has been destroyed, but many competitive eSports matches utilize a best-of-three or best-of-five games format.
Dota 2 Character Types
Each of the 119 characters players can choose from has unique capabilities and vulnerabilities, but they can be generally classified into two types that serve different strategic purposes.
- Cores/Carries: Cores, also known as ‘carries,’ deal most of the damage and see most of the action in Dota 2. They begin each game very vulnerable, gaining strength and offensive firepower as the game goes on.
- Supports: Supports play a more consistent but reserved role throughout the game, generally avoiding direct confrontations and serving to support their team’s core with healing powers and other ‘buffs’ or advantages.
Each character is further defined by three attributes: strength, intelligence, and agility. Every character excels primarily in one of the three. When handicapping Dota 2 matches, you’ll need to consider the unique abilities of each character in addition to the skills of the players controlling them. This community-derived heroes guide is a great place to start.
Dota 2 Betting Odds
If you’re familiar with playing Dota 2 or other eSports but are new to wagering on them, you’ll want to start with a solid understanding of the odds. This guide to sports betting odds includes everything you could possibly want to know, but we cover some basics right here.
Most online betting sites use fractional or American odds on eSports betting lines. As a bettor, the odds tell you two crucial pieces of information:
- Which team is favored to win and how heavily they are favored
- How much money you stand to win on either side of the wager
American odds generally use a negative number to indicate the favorite and a positive number to identify the underdog. The farther apart these numbers are, the more lopsided the match is expected to be. The numbers also reveal your potential payout when betting each side.
- Negative odds tell you how much you must risk in order to profit $100 backing the favorite
- Positive odds tell you how much you will profit if you risk $100 backing the underdog
Let’s look at an example to see how American odds play (and pay!) out in practice.
Dota 2 Example Odds
Here is a betting line used for the finals of 2019 International tournament in which OG defeated Team Liquid 3-1 in the best-of-five matchup:
It’s immediately apparent that the bookmaker favors OG to win the match, as they are assigned negative odds. Because the odds assigned to each side are relatively close in value, we also know this matchup is expected to be a tight contest.
If backing OG as favorites, you must risk $154 to profit $100. On the other hand, the positive number ascribed to Team Liquid tells us that you stand to profit $110 when risking a $100 wager on them as underdogs.
Of course, you don’t need to bet these exact amounts to wager on this matchup. Use this handy payout calculator to see how much you’ll stand to win with a wager of any size, at any odds.
Ways to Bet on Dota 2
Like most MOBA-style games, Dota 2 is a sophisticated and complex competition with a plethora of different elements to wager on. Most eSports betting sites will allow you to wager on Dota 2 both before and during the match. Live betting is well-suited to eSports, thanks to their progressive gameplay but inherently unpredictable nature.
Moneyline bets are the simplest form of eSports wager. Simply select the team you expect to win straight-up; it’s as simple as that. Moneyline bets are typically offered on the result of a match overall, or in the case of ‘best-of’ tournament series, the individual games (sometimes called ‘maps’) that make up the larger series.
Spread bets allow you to level the playing field and find value betting either side of a lopsided Dota 2 matchup. By ‘giving’ points to the underdog and ‘taking’ them from the favorite, the sportsbook can offer a pick on either team at odds that are even or very close to even.
Note that spread bets are only offered on Dota 2 matches or competitions that use a ‘best-of’ format wherein more than one game is played. Regular, single-game matches can’t be handicapped in this fashion because there are no ‘points’ to give or take.
Tournaments using a best-of-three format will always have a spread of +/-1.5. Favorites will have 1.5 points (games won) subtracted from their score at the end of the series, while the underdog will have 1.5 points added to theirs. In this scenario, the favorite must sweep the best-of-three series 2-0 in order to ‘cover’ the spread and provide a win for bettors.
In the best-of-five format used in the Grand Finals of the International (the single biggest Dota 2 event), the spread may be set at +/- 2.5, again forcing the favorite to win a clean sweep to cover the spread. If the spread is set at +/-1.5, they can still cover while giving up one round to the underdog.
If you’ve heard someone mention the over/under for a sporting event, they’re talking about the totals line. When it comes to Dota 2, this type of wager generally applies only to tournament play where a best-of format is used.
Totals bets ask you to wager on whether the total number of games/maps played is ‘over’ or ‘under’ a pre-set total. For best-of-three Dota 2 matches, this total will always be set at 2.5. If you expect the match to be a clean 2-0 sweep, you’ll want to take the under. If you expect a closer 2-1 result, take the over. The best-of-five Grand Final can see more variation, with the total set at either 3.5 or 4.5.
Another over/under bet unique to Dota 2 asks you to wager on the duration of a single game/map. Dota 2 has no set time limit – games end only once an Ancient has been destroyed and can theoretically go on indefinitely – allowing some online betting sites will predict the number of minutes the match will last and ask you to take the ‘over’ or ‘under’ on this number.
With either format, the strategy is simple: take the over when you expect the match or series to be closely contested. If you expect a blowout, take the under.
Prop bets present propositions about an element of the game not directly related to the final result. These differ widely between matches and online sportsbooks, but they tend focus on individual performances or very specific strategic elements of the game. Common examples include:
- Who will draw first blood?
- Which team will have more kills?
- Which player will have the most kills?
- Will final score be odd or even?
- Who will kill first Roshan (a highly capable creep)?
Prop bets pair nicely with live, in-game betting action, as they are easier to predict once you know which of the game’s 119 characters will be played.
Dota 2 Tournament Outrights/Futures
In contrast to some other eSports, professional Dota 2 play is almost exclusively based around individual tournaments. Futures bets ask you to predict the winner or finalists of these events well ahead of time, rewarding you with more favorable odds the farther in advance you’re willing to put money on the line.
Lines will become available for major tournaments like the ONE world Pro Invitational and the International weeks or months ahead of time. Timing is everything when betting tournament outrights: finding the best value requires striking the balance between taking more favorable odds early on while having enough information about the tournament and competitors to make an intelligent wager.
Dota 2 Betting Tips: The Final Word
Now that you understand the extensive wagering options for Dota 2, it’s time to find an online sportsbook with a healthy number of eSports offerings. Once you’ve signed up and made your first deposit, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind:
- Play Dota 2 Yourself – There’s no substitute for hands-on experience, and there’s no excuse not to have it considering that Dota 2 is free to play online. Try the game yourself to gain a deeper understanding of the strategies used and the importance of character selection.
- Pay Close Attention During the Pick & Ban Phase – While drafting characters for competitive tournaments, teams ‘pick’ characters for their own roster while also ‘banning’ characters from entering the arena (playing on the other team). Don’t ignore this process, as it will inform every element of the upcoming battle. Review the most heavily picked and banned Dota 2 characters to see which ones are mostly highly prized by the pros.
- Shop Around for the Best Odds and Promotions – Profitability when betting on sports of any kind occurs at the absolute thinnest of margins. If you’re not comparing the odds and promotions at multiple online sportsbooks, you’re likely leaving money on the table.
Once you’ve mastered the ins and outs of Dota 2 betting, consider expanding your horizons by wagering on other MOBA games – betting on League of Legends and Overwatch betting share much of the same strategies as wagering on Dota 2.
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