IEM Katowice 2021 is expected to lead to a “significant uptick” in esports betting action this month.
The $1m CS:GO championship, due to start on Tuesday, February 16, is among the standout events of the year and comes after almost 12 months of disruption to the esports calendar.
The event is famed for being held at the Polish city’s iconic Spodek Arena but Covid restrictions mean no fans will be in attendance as teams play online from locations around Europe.
Nevertheless, a flurry of betting action is expected on the event, as 24 of the world’s best CS:GO teams compete for the $400,000 first prize.
Metodi Zaburtov, Director of Sportsbook at Luckbox, said: “CS:GO fans have been starved of action for much of the past 12 months and IEM Katowice has a special place in their hearts.
“Data from previous years shows us that there is a significant uptick in CS:GO betting at this time of year thanks to IEM Katowice. This is largely due to the quality and popularity of the teams involved, the high-profile nature of the event and intense nature of the competition – with so many matches being played over two weeks.
“The fact that the tournament is online is a pity but esports fans have shown a strong willingness to continue to back their favourite teams and try to pick winners in such tournaments throughout the past year. We expect that to be the case even more for IEM Katowice.”
A year for the underdogs?
Astralis are outright favourites to win another IEM Katowice title, with odds of 3.10 ahead of Team Vitality at 3.80. Heroic are third favourites at 5.00 while defending champions Na’Vi are available at 5.50.
But fans planning to bet on IEM Katowice, could be wise to keep an eye on the underdogs.
Zaburtov said: “I think it’s worth looking at some teams that have been very strong during warm-up tournaments. Complexity are on fire and available at odds of 23.00, while BIG at 9.5, Virtus.pro (13.25) and Gambit (31.00) look great value. Also, the underachievement of the top two teams – Vitality and Astralis – in recent weeks is hardly great preparation. “We have seen evidence to suggest that online tournaments lead to more shock results, with a noticeable series of outcomes going as predicted by the odds.
“Online matches are more susceptible to technical issues such as latency, which can sometimes prove a leveller – like a football match on a bad pitch. “There is also the fact that players are often in their own homes, as opposed to being cheered on by thousands of fans. This often brings out the best in experienced players, while lower-level players might crumble under the pressure. Perhaps playing online suits smaller teams because there is less pressure.
“This could be a good year for the underdogs.”