Inside the World of Fantasy eSports Leagues

Since the 1980s, the popularity of fantasy sports leagues has skyrocketed. From a sports fan’s perspective, fantasy leagues allow at-home pundits to put their analytical skills to the test. It’s not enough to design the perfect team from a fan’s perspective; fans want to prove they can operate from a statistician’s as well.

Around the world, countless sports leagues allow fans to construct their own virtual team, then see how the competition stacks up when real-life stats are applied. From paid DFS promotions to fantasy leagues created between friends, sports fans are closer than ever to their favorite leagues.

In 2014, LinkedIn even suggested adding successful fantasy league results to resumés. After all, the endeavor requires mathematical precision with a keen eye for budding athletic talent. In recent years, the rise of eSports leagues and big-money competitions has also attracted the attention of punters for the same reasons.

Now that more states in the US are regulating their sports betting markets, many oddsmakers are looking to pivot to offer odds on fantasy leagues. From there came the next step of eSports evolution: fantasy leagues just for virtual competitions.

Now, not only can sports fans take a stab at building stronger teams than other football or baseball fans, but they can apply the same strategies to Call of Duty and League of Legends teams. Even so, gauging a quarterback’s playoff readiness isn’t the same as studying a gamer’s performance record at major eSports competitions.

In the early days of fantasy eSports, such considerations challenged not only those playing eSports DFS but those looking to develop the eSports fantasy leagues, as well. Despite the fact that DraftKings kicked off DFS eSports games as early as 2015, the fantasy league and sportsbook didn’t gain major traction with the eSports sector until 2020.

Today, thorough DraftKings sportsbook reviews tout the company’s wide range of betting markets and their attached DFS services. But for the average punter or fantasy league player, knowing how to apply which strategies when wagering on eSports or playing in a fantasy eSports league takes a bit of research.

Keep reading below to learn the basics of eSports fantasy leagues, as well as some emerging strategies by game.


How It Works

At its core, eSports fantasy leagues are constructed the same way as those for regular sports: a user selects a virtual team from lists of real-life players to build an unstoppable roster. From there, this curated team competes against other fantasy teams according to real-life eSports competition formats.

The actual results of these tournaments are then applied to each fantasy player’s constructed roster. Each fantasy team is scored according to the real-life scores of each player. From there, fantasy teams are ranked and winners are named.

Each eSports fantasy league operator chooses a Game Set, which indicates how many games a given roster will compete for. Because many emerging eSports leagues continue to evolve, longer seasons of competition haven’t been established uniformly.

DFS eSports offerings are played concurrently with live events, such as the LoL World Championship and the Rocket League Championship Series. These contests are played across a shorter period of time, just like with real-life DFS sports leagues.

Regular eSports fantasy leagues are ideal for those looking to dive deep into stats and who follow major eSports competitions over longer periods of time. DFS eSports competitions typically offer prize pools based on entry fees and require less long-term attention.


Choosing an eSport 

DraftKings, as aforementioned, is leading the first major forays into eSports DFS and fantasy league offerings from a globally-recognized sportsbook. At the moment, DraftKings offers fantasy leagues for Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Rocket League, and eNASCAR.

The first four games are some of the most popular games in eSports, barring notable mentions like Dota 2 and Fortnite. The latter, eNASCAR, features virtual races from actual NASCAR competitors—only adapted to a video game version of the stock car racing league.

Call of Duty (CoD) and Counter-Strike (CS:GO) are first-person shooter games. League of Legends (LoL) is a battle-royale style game that uses multiple players who compete on teams. Rocket League is a simple game that combines soccer with fast cars.

In each case mentioned above, DFS and eSports fantasy leagues allow users to draft lineups (between four and seven, depending on the game). DraftKings also offers a salary cap competition, which bars users from surpassing $50,000 while building their team.


Examples for Rosters & Scoring 

ALL eSports fantasy leagues follow a set of scoring rules. Each video game allocates points differently (though industry standards are being set), which users should know in order to target appropriate players while building a roster.

For example, let’s look at CoD. With DraftKings, users choose five players, including one captain who earns 1.5 more points than others, and one team. Players earn two points for kills and lose one point per death. Capture time, bomb plants and diffusions, and captures all earn players extra points.

Teams win four points per game and ten per match (which consists of five games in most cases). So, users should prioritize building a strong team, as the most points are earned by match wins (at least 25 points).

Additionally, player kills earn top points. While searching for players, users should keep a lookout for those with the highest kill count—even if the player is expensive. Oftentimes, users have leftover salary even when they’re not counting pennies.

Let’s shift to look at strategy in LoL, a vastly different game from CoD in terms of structure. LoL is more team-focused than the first-person shooter. Kills in LoL are worth three points, assists are worth two, deaths cost one point, and extra points are applied for creeping and kill-assist proportions.

Here, kills and assists are the names of the game. However, LoL five-player rosters are structured according to attacking, mobility, damage-absorbing, and supporting roles. In this game, player scores can lead to team wins—but accruing kills and gaining a lead literally makes a player’s character stronger in the game.

While rosters should work well together in any fantasy league, LoL emphasizes a teamwork approach more than some other popular games, like CoD. The diversity of strategy and application is one reason eSports have seen a massive boom. With more games being added to top virtual DFS and fantasy league sites, the range of offerings will only expand in the coming years.