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16 September 2019

Stepan Shulga reflects on “The International” gaming competition

The e-sports world came together in Shanghai a few weeks ago for the biggest event in the industry’s calendar, The International competition. Now in its 9th year, 18 teams fought it out in the Dota 2 arena, at what is now officially the largest e-sports tournament in the world. The crowd-funded prize pot reached a whopping $34 million, the largest in e-sports history. The final battle saw Team Liquid and OG - both previous winners of the competition, go head to head. Those lucky enough to be in Shanghai were treated to a nail-biting final, which saw OG take the crown and become the competition’s first repeat winners. Although Virtus.pro, the Parimatch sponsored team didn’t reach the final, they walked away with almost $675,000 in prize money and were the highest placed CIS team in the competition. The team has a lot to be proud of as they look towards qualifying for the 2020 competition by playing the Dota Pro Circuit. The popularity of e-sports shows no sign of waning, at Parimatch we spotted the opportunities within the e-sports industry quite a while ago. It wasn’t long ago that making the move into esports betting was seen as a crazy experiment for a legacy bookmaker like us. But our determination and high-risk high reward strategy paid off and we are now a leading e-sports betting partner. This years’ The International tournament saw over 55,000 players place just shy of a million bets with Parimatch, a record for us too! It just goes to show that anybody can make it like a champion in their field if they are prepared to brave the risks in order to succeed.

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27 August 2019

Parimatch CEO Sergey Portnov places his bets on the future of sports bookmaking

Change is on the horizon - very soon there will be over 100 new betting sites targeting the 18-25 years old demographic, representing a 70% chance. As a result of such a saturated market and shifting dynamics; user experience, marketing strategy, and a risk-taking approach will become vital to bookmakers’ competitiveness, let alone gaining market share. Speaking at World Gaming Executive Summit 2019, Sergey Portnov gave his take on what is coming down the line for sports betting. Sports betting is booming, driven by increased accessibility (mobile betting), emerging games (eSports) and advances in technology (improved user interface). With growing marketing budgets and loan-to-value ratio, bookmakers will become a unique source of sports and game content. Betting businesses will run sport competitions to ensure an “always-on” live-betting proposition, meaning that fast sports will dominate. In order to drive innovation and re-energize company culture, many betting businesses will also transform their senior leadership teams. Leaders will need to be willing to take risks, be hungry for success and move away from the status quo. The probability of such changes is 62%. With new leaders will also come new vision, and major bookmakers will reconsider branding, adapting their brand voice and product offering to appeal to the new generation of players. The next major industry shift will be in payments, with the launch of new payment solutions. Bookmakers will finally start building USPs around payment methods. In the past few years, the online gaming industry has been driving innovation in online payments and global payment technology has allowed betting providers to expand into new markets quickly. However it is no longer enough for payments to be safe and secure; payments must be quick, allowing for withdrawal in minutes, with next-level integration with PSPs and banks. In this way, payments will be a key differentiator between bookmarkers – even more important than odds. Sports streaming will also be disrupted, for the better. Streaming will become higher quality, with HD visuals, a highlights feed, interactive stream and capability for replays. Increasingly, customers want access to a variety of broadcasts, with no time delays, in order to facilitate a wide-ranging and seamless live-betting experience. There’s lots of debate around offshore markets vs regulated markets. It’s a fact that offshore markets grow faster – they have the flexibility to adapt and establish their own ways of operating. This trend will continue as long as players in these markets are unrestricted by regulation – which is often when payment solutions and digital marketing perform best. Finally, and this will surprise and scare many in equal measures, cybersport will no longer be the newcomer, and will account for 10% of revenue for betting operators. The industry is worth over $1 billion in marketing revenue and attracts a loyal young audience. Fans flock from all over the world to major tournaments, and so we will see more and more sponsors capitalize on the meteoric rise in the sport’s popularity. One thing is for sure, the tide is turning and bookmakers face two options: innovate or die.

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19 August 2019

All eyes are on Shanghai: “The International” annual gaming competition

Parimatch’s Head of e-sports Stepan Shulga looks ahead to this year’s “The International” annual gaming competition August is here, the month when the entire e-sports community waits in anticipation for the largest competition in the e-sports calendar to begin. “The International” sees competitors fight it out in the online battle arena of Dota2, for the chance to win millions of dollars in prize money. This year the venue is in Shanghai, the first time the competition has been held in China. The clever people at Valve Corporation, developers of the Dota2 universe came up with the idea of crowdfunding the prize money, giving fans and players the opportunity to have an impact on the size of the prize fund. At the time of writing, the prize pot currently stands at $32 million USD, almost as much as the French football team made when they lifted the World Cup trophy in 2019!  Admittedly, the prize money will be shared amongst 16 teams, but it is still a life-changing amount. But why does The International matter to Parimatch?  From a commercial perspective - you may be surprised to hear that the number of bets we take on the event is similar to what we see with more traditional sports, and we see great loyalty towards e-sports teams from young adults. It also matters because we sponsor the successful e-gaming team Virtus.pro. It gives us great pride to say that Virtus.pro is one of the top three e-gaming teams, and is one of the favourites to win this year’s competition. Parimatch has a reputation for partnering with sporting winners! For now, we wait with bated breath for the tournament to start on the 20th August, and wish our friends at Virtus.pro the best of luck as they continue to conquer the e-sports world!

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