In this article we’ll breakdown the complexities of StarCraft 2 Handicap betting, also referred to as Starcraft 2 Spread betting. We’ll cover how to understand them, interpret their odds, and offer all the great betting tips and tricks for newcomers and seasoned punters alike.
Easily as popular as the over under esports betting strategy, spread betting is an accommodating means of betting that is often favoured by enthusiasts that feel confident in their ability to predict end-game scorelines. Not to mention, betting against handicaps can be very lucrative. However, when it comes to spread betting, we must apply your bookmaker’s proposed handicap and assess their odds before we can gauge whether participation is viable.
When you bet on competitive eSports, depending on your chosen bookmaker, you may encounter handicap betting. Handicap betting, commonly referred to as “spread betting” or “spreads”, is an engaging way to bet on matches where simple Win or Loss outcomes seem determined or present unfavourable odds.
Spreads refer to the handicap designated, by your chosen bookies, to competitors. These are usually displayed on betting cards for the match as follows:
Unlike conventional SC2 betting, handicaps usually translate to giving or taking map wins from competitors prior to the game starting. Essentially, if according to the above, Steven is favourite to win, however in this scenario he must win by a two point lead in order for the bet payout. This is because you are betting on the difference, or “spread”, of the proposed handicaps.
For confirmation, a regular handicap bet involves your bookmaker giving or taking a competitor’s advantage. This is to ensure betting is still competitive, even on matches with seemingly predictable outcomes. That said, competitive SC2 has tremendous room for unprecedented outcomes, or “upset”, so ensure you’ve researched the tournament and competitors appropriately as many variables arise with Spreads.
With some bookmakers, you will be able to adjust the proposed handicap and its corresponding odds by selecting the (+) or (-) according to which competitor you believe will win.
For example, if we adjust our above bet, because we believe Protoss Player Stephen will win by a landslide, our adjustments may change our bookmakers proposed odds.
In this example, Nathan now must win by three points. Because this outcome is less likely, we have received more favourable odds. However, in order to justify our faith in Nathan we would commit to relevant research, such as recent form and head-to-head history, and break down the odds in order to ensure the bet is worthwhile.
When it comes to SC2 Handicap Betting, something to bear in mind, is the format of the match in play. Different tournaments, and even different tiers of the same tournament, will adhere to a “best of” format. In Qualifying matches, match lengths will generally be shorter, so “best of three” maps is more common. However, it is also common, in Quarterfinals for example, to see “best of seven”. Pay close attention to the rules of the tournament in play, as this will alter the commonality of more extreme spreads.
It is not uncommon in SC2 match-ups, for low odds to occur when a landslide is expected. This can be especially problematic if pre-match Singles are your preferred means of participating.
In the above example, we have listed our spread information beside Moneyline odds which are commonplace among specialised eSports bookies. If we believe that Zerg Player Nathan will win the match-in-play by at least three points, we may wish to proceed with our example bet:
Protoss Player: Steven “PoGChamp” Rodgers +50 / +1.5
Zerg Player: Nathan “Castle” Million +150 / -1.5
In this instance, if we are betting on Protoss Player Steven to win with a three map lead, we will receive moneyline odds of +50. Moneyline odds are best interpreted as how much money you will need to stake in order to receive a £/€/$100 payout. For example, a bet of £/€/$10 on Steven with the current handicap, would pay out £/€/$15, of which £/€/$5 would be profit.
However, if you are unfamiliar with moneyline odds, or alternatives such as decimal and fractional odds, chances are that you will encounter them all at some point and we recommend reviewing our betting guide for a further breakdown.
Being successful with SC2 handicaps can require surprising dedication. This is because you have to trial and employ strategies that enable you to accurately depict the scoreline of a match-up. This can require an intensive study of competitors, and when first starting out, it is generally recommended that you follow a singular favoured competitor. For example, maybe follow a competitor that is favoured to win the overarching tournament - someone that you believe can handle a major disadvantage.
To be able to get this information, you should study recent form, accolades and head-to-head history, and be following the broader eSports scene. As with sports betting, you should be up to date with the latest news, tournament rules, and any competition your favorite is up against. You have to know which competitors are more likely to win at a bigger score margin and which of those teams are considered underdogs. Pay close attention. This betting style is most lucrative when betting on teams at the broadest disadvantage.
You should also aim to mitigate risk. The more drastic your chosen handicap, the higher the risk. Keeping track of your bets and knowing where to draw the line is optimal if you want to make money. Not to mention that identifying and following an underdog can sometimes be preferable to sticking to favourites. Latching on to poor competitors and betting at zero handicaps and advantages can sometimes win you more money than betting on a dominant team with a severe handicap. Sure, the rewards are less cumbersome, but the overall risk is lower too.
If you intend to participate with a broker that specialises in SC2 handicaps and spreads, we recommend reading through these quick tips and tricks to strengthen your strategies and play-style.
Learn to read odds. Odds, as you know them, may take on a variety of unfamiliar forms when it comes to online SC2 Betting. According to the locality of your chosen bookmaker and your betting preferences, you will likely encounter Fractional, Decimal, and Moneyline Odds. Make sure you’re confident translating these odds on a risk/reward basis.
Research competitors. Spread betting demands you stay informed regarding competitors. As always, recent form and head-to-head records are a great place to start, but studying long-term performance across a variety of similar match-ups is the best way to predict accurate score lines. Remember, that when it comes to handicaps, you must consider the feasibility of the outcome relative to your competitor’s broader skill bracket and racial match-ups.
Read up on tournament rules. Tournament formats can offer sleight variance in StarCraft 2, so it’s worth checking how many maps will be played at this point of play. For example, if you’re in the Quarter finals you may place “best of seven”. This will directly influence your scoreline bets and may increase the likelihood of broader point spreads.
Consider using “Value betting”. This strategy includes identifying opportunities that you believe are statistically more likely to happen than your bookmaker proposes. This approach can be especially useful in conjunction with handicaps due to the room for potential upset in your average SC2 match.
When it comes to finding a bookmaker that offers SC2 Handicap and Spread betting types, it is generally recommended to choose a specialised eSports bookmaker such as Strafe due to their well-optimised design and the variety of betting types on offer. By contrast, when it comes to SC2 betting, local establishments generally offer poor coverage and badly optimised online betting slips.
Begin by testing the site’s functionality concerning their handicapped betting types. Some bookmakers may only offer special handicap bets that propose a set spread difference and cannot be altered, however others will enable you to adjust the handicap yourself and their proposed odds should adjust accordingly. This can be especially fun, however, in this case, user-interface and design is especially important.
As well as strong design, good odds, and the occasional enticing bonus offers, ensure that your chosen bookmaker is licensed by your relevant authorities and deals in your local country. In recent years Brits, Canadians, and Europeans have struggled to find well-balanced establishments, however Strafe took the crown in a recent SC2 odds comparison.
Additionally, when locating Spread betting online, it is most commonly participated in pre-match, as once live-betting begins certain betting types will be restricted. This will vary bookmaker to bookmaker, but once the game begins, odds concerning scoreline betting may not be favourable.
Asian handicaps are also increasing in popularity across online bookmakers. With Asian handicaps, there can never be a tied game, which can make for a more exciting bet.
What makes the Asian handicap so unique is that, when you give the favorites a deficit, their opponents get an equal sufficient, which means that, within the context of the bet, the game is pretty even. In order to achieve this, the underdog is generally favoured.
The underdog will start the game with a fraction of a round or map in their favour already. For example, if Nathan is expected to lose against Steven, Nathan may start with a +1.5 map count in a Best of 3 series. This means that Nathan would only have to win 1 map to win the +1.5 bet.
However, there are various incarnations of the Asian handicaps:
Asian Handicap 0
The Asian handicap 0 is used when teams are deemed even and you would like to remove a flat draw from the equation. With a handicap of 0, you would simply bet on your favorite team to win and wait until the end of the match. Nothing fancy.
Asian Handicap -0.5
This means that the favorite team to win will start the game with a deficit of -0.5 map wins while the underdog team starts with a sufficient of +0.5 round wins. If you bet on favorites, they will need to win by 1 in order for you to win your bet.
Asian Handicap -1
Following the same principle, if you bet on your team with a -1 handicap, they need to win by at least two rounds for you to win your bet. That’s right, two rounds, because you gave them a -1 round before the beginning. This works similar to the “difference” between spreads.
Bear in mind that Asian handicaps are also common when it comes to SC2 live betting, again depending on your bookmakers preferences.
Ultimately, your decision to participate in Handicap or Spread betting types should be determined by your ability to accurately predict individual map outcomes according to your competitor’s playstyles and recent form. This style of play is generally favoured by more advanced punters as it demands formidable game knowledge in order to be lucrative.
That said, if you’re considering live-betting, but feel that you currently lack the expertise or confidence for such fast-paced play, handicap betting can pose a more comfortable pace. Just ensure that you study competitors extensively, are comfortable with the proposed odds, and believe that your chosen handicap is feasible. Looking for more betting strategies to try out? We've covered pick 3 esports betting strategy in another recent guide, with tons of tips on how to test it out on your favorite esports events.