Pinnacle Sports: eSports Interview with DarKFoRcE

Jonathan "darkforce" Belke pinnacle esports lead trader

Jonathan ‘DarKFoRcE’ Belke: Lead eSports trader at Pinnacle Sports

Pinnacle esports betting LogoPinnacle Sports have been offering real money betting for the eSports events of LoL, Dota 2 and Starcraft 2 since August 2011. We have review of their betting service that we produced a year ago which you can check out here: Pinnacle Sports eSports betting review

We are pleased to have been given the opportunity to interview former Starcraft 2 Pro Jonathan ‘DarKFoRcE’ Belke who is now the lead eSports trader at Pinnacle Sports in order to find out more about their future plans regarding betting on eSports.

About Jonathan ‘DarKFoRcE’ Belke:

Company: Pinnacle Sports

Position: Lead eSports trader

Website: www.pinnaclesports.com

Favorite Games: To play right now I enjoy Go (a board game). For watching I like Starcraft 2 and League of Legends best. Dota 2 I haven’t played enough (so much has changed since the Dota 1 days) to fully get what is going on when I watch, but I still enjoy it though.

The Interview

Hello Jonathan! You have been a successful Starcraft 2 Player for a couple of years before you began blogging about eSports betting. Now you are working at Pinnacle Sports as the lead eSports trader. What were your reasons to retire as a professional eSports Gamer and are you planning a comeback?

A: I retired due to a mix of lack of motivation and lack of success (which go hand in hand I guess). I don’t have plans to return as a professional player, but I am still a very competitive person and will play upcoming games as competitive as my time allows.

In 2013 you started a blog about eSports betting. Have you been into betting before or did it all start with eSports betting?

A: I had a little betting experience from the time I played poker, but I only really got into it with eSports betting. I started betting on eSports late in 2010.

Your website has been a good resource for eSports betting tips. How did you come around to work at Pinnacle Sports?

A: I won a good amount of money betting on eSports over the years and also was an Affiliate, so there was some contact with the company from that. In the summer of 2013 Pinnacle wanted to become more involved with eSports and approached me about helping with sponsoring a tournament. Long story short, I got a job offer as a Trader who also works on other eSports related Stuff, such as the tournament we sponsored.

So what does an eSports trader exactly do and how does your average workday look like?

A: I put up betting-lines for upcoming matches/tournaments and adjust the odds on our lines when bets are coming in. I also watch streams of the tournaments we offer to see how players/teams are performing and to make sure that betting lines are online right up to the start of the game. This is especially important in events like Pro-League, where you don’t have set start times beforehand. For big tournaments I also deal games live, so customers can bet while the game is going.

I know you cannot give away all of your secrets but I still have to ask: On which factors/statistics do you focus when creating betting odds?

A: I am actually not the one who usually creates the initial odds. We have a professional who does that and he must base his decision on a gut call based on the information he has. Factors we consider are Race/Map (and how the matchup is on that map), recent performance, overall performance and so on.

In early 2014 Pinnacle Sports organized the Dota 2 PRO-AM tournament. Are you planning any other eSports tournaments in the near future?

A: We are very excited about eSports and had a lot of fun with the tournament, so we might do something like that again in the future. We are looking into it right now, but I can’t give you any promises though.

During LoL All-Stars 2014 Pinnacle Sports introduced lines for “First Blood” and “First Turret”. For the currently running LCS Summer Split you are just offering normal match bets. Are you planning to offer these kinds of special bets again in the near future?

A: eSports is continually growing and we are always looking to expand our offering. Right now we are trying these kinds of lines on some of the big tournaments and if there is enough interest, we will consider making them a regular feature on more leagues in the future.

So can we expect more types of special bets to come?

A: As said above, we are always looking into expanding our offering, so we might try out more types of special bets in one of the upcoming big tournaments (mostly looking at Dota 2 The International 2014 and LoL Worlds). If you have suggestions or requests you can always email market-request@pinnaclesports.com.

Pinnacle offered live betting during the All-Stars tournament as well. Will you have live betting again during League of Legends World Championship 2014 or other big tournaments?

A: We do plan to offer live betting for big tournaments such as LoL worlds and The International 2014.

There are a lot people who are interested in betting on Counter-Strike. Is there a reason why Pinnacle Sports does not offer odds for CS:GO tournaments/leagues on a more regular basis?

A: We are planning to start offering some of the bigger tournaments for CS:GO in the future.

Let’s talk about other Games than the big 4 (SC2, Dota2, LoL, CS:GO). Where do you see the potential of Hearthstone and Heroes of Newerth in the eSports betting sector?

A: I think Hearthstone has potential, but right now the game lacks some features such as a good observer mode. Additionally to that, I feel like Blizzard is relatively slow with adding new cards to the game, which makes Constructed play somewhat stale. To me it seems like HoN is on the decline and will not really be able to find a spot with LoL and DotA being the top dogs in the genre. But then again, I don’t follow HoN, so I might be wrong. We are expanding into alternative games as we will be dealing the FIFA Playstation World Cup on July 2-3. You can check out what’s available here.

The whole eSports scene is growing rapidly and more and more players have become professionals in the last couple of years. There are people who believe that in 10 to 20 years eSports might be bigger than conventional ball games. Do you agree?

A: I would say that depends a lot on what conventional ball game we are talking about ;). Will it be bigger than Soccer (or Football, as most of the World says)? Definitely not. But it could definitely get bigger than some of the smaller/medium sports. In fact, we are already offering higher limits on Pro-League, GSL, LCS and OGN The Champions than we do on national Volleyball leagues, Darts or Snooker – just to name a few examples. Our belief in eSports and its potential for growth is reflected in our offering more than any other book, and the adjoining belief that by hosting events and offering markets, we’re contributing to that growth.

Thank you for the interview!

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