How esports bookmaker GG.BET cleverly leveraged the showmatch format

GG.Bet NAVI vs Team Vitality showmatch
Image credit: GG.BET

GG.BET’s aptly named ‘Match of LeGGends’ earlier this month not only showcased CS:GO talent, but it highlighted how true entertainment can be created within community esports events. 

As a sponsor of both Team Vitality and NAVI, the betting platform has invested heavily in the esports scene, with the showmatch solidifying its position as a key stakeholder in the Counter-Strike ecosystem.

LVL Arena Berlin hosted Vitality and NAVI’s new rosters. However, the event executed a surprising, and welcome, twist. After NAVI’s victory in the first game, the team’s star players Mathieu ‘ZywOo’ Herbaut and Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev switched sides, putting a fresh spin on a traditional showcase.

Further re-vitalising the showmatch format, GG.BET utilised a voting system on Twitter which allowed fans to choose additional players to switch teams for the third and final game. As decided by the community, teams ‘Navity’ and ‘Vitavi’ were formed. The final game’s formation of team ‘Vitavi, featuring s1mple and ZywOo, gave fans an extremely rare chance to see two of the best players in the esport play on the same side. 

This project, alongside the bookmaker’s other activations, highlights that GG.BET is acutely aware of the impact these events have on the Counter-Strike esports scene. 

Dmytro Voshkarin, CEO of GG.BET, told Esports Insider why the company opted to utilise the showmatch format: “With no title or prizes on the line, fans get to sit back and enjoy as the players take more risks and go all out. In turn, the players finally get the opportunity to just enjoy the game, experiment with different positions, and try out unfamiliar weapons and new tactics.

“This is exactly what happened at the Match of LeGGends! Think about it, where else would you be able to watch MVP players b1t and ZywOo go head-to-head in a knife fight?”

Voshkarin noted that the showmatch was broadcast in three different languages and recorded roughly 1m people tuning into the livestream — an impressive feat for a standalone event by a bookmaker.

Overall, the four-hour stream hit 72,865 peak concurrent viewers, with just over 200,000 hours watched, according to Esports Charts data.

“The esports community was buzzing with anticipation both before and during the match; there were thousands of posts on social media featuring predictions, highlights, news, and discussions,” he continued. “Our goal was to shake things up and give the esports community something to remember, and that we did!” 

Betting companies, both endemic and non-endemic, have upped the stakes when it comes to marketing activations in the esports scene over the years. Whilst standard betting partnerships are still utilised, these new marketing campaigns and projects have helped provide dynamic and interactive entertainment that would otherwise be limited to regular competitive seasons. 

The Pinnacle Cup, for example, is a standalone event series created by sportsbook Pinnacle to provide teams and fans within CS:GO and Dota 2 with more opportunities. 

What is interesting is that most notable activations by esports betting companies have different end goals. For Pinnacle, it was to create a competitive experience, whilst also bolstering its esports betting offerings.

For GG.BET, Match of LeGGends continued to develop the bookmaker’s brand in the eyes of esports purists. A similar marketing activation has been done by endemic bookmaker Rivalry, which is utilising its Chicken mascot to raise awareness of the brand during major CS:GO events. This also bolsters fan interaction. 

GG.BET’s success by hitting over 200,000 hours watched over the course of only four hours provides a clear indication that informal showmatches have a potentially greater audience than many expected. However, it also highlights the development of GG.BET’s brand and its wherewithal to work with esports organisations. The company was able to expand its marketing to innovatively engage the community, offering an attractive new form of entertainment in the process.   

GG.Bet NAVI vs Team Vitality CS:GO showmatch
Image credit: GG.BET

The entertainment value of GG.BET’s showmatch format was also endorsed by Counter-Strike host and GG.BET ambassador James Banks. “The GG.BET Match of LeGGends is very unique in the way that they put it together,” Banks said. “What I really enjoyed about it was the fact that they had different formats. The only thing they could possibly do better is invite fans to watch — they will love this. A core aspect of esports is the closeness of connecting with the players, and I don’t ever want to lose it.”

The signing of notable ambassadors is another prong in creating a successful marketing push. Sometimes the best ambassadors aren’t the players, but the commentators, or even writers, that connect with audiences en masse. As a revered member of the CS community since its conception, Banks is also uniquely connected to both the businesses behind the Counter-Strike scene and the public who invest their time and passion into it.

‘Match of LeGGends’ served as both an ode to two successful CS:GO teams and a gift to the CS:GO fanbase. As the community prepares for the transition from CS:GO to CS2 this summer, GG.BET’s showmatch experience was somewhat reminiscent of a tribute to the community’s support of the game over the years.

Hannah Tobitt
Hannah is a freelance journalist specialising in esports, gaming, and tech. Alongside writing, she studies an MA in Digital Culture and Society part-time.