Does home field advantage exist in esports?
It’s a common thing that playing in your home country, city or stadium brings you additional advantage over foreign opponents. But, is it also true for esports? How does home field advantage (HFA) affect a team's results? Is the effect the same for everyone? Let’s define the influence of home field advantage on esports matches and compare it to one of the biggest traditional sports leagues – football English Premier League.
What is home field advantage and does it matter in esports?
Home field advantage is the benefit of having friendly fans supporting your team, while playing in well-known area, meanwhile, the opponent plays in front of hostile fans and unknown surroundings. The experts admit that the influence of the crowd, familiarity of the surroundings and no need for long-distance travel and acclimatization are the biggest factors of the HFA phenomenon.
While in traditional sports the phenomenon of home field advantage was proven long time ago, esports seem not so clear on this topic. Team sports like football, basketball, hockey, etc. are the most dependent on playing at home. In fact, in the 2018-2019 NBA Regular Season, the home team won 1,230 games (71%) and the away team won 501 games (29%). The results in individual sports are also quite dependent on what field a sportsman is performing – home/neutral/away. The competitors in such kinds of sports as tennis, cycling, darts, winter sports, etc. usually show better results at home.
To analyze the factor of HFA in eSports we will check the results of professional CSGO teams at home/away arenas and compare them to the results of EPL teams in 2018/2019 season.
Among the list of professional CS:GO teams, we can highlight several teams that have a location that they can confidently call a home. Some of the teams below had 2 or more players from 2 countries simultaneously, so that we tracked two countries in the ‘Home’ line. The list of tracked teams: G2 Esports in France, Natus Vincere in CIS (Ukraine and Russia + 1 tourney in Belarus), Ninjas in Pyjamas in Sweden, Team Liquid in NA (USA + couple tourneys in Canada).
eSports teams HFA statistic
Counter Strike: Global Offensive’s teams used to have mixed rosters that are changing much more often than in traditional sports. Therefore, the range of teams that can be tracked during 3+ seasons is incredibly low. Among the teams below, only Liquid have played roughly an equal number of tournaments at home (in US or Canada) and on the road. The figures represent an average place the team's final standings on the home/away offline tournaments during the year (the sum of final places divided into the number of events). All the results are taken from the Liquipedia Counter-Strike page. Only S-Tier and A-Tier tournaments were taken into consideration.
*The final places such as 5th-6th, 5th-8th, 13th-16th etc. were counted as average numbers: 5,5, 6,5, 14,5 respectively.
*S-Tier and A-Tier group stage offline tournaments were also counted. The difference between the number of participants was not considered.
Natus Vincere played around 3 tournaments at home during the season. The team's best result at home was in 2018, when the guys played 3 Grand Finals in front of their own fans, but managed to win only 1. According to the table, NA’VI does not really feel home field advantage in 2016 and 2019 years, however, they performed much better at home arenas in 2017 and 2018. In general, the HFA factor does not play a big role in NaVi results.
Ninjas in Pyjamas also did not play many S-Tier and A-Tier events in Sweden. With an average of 2 big home events per year, NiP still shows that the factor of home audience gives a team quite a nice boost in terms of tournament results. Swedish CSGO team has shown better results at home arenas for 4 consecutive years (In 2018 there were less than 2 big events in Sweden, so this year was not counted).
Although G2 is not a completely French team, it has mostly French roster since 2016 and a big fan base in France. The team has played a low number of events in France, so its stats may differ from the real picture the most among 4 presented teams. In general, the number of years and events is too low to make some serious conclusions on the HFA factor for G2 Esports.
Team Liquid has an almost perfect spread of tournaments played at home and on the road. It is also the closest home/away ratio to traditional team sports. Liquid’s home records are better than away in 4/5 years. Team Liquid has been on dominant roles in the world's csgo scene for more than 5 years and in most cases nitr0 and Co perform better at home arenas.
Check out eSports teams rankings and match predictions for the upcoming games.
Home field advantage in CS:GO and EPL comparison
As you can see at the moment it is too early to compare CS:GO home/away results to traditional team sports. Moreover, most of Counter Strike teams have international rosters and a big fan base in numerous countries around the world. Other mono-country teams such as ENCE, Astralis, North and especially 100 Thieves or MIBR cannot enjoy playing many offline tournaments at home soil.
Soccer English Premier League Season 2018-19 final results by Premier League official website:
In the Football national league, every team plays an equal number of matches at home stadium and on road. Unlike eSports, it is easy to track the difference between games won at home and away. As you can see from the table, the famous Top-6 teams of EPL have all scored more points at home in the 2018-2019 season. This is true for nearly all Premier League teams in every season. However, several exceptions occur every year due to different factors like low home attendance, big pressure from the fans, etc. For instance, in the highlighted 2018-19 EPL season, Crystal Palace scored 20 points at home and 29 points on the road. Nevertheless, in general, circa 57% of total points of EPL teams are scored at home and 43% points are scored on road.
When talking about CS:GO, in 12/15 cases the highlighted teams have shown better average annual results at home arenas than when traveling to other countries. Therefore, we cannot deny the existence of home field advantage in Counter Strike, but we can not track the exact percentage so far.
Is HFA a significant factor in Counter Strike: Global Offensive?
In conclusion, the results have proven that home field advantage does affect esports teams. While some teams may not feel the difference between home and away audience, most teams and players find it easier to perform in front of their own audience. No doubts, psychology plays a key factor there. All players want to attract fellow citizens to cheer for them during important events, therefore, they convince themselves and the fans that the home audience support really improves the performance. Apart from that, there are also physical factors such as no long-distance flights and acclimatization.
On the other hand, the influence of HFA in esports is not as significant as in basketball or football. Due to the low number of records, it is yet impossible to make a solid thesis on what is the real impact of home arenas on professional eSports players. However, one we can say for sure – home field advantage is a factor that should be considered when trying to predict an outcome of the tournament.
The report is prepared by BuffHub esports News. Bookmark the website to check out all the latest news, tournament previews, reviews, team & player rankings and match predictions.