Esports betting has grown in popularity during the last year or two. Like the sports and the field itself these were at first mostly presented by a bunch of geeks building their own websites from scratch, and often offering something completely else than money as the currency. For example weapon skins, rare items, in game money and other things were offered for winners. Today a few major international betting companies have picked up the most famous games of the moment, and they are offering bets for these games. For people who are in the know, or who have followed the sports, now have quite an opportunity to make some money. Most likely the people running these betting sites are good bookmakers, but don’t know exactly yet hot to turn the odds in their favor. As such someone with a good knowledge of eSports can make some excellent bets. Surely this will change in the future, as the this part of the industry is still in its infancy.
The best eSports betting sites:
What Are eSports?
eSports, short for electronic sports, is a way of playing computer and video games competitively. The history is quite straightforward for those who have ever played computer games, or who have ever enjoyed watching competitive events. In short two or more players are competing against each other in a game, with spectators either online or live following and even betting on the games. The field is quite new, though clearly it has been in the making ever since the first games were played online. Given that many big betting companies have started offering bets and markets on eSports it’s quite clear that there is starting to be quite a growing number of players, viewers and bettors interested in these events.
Though relatively unknown to the larger audience still, the games themselves are well known. With PlayStation, Xbox, Computer and other devices being as popular as they are the market base is basically half the world. It might well be that esports will in the future outnumber traditional sports, and we do even have some indication of this from countries like Korea where the boom originally started, and where people are playing these game for a living. Pro gamers, as they are called, are starting to rival pop and sports stars in popularity and fan base.
Though for the untrained eye and ear it might sound a bit boring to watch someone play a computer game the opposite is true. Easiest way to imagine this is to simply understand that like for example in football you are watching professional gamers whose skill level far surpasses those of your own. The best way to get to know esports is therefore to simply pick your favorite game, and check out some YouTube videos of people playing them. You might be quite surprised to find out how interesting it actually is.
History of eSports
Without a doubt there are some early tournaments played in 80’s and 90’s already, the popularity of the sports only started to rise with the advent of high speed internet combined with extremely high quality games. We are not going to delve into space invaders and other 8-bit computer games, though even these are still popular with some hard core fans, and instead concentrate on the things that made it possible to laugh at our elders when they said no one is ever gonna make a penny playing video games. Or in other words the professional gaming world and especially the newborn industry around it.
The first real push towards competitive playing came with internet, and the ability for people all over the world to play against each other. The second one was the massive popularity of some games, with millions of players you are bound to have both a playerbase and an eventual audience. Like with any sports the first organisation attempts came from players themselves, with leagues, tournaments and leaderboards springing up here and there. This was further expanded when popular online game stores like Steam started appearing, and communities found a more natural and easier way to build themselves up. Naturally, this is also when money started to play a bigger role in the field, and it became possible to earn a living through gaming.
Further down the road YouTube, Vimeo and other streaming services started becoming popular, and it was possible to follow online play like you would follow any sports. These days there’s no small number of people who make a proper living by simply broadcasting themselves playing, commenting and introducing different games. This then combined with the above mentioned really created the market for eSports. Most importantly it allowed the amount of spectators to skyrocket. Once again we can compare this to rise of football, perhaps the most popular sport in the world, which started from small games and as a simple hobby to organisations that could organise events that the whole world follows. Esports have risen quickly, and will continue to do so thanks to globalisation, and how small the world has become these days.
The latest revolution has come with the slow death of television and cable companies, that were unable to keep up with the times. Services like Netflix made it possible for people to watch the shows they want when they want no matter where they are, and likewise services that stream online games have made it possible for people to follow and pay for shows, or in this case games, that they want to watch. In a way the rise of esports required the collapse of traditional viewing habits, which it is now in a sense leading itself. Though the games do not yet rival traditional sports they are on their way to do so, and this is evident from the rise of companies and organisation that promote electronic sports. One example of this is, as mentioned previously, the growing number of betting companies that offer odds and markets for the most popular egames. Without a doubt one of the most prominent factor in this is also the fact that the people who used to play these games as teenagers are now in their 30’s and they have a lot of money to spend on their hobbies. There’s also quite a good few words that could be written about piratism and why it was pointless to fight against it, but that belongs into another article.
Most popular eSports game
Though there are hundreds, if not thousands, of games that you can play online only a handful have made their way into competitive gaming. This is because most egames are still just entertainment, and they are meant to be played for fun and not competition. What is extremely interesting about the most popular ones is that they tend to be heavily modded by the players themselves. Counter Strike for example was a popular mod for the super popular Half-Life series(yeah, I am waiting for that third part as well that will no doubt ever emerge). It took a good decade for the game to rise into the level it is now. This was partly because the other services, as mentioned above, were not on par yet to fully exploit and build the kind of services necessary for competitive gaming. Below is our look at the few most popular eSports video games of the moment. There’s plenty of other games and game types to consider of course, but these are one of the biggest ones at this date.
DotA and DotA2
DotA or Defense for the Ancients as the whole name goes, is one of the most popular online games at the moment. It stems from one of the most popular gaming series, namely Warcraft, and it is once again a player developed mod that was later picked up as an official product(DotA 2) by Valve, which in turn is one of the biggest and most successful gaming companies of our time. DotA is no longer played that much thanks to the sequel which was a completely professional game released in 2013, and which still receives regular updates.
The game pits two teams against each other with the simple goal of eliminating the other team. The game type is a multiplayer online battle arena, or MOBA for short. As you can see the online crowd is quite a fan of abbreviations. Both teams are made up of five players, each having their base in one corner of the map. The players control heroes that level up as they defeat structures like guard towers and weak computer controlled minions known as creeps. Like most other online computer games DotA2 is all about skill, with players aiming to level up their heroes as fast as possible in order to outmatch their opponents. All heroes have skills and it’s extremely important to know how these affect each other, and how they can be used in combination to defeat the opponent. Unlike traditional sports these video games often emphasize reaction skills and ability to quickly solve issues and problems that arise.
Dota2 tournaments often have prize pools of millions of dollars, though these are for the very high skilled players. You can compare the structure of these tournaments to poker tournaments, which often have smaller tournaments, known as satellites, that allow players to advance through multiple paths into the very end. Competition is fierce of course, with usually each country sporting a single team of the very best players. The games are by no means in any kind of national level, the teams are simply built up this way due to social connections. The international Dota2 tournament has a prize pool of nearly 20 million dollars, and as such it rivals most other big games. As the game continues to gain popularity we expect this to raise even higher.
League of Legends
It might come as a surprise for those who have never watched esports that one of the most popular online games League of Legends constantly features tournaments with millions of viewers, mostly online. For example the annual World Championship in 2015 had 334 million viewers during the whole 4 week period that the game lasted, with an average game having over 4 million spectators. For this reason it’s quite a surprise that eSports are still not getting as much publicity as they clearly should. The final itself was followed by over 14 million people.
League of Legends itself is once again originally a player made mod to Warcraft. In fact, many of the most popular online games have followed this same path. As said before the popularity of eSports was able to skyrocket thanks to simply building up the fanbase first with successful single player games and then with popular online games. The game shares similarities with DotA, however runs quite differently. Once again two teams compete against each other with the goal of accomplishing an objective that crowns them as the winner of the match. Guiding their champions in matches that can last up to an hour the players aim to level up their characters, while fighting off and destroying enemy forces. Once again skill and reaction times are at the forefront, as players need to know what they are doing in order to get the most out of their chosen or assigned champions. Depending on the game type these can all be randomised or chosen, adding to the difficulty and skill required.
League of Legends was originally released by Riot Games in 2009, and the game is primarily funded through micro-purchases, or in other words through community support. The game continues to be well supported and update to this day, and even though it has already been six years in the play this doesn’t really show graphics or technicwise. Besides the field of eSports the game enjoys an extremely wide playerbase, and is perhaps one of the most popular online games ever made. The top League of Legend tournaments often feature several million in prize money, and with the ever growing popularity of the game and the industry this is bound to skyrocket in no short time. The game is one of the most popular ones in Korea, which is a country that can be considered the home of competitive online gaming.
Counter Strike Global offensive is perhaps a game known and tried by most if not all gamers. Even casual gamers should be familiar with the name. Originally a mod to Half-Life, one of the most acclaimed game series ever made, the game draws its player base from all around the world. It’s no small amount of time I used to spend with this game as a teenager either. Contrary to the other popular online eSport games Counter Strike is an FPS, or in other words a first person shooter. Of course the game was quickly transformed from a mod into a full fledged game, and it is a far cry today from the original modification. The game has retained it’s popularity ever since it was originally published in 2003.
The goal in the game is to, once again, defeat the other team. This can be done by eliminating all opposing players, or according to the mission objective. Usually this means either planting a bomb and blowing up the target, or defusing the said bomb. The game has a wide online following, but in stark contrast to other similar eSport games offers mostly live tournaments. Though team based the game features single players as the main stars. Knowledge of maps, weapons and the like are extremely crucial as are once again reaction times and skill. Extreme gaming devices are in wide demands, as for example mouses that can track the lightest movement are very beneficial. This is of course because a millimeter to any direction can make a difference between a killshot or giving your enemy one.
The most popular CS tournaments feature prize pools from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Like with other online games the betting is mainly done on fan sites, and often doesn’t really have mun but rare items, skins and the like as prizes. We will no doubt see changes in this field as betting companies have begun to offer odds for the major tournaments and matches. The premier tournaments offer prize pools of millions of dollars, making it once again possible for top players to make quite a cashful living out of playing video games. This once again is something that was not possible a decade or so ago.
Startcraft shares some ground with Warcraft, arguably the most popular gaming franchise so far, but stands on its own to feet as an independent and extremely popular game. The first game in the series was one of the most popular Real Time Strategy games ever, and it laid the foundations for Blizzard Entertainments ever growing popularity. The game was originally announced in 2003, and was published after staggering 7 years in the development in July 2010. Once again the origins of tournament play game from Korea, a country that has always been in the forefront of eSport gaming.
The game universe has quite a rich and detailed background, and one of the reasons why the series became so popular was it’s ever growing fictional world. The them is militaristic and scifi, and the main game features three races fighting for the control of known and unknown universe. The insect like Zergs, the advanced Protoss alien race and of course the proud Terran Alliance. While the other games we’ve covered here are mainly for online play Starcraft is definitely also a single player game, one that we can heartily recommend to any fan of computer games. It has become such an iconic product that it should be played simply for general knowledge of video games, in the same way that one would watch classic movies for entertainment and cultural purposes.
The game offers diverse gameplay between the three races, carefully balanced to offer both quantity and quality strategies, with the humans being somewhere in the middle with their technologies. The game also had widely popular modding capabilities that further spun it into its current popularity. Starcraft 2 is not as popular as other egames, but it still has a very large fan base and following. This is partly as the game is more concentrated around single players than team based games. The tournaments offer tens of thousands of dollars in prize money, with the largest having over half a million dollars in the pool. Incidentally the amount of tournaments have been growing in recent years. Starcraft has also gained further publicity in the form of novels, some of which have become quite popular among players.
Popular game types
The most popular game types are of course those with most players. The same rules apply as for everything else from sports to betting to slots: the more players the more publicity and the more money there is in the game. The games can be further divided into several different types, each with their own player and fanbase. When playing or following online it’s good to know and understand these different categories, what they require of players and why they are so popular. Below is quick overlook on different type of online games that are starting to gain popularity in the Esports scene, both from players and spectators alike.
Fighting games are not at the very core of Egaming, this is because unlike most egames they stem from gaming consoles and arcade games. It is still however competitive gaming, which is why we included it in this review. Of course they share similarities, and function much the same way. There’s plenty of tournaments available for different games, though they tend to have a smaller but perhaps more dedicated fan base than most other gaming types.
Generaly speaking fighting games are video games where people fight against each other using a variety of characters with different skills and moves. In these games the objective is to simply literally beat the opposing player. Skill and memorization play a big part of the gaming process, and funnily enough there are some examples of blind players who are extremely good at these games simply because they can ram the right buttons and combinations. These games might not feature massive amounts of players or money, but they do have a significant and dedicated following. Below is a list of the most popular Fighting Games:
- Street Fighter
- Super Smash Bros
First person shooters are games that are played, as you can guess, from the first person perspective. Usually this means guiding a solitary soldiers of many molds through different kinds of maps. The most famous of these games is of course Counter Strike, though recently plenty of other series and titles have challenged the position. However, from egaming and betting point of view CS retains the spot as most famous game. The games range from death matches to specific objectives, though perhaps team deathmatch is the most popular one still to date.
The themes for these games range from scifi to medieval and even primeval, as well as completely fantasy to extremely realistic games. Perhaps one of the best example of the latter is the American Army FPS(first person shooter), which was sponsored by the US state itself and is even used for training. In other words these might range from one shot one kill systems to completely weird utopistic shooters where players can dish out and take damage from nuclear weapons without dying. In that sense this is perhaps the most diverse field of games.
The history of these games warrants an article by its own right, but suffice to say the very first ones were completely different from the ones we see today. Some people swear games such as Doom and Quake are still among the best, and there’s some truth t this when you consider that some newer games only offer improved graphics. Funnily enough, the original Doom, released in 1993, recently received a completely fresh makeover and was re-released in 2016.
Below is a list of some of the most popular FPS games of the moment, not all of these have yet broken into competitive sports and betting. Others have completely fanbased systems that feature weapon skin trading and other similar features:
- Call of Duty series
- Far Cry
- Team Fortress
- Counter Strike: Global Offensive
- Unreal Tournament
- Battle Field
- Rainbow Six
- World of Tanks
RTS, short for Real Time Strategy, are games that usually leave the game in charge of a base or a group of units, with the goal of defeating the enemy with similar setup. Starcraft is the main example, though Warcraft and games like Command and Conquer are quite famous titles as well. The main feature compared to traditional strategy, say games like chess, is that the games proceed in real time. The level of actual strategy in these games is quite debatable, though pretty much everything from clickfests to complicated games of real strategy where every move counts are present. In the field of competitive gaming the most popular format is still the rock, paper, scissors setup: for example long range units defeat short range units, air units defeat long range units and short range units defeat air units. The required strategy is to know what defeats what, and how you can build up and gather resources a fast as possible.
Dune is often seen as the very first of these games, stemming from the popular book and later movie of same name. Today these games are extremely popular, though most of the actual games that are considered competitive eSport games are derivatives that you can read below about: the so called MOBA or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games. Most of these games have a militaristic theme, as peaceful games tend not to be all that competitive. The games usually feature a lot of micromanagement, which means that people who are capable of keeping track of several things at first and are quick to make decisions, and of course can click faster than anyone tend to rule the leaderboards. Below is a list of the most popular RTS games:
- Starcraft in all forms
- Warcraft in all forms
- Total War series
- Age of Empires
- Total Annihilation
- Company of Heroes
Well who doesn’t know FIFA? Of course the most popular sports game is the most popular sports in the world: football. These games are not that popular as eSports title however, again as they are mostly played on consoles. They are however extremely popular among all kinds of sports fans, and it is most likely only a matter of time until they are transformed into the world of eSports. Though in previous years the games have mostly been played among friends the high speed internet connections and the services that Microsoft and Sony have launched for their consoles have made the games available for play all around the world. You can easily match your skills against opponents from anywhere. Several of the newer game titles, such as the latest NBA games, even have leagues and tournaments where the purpose is to rise in ranks. Motor sports fall into this same category, though they have not really broken into egaming as of yet.
Fantasy football and other games that are not played in real time belong to this same genre. In these games the players are usually given a budget which they can use to build a team, which in turn is then linked to real world events such as football, basketball and similar games. As players score in real matches the players are awarded points, which allows them to rise in rank. There’s a few examples form USA where some of these games were already banned as they were seen as a form of online gambling. Luckily such laws that force these decisions are in the process of being overturned. These will continue to grow in popularity as they link the love of sports and experience of gaming in a perfect fashion. We have listed a few games here that are both popular and are breaking the molds of what a sports game used to be:
- Need for Speed
- Madden NFL
- Pro Evolution Soccer
- Mario Sports
Multiplayer online battle arena
MOBA for short the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena is at the moment the most popular type of eSports game at the moment. The different tournaments, both online and offline offer up to tens of millions in prize pools, though perhaps the more common sums are between thousand and hundreds of thousands. This is no easy money of course, and becoming a professional player is becoming as difficult as in any real life sport. Years of gameplay and honing skills is required to make it to the top teams, where competition is fierce. The games have gained extreme amounts of spectators, and these have further even fueled the popularity of different online streaming services. Players or teams typically start from a similar footing on two or more sides of the map, and play until either side or sides are defeated, leaving only the winner standing.
Most of these game have their roots in player modifications, which also explain why they are so popular: the players themselves have been able to mold the games as they wish. Often they also stem from games that have already been popular like the Warcraft series. Though this also allows adding several victory conditions the destruction of the enemy team is the most common one. Though originally a subgenre of RTS games the MOBAs have become so successful that they stand on their own right these days. MOBAs also differ in the sense that generally each player only controls one unit and there is no base management. Originally these games were only available for PC gamers, but lately there have been several new games gaining popularity in consoles as well, albeit to date these have not really struck into the esports genre.
Strategy in these games usually comes in the form of deciding what unit to use, and how to level it up, as well as knowing which skills to use and when. For the untrained eye the games often seem chaotic, and to an extent they are, but for those familiar with the games the levels of skill differ vastly. Once again familiarizing yourself with the different maps is required, and even though they usually follow a default theme standing in the wrong spot might mean the difference between a victory and defeat. The themes in these games range from magic and sword to scifi.
When it comes to Esports this is without a doubt the most successful genre, with both online and live tournaments widely available. The viewer base for these alone sometimes runs into tens of millions, with the games themselves raking in views via YouTube and other streaming services in their millions. Below is our recap of the most famous, important and influential Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games:
- League of Legends
- Defense of the Ancients, 1 and 2
- Heroes of Newerth
- Heroes of Storm
Esport competitions and events
Esport tournaments and competitions are run both online and offline, with plenty of viewers for both. Korea is once again in the forefront on this field, with players having huge fanbases and crowds of tens of thousands filling stadiums. The players themselves have even attained the rockstar status that your mother and father told you was a complete impossibility when you spent and hour or two too long playing video games in to the late night. These days you can definitely make a living by playing video games, though you really need to be good at it. of course, another way to make money via them is to bet on the the outcomes. Some of the competitions have been active for several decades now, started by a few enthusiastic players and now gathering crowds of thousands.
Lately the newest trend has been that of actual business and companies popping up to to take advantage of this, and to of course organise the field. This is a clear indicator that there’s money to be made in eSports as people are confident they can make a living from organizing it from something else than fan based system. The rise of Esports tournaments are seen to have stemmed from South Korea(and rather unsurprisingly not from Best Korea), where the available high speed internet and apparent high youth unemployment laid the foundation for the sports. As have been previously mentioned throughout this article several times it was a matter of several different metrics and modifiers coming together at the right time. As these same players have matured, and gotten rid of unemployment, there has been more and more money available to turn what was once a hobby into a professional sports.
Here’s a few of the more famous are as follows:
- Apex – located in USA, and featuring fighting games, Pokemon(with the new Pokemon Go this is set to explode) and Super Smash Bros.
- Battle.Net World Championship Series – an event sponsored by Blizzard Entertainment, mainly featuring games of the same producer.
- Blizzcon – same as above, expect an official event running since 2005. Games like Starcraft, Warcraft and Overwatch are viewed by thousands of fans.
- DreamHack – largest digital expo in the world, with heavy emphasis on eSports. held in separate places throughout Europe.
- Electronic Sports League – launched in the year 2000 this is actually separate events covering all kinds of things eSports related.
- Intel Extreme Masters – Intel sponsored events held throughout the world, and of course promoting Intel products for gaming purposes.
- Major league Gaming – one of the main organisation holding eSport events in the world, often with a hefty prize pool.
- The International – DotA 2 based events that feature millions in prize money
Leagues and tournaments prize pools
Throughout the years the prize pools for the minor and major tournaments have grown almost exponentially. At the start of eSports there was hardly any prizes to be won, partly as the gaming was seen just as a hobby. Nowdays the major tournaments and events pay out millions, even tens of millions. Due to the popularity of streaming the money available has also grown, and no doubt will continue to grow. Often these companies also gift away gaming hardware and other goodies. The prize pools are gathered from fees, sponsorships, ticket sales, viewers and other similar sources. This is still perhaps a bit early days for eSports, and most of the events are not completely professional in the sense that organizers are enthusiastics and volunteers. As more and more related industries become interested in this field of sports the whole industry and field around eSports is set to rise into completely new heights. For now we represent few of the major leagues with their prize pools, most of these are starting to become available for betting which we think will further enhance the experience:
- The International – Dota2 prize pools actually dominate the top ten of all eSports, and then top one of these is the International. For 2016 the total prize pool is 19 million dollars.
- Smite World Championships – the total prize pool for Smite is 2.6 million US dollars. The event is attended by best teams from all around the world.
- Halo World Championships – this sponsored event has a total prize pool of 2.5 million US dollars.
- League of Legends World Championship – this LoL based tournament has a prize pool of little over 2 million, and it is held in South Korea.
- Eleague – with a prize pool of 1.4 million dollars this is the largest Counter Strike tournament in the world.
- Call of Duty Championship – a cool million is in the prize pool for this Call of Duty tournament.
As one can expect there has been some controversies in the world of eGaming. This is partly due to the fact that the industry is new, and sometimes the events, even with sizeable prize pools, have run by complete amateurs. Sometimes this has led to no prize money being paid out, or events failing completely. There’s also a few legal messes, and other issues that have arisen in the very first few years of eSports gaming. For example DotA2 had copyright issues between the bigger software companies, as the game was based on Warcraft and later developed by an independent studio into a separate gaming. Thankfully most of these issues have been left behind or sorted completely.
Twitch, etc live streams and medias
Pne of the reasons why online gaming is so popular these days is the availability of streaming services. These allow players and fans to follow their favorite players playing eSports games. While this has been made fun of in quite a few comedy shows and in no small number of shows like South Park the reality is that it has become a completely new form of entertainment. While it might not be even understood by the older generations the new ones have grown up with tablets and smartphones where they can watch whatever they want whenever they want. Similarly to TV and movies raising the previous generations the current ones are raised by whatever they have wanted to watch. Most popular of these is of course Youtube, though we can’t peak of a true streaming service in the sense that these are usually pre-recorded videos. Personally I would see this as a continuation of gaming, where once upon a time we used to read tips, guides and walkthroughs for our favorite games. People who watch these kinds of shows and videos are of course interested in skill as much as entertainment; and this is something that should be understood by the larger audience, eSports have become and are becoming a major source of entertainment. No doubt the fact that Hollywood movies and most TV shows have deteriorated in quality in the last few decades has helped this tremendously.
One should also not forget that the games themselves are in some cases endless sources of fun, and the fact that most of the most popular games are user made modifications is proof of this. A TV show you can watch, but a game you can interact with. As a form of media they also offer a new way of reviewing and understanding games. Not to mention that even slot games have gained quite a following in these services, with people playing and reviewing them through online media. One aspect of this popularity is also all kinds of fan made sites, modifications, comics, YouTube series and other products. one benefit of the internet is clearly the ability of anyone to post anything, which also happens to be the one major drawback.
Twitch is actually the one streaming service that is, at the moment, raising it’s popularity tremendously. For example a recent League of legends tournament finals gained over 1.7 millions viewers. For example in comparison the very first episode of the super popular Game of Thrones had 2.2 million viewers(granted, the last episode of last season had almost 10 million), and when comparing the money spent on TV shows, movies and the like in comparison to games as entertainment and for viewing the numbers are extremely large. And they are bound to grow by leaps and bounds as more and more people who see gaming as their primary form of entertainment grown into adulthood.
Beside live streaming there’s also podcasts, which are rivaling the age old radio as a a form of communication. There are plenty of course for these, as once again anyone with any will to spend time on their hobby can offer their opinion on the internet. The major downside of this is that you might need to spend a bit of time researching your way into the ones that are worth listening, but then again for those of us who have grown up using internet such a thing is quite natural. It is quite exciting watching this industry grow up and expand into completely new fields, and most of all challenging all the traditional sports and medias.
Esports betting has been growing exponentially over the last year or two. Like the sports and the field itself these were at first mostly presented by a bunch of geeks building their own websites from scratch, and often offering something completely else than money as the currency. For example weapon skins, rare items, in game money and other things were offered for winners. Today a few major international betting companies have picked up the most famous games of the moment, and they are offering bets for these games. For people who are in the know, or who have followed the sports, now have quite an opportunity to make some money. Most likely the people running these betting sites are good bookmakers, but don’t know exactly yet hot to turn the odds in their favor. As such someone with a good knowledge of eSports can make some excellent bets. Surely this will change in the future, as the this part of the industry is still in its infancy.
Stay tuned for our reviews, and the meantime check out a few of the sites we have recommended: