In association with Alienware
Once again we saw a spectacle unfold this weekend in Jönköping, Sweden: DreamHack Summer 2012, presented by Eizo. The event was great, the casters were wonderful and the games were intense. A few upsets occurred, making for a great storyline-changer LAN that won't be forgotten anytime soon. All pictures courtesy of DreamHacks Flickr page
. DreamHack has been a LAN series for nearly two decades, the first one having only ~40 spectators taking place in 1994. We've come a long way in the e-sports community, as well as the technology world, and due to this we've been breaking records ever since, pushing the gaming scene forward every single DreamHack event upping the entertainment and anxiousness during every game.
DreamHack, looking more like a music concert.
A lot of fun was had at this LAN, and the production value added to the entertainment from the viewers' point of view from home. With awesome transitions between streams and wisely-chosen music keeping our ears busy during downtime between matches, the overall experience from my desk was anything but disappointing. A very well-organized LAN from the DreamHack staff resulted in an awesome weekend of gaming.
One thing that stood out to me was the lack of Koreans during Championship Sunday; we only saw 3 make it into the Ro16 and only 1 make it into the Ro8. Contrary to the majority's thoughts on this, I truly believe this was a breath of fresh air to see foreigners making it into the last stages of a tournament, opposed to the Koreans dominating every single LAN in the past few months. A few locals to Sweden were the fan favorites, obviously, and that made it a more interactive experience and feeling throughout the tournament, whereas the Koreans weren't as "connected" to the crowd.
Once again, iNcontroL did his thing and stunned the crowd with his awesome casting skills -- I'll be as bold to say (as many people have before) that casting is indeed his calling, opposed to competing in tournaments. An exceptional job from Geoff this weekend and his partner Khaldor, both muscle-busting badasses that know how to cast a good Starcraft 2 game. We had djWHEAT thrown into the fray along with his partner Apollo this weekend which always is a good combo; djWHEAT being an e-sports veteran that has seen nearly everything there is to see in e-sports, and Apollo being a prodigy in the strategical field of Starcraft 2, known for his very high level knowledge of how units work and how they're utilized.
An idea of how large this LAN really is (largest in the world).
djWHEAT's presence along with Apollo's intelligent and detailed comments, allowing any listener learn about the game and understand what was going on for what reason, capped off the casters and made DreamHack a pleasure to listen to throughout the weekend going into Monday. Despite a few obvious mistakes and mixing up of names/maps as well as a little bit of going off on tangents when they could have been casting, it was a great job.
Although the matches from the foreigners were, as I said, a nice change for once, the level of play could have been higher, as it is at MLGs with the top tier players from around the world consistently playing one another in very elite games. Yes, the games at DreamHack were amazing at times and really left you at the edge of your seat, but that sense of two top players in the world facing off in a battle royale lacked in a sense, most players being just a smidge below what one could consider the best of the best. Not necessarily a con, but not really a pro either.
djWHEAT, sporting a 1960's headset.
The venue? I'll be blunt about it: worse than MLG Anaheim and way less entertaining tham the one in Stockholm during the winter championships, but still an amazing sight. I'm not disappointed, but in comparison to the massive auditorium it was somewhat of a letdown. They call it the Dream Arena, but all I saw was an opera-sized room with a few thousand spectators, not a Blizzcon-level room like we saw previously. Keep in mind DreamHack is easily the best venue in Europe amongst Starcraft 2 tournaments; consider this a respectful criticism.
We saw Athene reach his $1,000,000 goal to raise money for a charity called Save The Children that helps kids not fortunate enough to live in a sustainable household with food, water and clothes in Africa. He set on a quest to do this 80 days ago, and he reached it live on stream mid-Sunday afternoon with the help of nearly 10,000 spectators looking on to see gaming history be made. Read about itHERE
The breaks between the games were minimal, lasting no longer than about 10 minutes each unless specified. The music between the streams wasn't my favorite, but then again it is Sweden and the european dance music was something that I could appreciate for a change in style for once -- although no crowd shots during the breaks, the DJ mixing remixes constantly made it entertaining. The finals were delayed an hour due to the DotA2 tournament finishing a little bit later than initially expected, but with such a well-run tournament before this little hiccup, it's not really anything you can bash them heavily for. They were within 5 minutes of estimated times all weekend, so a 1 hour hiccup while waiting for DotA2 to finish can slide past.
A DreamHack merchandise store.
As for the Grand Finals on the Starcraft 2 stage, the match between Dimaga and Mana were somewhat one-sided, Mana doing his usual 2-base all-in to come out victorious over his opponent, and it was somewhat disappointing because of the lack of intense micro battles back and forth, or the long macro game pitching 200/200 maxed armies at one another after 20 minutes of constant playing; each of the games lasted around 15 minutes tops, if that, and the final ceremony was just the average "here's your check, shout out any fans or sponsors and we're done here" which was also a letdown for such a massive LAN, but they were running way over schedule, going into nearly 2am Tuesday morning in Sweden, so there wasn't much they could do. The 3-1 series was a bit better than bland, and still resulted in a cool match to watch.
Overall, the LAN was very entertaining. As far as the level of play at the LAN, it was obviously very high but I wouldn't consider it the same level as GSL or an MLG Arena event. We've seen better from DreamHack, but the production value of this one rivaled any other e-sports LAN within the last year, including IPL and Anaheim. Yes, they could improve on little things but the bigger picture appeared to be very clear and has improved since last time as far as content goes. I'll be curious as to what DreamHack has in store for the next LAN. Scores below.
DreamHack Summer 2012: 91/100
-upsets (NaNiwa, HerO, Stephano)
-connection with viewers
-repetitive music during finals (especially "LMFAO - Party Rock")
-casters' tangents every now and then
-although high level, not top tier play
Cadred's been covering DreamHack. Be sure to check out complete coverage HERE.