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DreamHack Summer 2024 – What Esports is all About

by News7

DreamHack Summer 2024 is a reminder to me that esports and in-person events are brilliant, beautiful, and better than ever.

As I sat in a busy hall, full of Swedish fans cheering on local side Alliance, it strikes you how much of this aspect of esports is lost when you only watch it online. DreamHack Summer isn’t the largest event in the esports scene, it isn’t even the largest in Jonkoping, that title goes to the Winter version of this event. But, sitting in the venue you get an idea of the love for the event, and it reminds you why you come to these events in the first place.

Look, we all know how it is. The online gaming space can be a horrible place, and people are toxic, but it doesn’t have to be like this, in fact, it isn’t. See, esports is weird and it’s become an entertainment property that is consumed by people online 99% of the time. But for the 1% or so that attend events, esports changes, it becomes another beast entirely.

DreamHack | Freja Borne
This is where DreamHack Summer comes into our story. DreamHack is known the World over for the events it produces, but, DreamHack Summer, and the town of Jonkoping are something special. The event started in the late 90s, and, apart from COVID the event has gone strong every year since. I’ve attended the event as a ‘fan’ for the past 5 years as I used to live in the town. This year, however, I went as the press to get a different perspective on the event, and spent a little more time at the event, and more importantly the esports.

For DreamHack Summer this year, there are a lot of different events to check out. We have the Esports World Cup, with EAFC 24, Tekken, and Street Fighter. The Swedish regional CS2 competition, and, probably the main attraction for most, the ESL Challenger event.

As we mentioned at the start of this story, the Challenger event had the added advantage of featuring a Swedish roster for a change in the form of Alliance. Sadly, in their two games on the stage, they couldn’t get the win that, if I’m being honest a part of me wanted. Local fans only got to see the team play on Friday, but with Saturday being the busiest of the weekend, it was a shame not to see them play in front of a huge local crowd.

DreamHack | David Johansson
While the fairytale wasn’t to be, the local crowd did not fail to deliver. One of the magical things about esports, is a lot of people are just at the games to watch good esports, rather than going with the intention of supporting their team. As the series goes on, fans step up and react to the game, the players on the stage and the fans below almost reacting off of one another. It’s a magical thing to witness in person, and something even the Twitch chat just cannot replicate.

While not unique to DreamHack Summer, something that does come across in the Arena is how young some of the people in the crowd are. I’m a parent, so it’s special to see parents bringing their kids to an in-person event. Most of the people reading this are probably of an age that is used to the ‘pushback’ we get for enjoying esports, and how it’s a waste of time. but that’s changing, and I think this weekend was the first time I saw it with my own eyes.

Esports World Cup – Bringing in a New Crowd
DreamHack Summer is more than just an esports event, indie convenstion, activation station, air show spectacular, family day out, food court, and all-around fun time… it’s also one of, if not the largest LAN events in the World, with around 35k plus coming to the LAN alone. Once again, the event is packed full of people bringing their PCs across the country to game together. Honestly, I never really used to understand the appeal. But this year I walked around the areas and just watched what was going on.

Credit @Monster Energy
What you see is friends, who probably only play online together, playing in person and having fun. In fact, the LAN area is so popular that it’s broke down into three seperate areas. A large ‘general’ area, a more premium space, and a quiet area for people who want to play games without the sounds of the venue. Honestly, I’m a convert to the idea, and while it’s probably not something I would do, and with press priviledges we already get a nice quiet place to do our work. But, if my kid ever wanted to come when they are older, I’d not hate the idea of them attending.

DreamHack 2024 in Focus
Another major addition to this year’s DreamHack Summer is the ‘Road to the World Cup’ event. While I spent less time in the arena, something that was clear was the diverse groups of people watching the events. Both the fighting games and EAFC attract a very different audience to the DreamHack weekend. While this might not seem like a huge deal, what it does is bring a new group of people into the esports and DreamHack ecosystem.

EAFC especially, with the event being an open bracket, anyone could enter provided they paid the low entry fee. And while the events massively overran each day, they culminated in some of the most exciting events of the weekend, period.

While we never know what events will feature at future DreamHacks, it was clear from the vibe in the Arena that EAFC, and fighting games would be more than welcomed back if schedules aligned.

DreamHack | Freja Borne
DreamHack Summer – LANding 2025?
Credit @Monster Energy
You never know if you’re attending the last event in a series or just the next chapter in the story. DreamHack Jönköping has always had two events, Summer, and Winter. And while, at least for now, Winter has been moved to Stockholm the Summer event has remained.

While I don’t have an official answer to ‘Will we see DreamHack Summer 2025’; I can say with confidence that at least the fans in Sweden will be keen to return. Jönköping is a strange place to get to. For those not familiar, Jonkoping is fairly ‘central’, stuck between three major cities, but lacking an airport large enough to get people here and being off the major train networks.

That said, visitor numbers wouldn’t have you thinking it was hard to get to. Though, DreamHack Summer and Winter have always felt very ‘Swedish’. Maybe that’s part of the charm of the events, and while I am slightly biased, DreamHack in Jönköping is always a highlight of my esports year. This year was also the first-ever event my daughter was able to attend, so let’s hope it’s the first of many to come.

A special thank you to the team at DreamHack and Monster who were so accommodating to me while I was here.

David has written for games media outlets for the last ten years. With his first major esports role being with Esports News UK covering mostly UK League of Legends. David is also a member of the British Esports Association and is an advisor to them on World of Warcraft Esports. More recently David has worked for Esports Insider and Red Bull as an esports journalist.
David later became Editor at ESTNN and now leads the current team.

Source : Estnn

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