Dreamhack Melbourne 2023 Was The Most Laid Back Esports Event I’ve Ever Been To

Dreamhack Melbourne 2023 Was The Most Laid Back Esports Event I’ve Ever Been To

Travelling esports convention/competition, Dreamhack returned to Melbourne over the weekend for its second year. The show typically spotlights the best Australian esports talent, with the strongest competitors in the biggest games frequently vying for a spot at a larger global tournament. The show is a bright, buzzy space for competitive gaming, hosted (fittingly) at the Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas within the city’s sporting hub. Tennis courts are converted into double-sided stadiums where fans and spectators can watch the cream of Australian esports talent battle it out for cash prizes.

What was interesting about this year’s show was how remarkably chill it was. It wasn’t that the show was sparsely attended — by all accounts, the Saturday was its busiest day by far — but the halls weren’t packed, shoulder to shoulder the way they are at a PAX or a Supanova. People were able to move easily around the connected stadium halls and across the concourse to the attached Expo Hall. It didn’t feel crowded, but it also didn’t feel underattended. To be clear: I’m not giving the show a knock for this. I can’t tell you how nice it is to attend a con where I don’t have to throw elbows in the hallways or battle through crowds to get a breath of fresh air.

That said, I confess I did feel a pang of worry as I roamed the almost empty halls on Sunday morning. It seemed like holding the headline League of Legends Circuit Oceania Split 1 Grand Final on Saturday might have been an error. But it turned out everyone was just sleeping in late — I’d arrived on the ground about 10:30, and the crowds began to file in after 12, gradually settling in for an afternoon of brutally competitive CS:GO. The ESL Challenger ran across the entire weekend, culminating in a roaring Sunday night final between Movistar Riders and Bad News Eagles. Movistar Riders were a dark horse in the competition, tapped at the last minute after MongolZ pulled out to focus on the upcoming Paris leg. The team went on what can only be described as a fairytale run across the weekend, emerging from the competition undefeated and dominating the field.

In both cases — the LCO Split 1 Final that saw Sydney’s The Chiefs retain their crown, and the CS:GO ESL Challenger that bore the Riders to victory — the crowds really showed up for the showdown. The Finals were the draw, and the density of people on the ground grew over the course of the afternoon as kick-off time approached. Across the weekend, you could stick your head into games in progress on any given stage and find a smattering of die-hards in attendance. By the time the major evening competitions rolled around, just about every seat in the house was filled.

Over in the Expo Hall, a more traditional convention experience was underway, with brand-name PC part makers manning booths and local streamers hosting their channels from pre-made booths. There was a tattoo parlour and a barber for some reason, and also a bar that only served Monster Energy drinks because, sure, why not? Curiously, the FGC contingent was relegated to this area too, carrying out its tournaments and catch-ups away from the major stages. There were panels going on in this area, too. However, (and with full respect to the many panellists that arrived with valuable industry insights to share) the amount of noise in the room was such that I wonder why the organisers bothered. I understand they were probably trying to save a buck on the amount of floor space rented for the weekend, but when I go to a panel, I like to be able to hear the panellists over the convention din.

On the other hand, Dreamhack Melbourne’s decision to place the surprisingly large Artist’s Alley right at the entry to Rod Laver was an inspired idea. It sent a lot of foot traffic through a community-focused part of the show that could have just as easily been stuffed in a corner to be forgotten about.

In the end, a strong second outing for The Show Formerly Known As IEM Melbourne, which is itself The Show Formerly Known As The Melbourne Esports Open. There are obviously still problems to solve. Getting crowds to show up for earlier matches is a big one. Running it over three days when two would probably be fine is another. But taken on balance, I’m prepared to call the weekend a success. The punters had a good time, the show was about as lowkey as it’s possible for a competitive esports convention to be, and it feels like the appetite for competitive gaming in Melbourne is growing year after year.

GGWP. See you next year, Dreamhack Melbourne.

The Cheapest NBN 1000 Plans

Looking to bump up your internet connection and save a few bucks? Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


One response to “Dreamhack Melbourne 2023 Was The Most Laid Back Esports Event I’ve Ever Been To”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *