DreamHack Dallas 2019 was the first time that the Swedish convention had come to the city, after being held in Austin, Texas since 2016. With the ribbon-cutting speeches promising a gaming festival larger than any other in North America, DreamHack didn’t disappoint, offering up a smörgåsbord of esports tournaments from pro to high school level for gaming fans.
With Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Rocket League, Halo 3, Madden NFL 19, the DreamHack Mobile Series featuring Public Battle Grounds Unknown: Mobile, Clash Royale, Brawl, the Fighting Game Championships (FGC) that featured Super Smash Bros. Melee and Ultimate, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Brawlhalla, Mortal Kombat 11, Soulcalibur VI, Street Fighter V Arcade Edition, and Tekken 7, there was no shortage of tournaments to suit any genre of game a congoer could want.
With the majority of tournaments sharing space with the expo hall, they were easy to keep track of but if you were there for the largest tournament, the DreamHack Masters CS:GO tournament, you got to head into an arena unlike any other put at a North American DreamHack. In a separate space, separated into balcony and floor seating, six teams competed for a prize pool totaling $250, 000. With the Grand Final ending with Team Liquid versus ENCE, the packed stadium was electric, with most in attendance cheering for the hometown Team Liquid, who ended up overcoming a Grand Final curse to bring home the trophy to North America, while ENCE, FURIA Esports, and FaZe Clan taking home second, third, and fourth places respectively.
For Rocket League, fans of the DreamHack ProCircuit got to watch team battle for supremacy and winnings totaling $100,000. Ultimately, Team SoloMid and Cloud9 duke it out in a nerve-wracking Grand Final that brought everyone to the center of the expo hall, with Cloud9 taking home the Pro Circuit win. Also happening in the main expo area, fans of Halo 3 watched teams compete in the DreamHack Halo Grassroots tournament, with Tox Gaming beating out 15 other teams, dominating newcomer Falling Gaming in the Grand Final.
Apart from the games mentioned above, where mainly professional esports teams competed, some of the other tournaments allowed for congoer competition, namely as for Madden NFL 19. Every congoer over the age of 16-years old was eligible to enter and compete for a slice of the $25,000 prize pool. In addition to that, Dallas was also home to the DreamHack + AVGL Collegiate Series. Here, the AVGL ran Rocket League and Apex tournaments among 20 teams on the main stage of DreamHack Dallas. All of which was broadcasted professionally on DreamHack’s Twitch channel. The participating universities included: University of North Texas, UT Austin, UTSA, UT Arlington, Texas A&M, Louisiana State University, University of Oklahoma, Baylor University, and Texas Christian University. With the University of North Texas winning the Rocket League tournament and UTSA taking home the win of the APEX tournament.
But the student spotlight didn’t end there! Dreamhack Dallas 2019 was also home to the High School Showdown: Smash. Presented by HSEL, this featured eight teams from Dallas area high schools who showcased five of their best Smash players each, bused them to DreamHack, where they competed in a Crew Battles tournament. High School Showdown: Smash featured teams from Arlington Heights High School, Highland Park High School, Forney Independent School District, Fort Worth Independent School District, Castleberry Independent School District, Bishop Independent School District, Burleson Independent School District, and Wakeland High School. The weekend ended with Burleson Independent School District taking home the title.
While the tournaments were great for spectators, congoers with Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) passes had the chance to compete in LANs throughout the weekends, putting together smaller competitions played for bragging rights and bonding instead of large pots. In addition, even if you didn’t bring your own PC, the Dreamhack Dallas offered a PC FREEPLAY Zone, powered by CLX. The FREEPLAY Zone also boasted organized tournaments with prizes and surprising attendees with a daily scavenger hunt with prizes worth more than $3000.
As for the expo hall floor? None other than Dallas’ own Overwatch League team, the Dallas Fuel, was in attendance along with Team ENVY. In addition, I got a chance to see Mav’s Gaming, the official esports team of the NBA team the Dallas Mavericks. If you didn’t know, the NBA is the first U.S. professional sports league to operate an official esports league. Focused on NBA 2K, the league is a joint venture between the NBA and TakeTwo Interactive, publishers of NBA 2K. Mavs Gaming, one of 17 teams in the NBA 2K League, will field a roster of six players who will be selected from a pool of the world’s best gamers via the League Draft in March.
In its first year, DreamHack Dallas has proven its ability to get as much esports in one place. With vastly different game types, the convention offered never-ending entertainment regardless of your tastes in games. In addition, the choice to showcase collegiate and high school teams offer young congoers the ability to see that they can compete too. There truly was something for everyone.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.