I Attended DreamHack 2016!

DreamHack was in Austin this weekend, which means it was a short fifteen minutes away from my house! Due to other obligations, I was only able to attend on Sunday, but I was okay with that because it meant I’d get to see the Grand Finals of my first ever Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament.

A tree-covered look at the Austin Convention Center.
A tree-covered look at the Austin Convention Center.
My first look at the interior of the building...
My first look at the interior of the building…
...and my first look at the inner convention.
…and walking into the convention itself.

The CS:GO tournament in question was open only to North-American teams, though two Brazilian teams were also in attendance; Luminosity Gaming and Tempo Storm. Friday and Saturday had seen all but 4 teams eliminated in knockout format, and both of the aforementioned were still in circulation, which is kinda embarrassing from an American perspective but created a cool “Battle of the countries” effect in the audience, who continually cheered for the American team over the Brazilian one.

My first sight of the tournament area, which was in a cordoned-off section midden by curtains from the rest of the con.
My first sight of the tournament area, which was in a cordoned-off section hidden by curtains from the rest of the con.

However, the first match went to Tempo Storm, who defeated Cloud9 in the tiebreaker map after an extremely close middle map that went into overtime. It honestly could have gone either way, and was easily the closest match-up of the ones I got to watch. The second match, Luminosity vs Team Liquid, was mostly Luminosity sweeping the floor, and then the two Brazilian teams faced off to see which was the most powerful team in North America. Not a great day to be an America fan.

Ultimately Luminosity dominated the Grand Final and took home $10,000. It was nevertheless extremely exciting to watch!
Ultimately Luminosity dominated the Grand Final and took home $10,000. Despite the teams being lopsided, it was nevertheless extremely exciting to watch!

But to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t most excited about the CS:GO tournament, I wanted to participate in the Payday 2 one. Overkill was sponsoring a contest dedicated to speed-running the grueling “Slaughterhouse” heist on Death Wish, with the fastest team each day taking home $10,000 of their own. I got paired with a trio that needed a fourth player, but they admitted to me that none of them had played the game before, so needless to say we never even got past drilling open the safe.

My crew! What they lacked in forethought, they made up for with optimism!
My crew! What they lacked in forethought, they made up for with optimism!

Much more exciting was watching actual teams of veterans who hand-crafted their builds to acing the heist, especially since I’m a fan of watching high-level Payday play. They were on top of each objective before Bain could even say anything, with some particularly skilled tricks to keep the endless hordes of police officers at bay. The winning team on Sunday broke the world record at 10 minutes 20 seconds, and one girl on said team was using my personal favorite playstyle so I felt particularly vindicated.

The Payday booth took some time to find, hidden behind the Razr stage and the place where defeated CSGO teams signed autographs
The Payday booth took some time to find, hidden behind the Razr stage and the place where defeated CS:GO teams signed autographs.

I also got to chat with some Overkill employees, who were all super nice and we talked at length about our enjoyment of Payday and current events for the franchise. They weren’t allowed to tell me any secrets about the upcoming content due to NDAs, but I did get to meet Georgia, the voice actress for the newest heister Sydney, who comes out May 12th!

Sydney
Georgia was so friendly! She also has a long working relationship with Overkill, so she says she’ll likely be available for recording future dialogue for the character.

The last big thing I got to check out at DreamHack was the HTC Vive, which was on display near the CS:GO tournament and required reserving a slot. Luckily they had an opening for 2:00 and they allowed me to pen myself in if I promised to share this photograph on social media.

The Daily SPUF counts as social media, right?
The Daily SPUF counts as social media, right? We have a comment section!

And the Vive was incredible. There were two showcases I got to test out; the first dropped me onto the bow of a sunken ship, with fishes flitting around, the shadows of rays passing over me and a horrifyingly large whale who checked in just to freak me out. As someone with a fear of the ocean, the experience was more traumatic than thrilling, but that’s just a testament to how amazingly realistic the virtual reality was. The second game was a fast-paced arcade shooter taking place on a high-rise disc with a vaguely sci-fi city in the background. Using the Vive controllers, the player toggles between dual rayguns and handheld shields to destroy floating drones until their health runs out. Both showcases restricted the player to a very narrow 5ftx5ft square, a somewhat controversial design that’s been heavily marketed by Valve since it stands the system apart from the Oculus Rift, but the showcaser assured me that traditional sitting-down VR is still more than possible with a Vive. It’s currently priced at $799 and completely back-ordered, but those of you with a lotta cash should keep an eye out, because it’s pretty damn amazing to experience.

There was a huge portion of the con cordoned off for those who brought their computers to game against each other. Dreamhack originated as a LAN party and has not forgotten its roots.
There was a huge portion of the con cordoned off for those who brought their computers to game against each other. DreamHack originated as a LAN party and has not forgotten its roots.
And finally a shoutout to Wild Bill's Soda, where I bought a souvenir mug that I could refill for free all day!
And finally a shoutout to Wild Bill’s Soda, where I bought a metal souvenir mug that I could refill for free all day!

All in all I had a blast at DreamHack, and I never even visited the second floor, where the Hearthstone and Super Smash Bros events were being held. There was always so much to do on the first floor! I didn’t leave empty-handed either; Valve and Overkill were happy to let me take home all sorts of goodies. I gotta admit, the bundle of Dallas dollars is my personal favorite.

Precious loot! I dunno when I'm gonna attend another gaming convention, so I'm glad this one was so much fun!
Precious loot! I dunno when I’m gonna attend another gaming convention, so I’m glad this one was so much fun!

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