Six of the world’s best Dota 2 teams are descending on the sleepy town of Jönköping, Sweden this weekend. Part of DreamHack Summer, the world’s largest gaming festival, the tournament is the culmination three months of league play in the Swedish organized DreamLeague. At stake? $200,000.
Both the summer and winter DreamHack festivals are no strangers to fantastic Dota tournaments. Jönköping’s Elmia convention center has witnessed moments that fans of competitive Dota will forever remember. Moments like No Tide Hunter’s incredible level one Roshan bait and Clinton “Fear” Loomis’ one-hitter-quitter versus what was then-considered an unbeatable-Natus Vincere lineup are still among the game’s most lauded plays.
The DreamLeague finals format is unique. The competitors—the six top teams from the league—are split into two brackets. The first and second place teams from the regular season move directly into a double elimination finals bracket, while the fourth through sixth will have to claw their way through a playoff bracket first.
The event also takes place in the shadow of Valve’s leviathan, the International. The developer’s annual tournament boasts a $9.4 million (and growing) prize pool, making it the largest esport tournament of all time and putting it on par with some of the largest traditional sporting events. All of the teams competing this weekend in Sweden will also play at the International, making the DreamLeague finals a small preview of what fans can expect to see in July.
For many watching the DreamLeague event, one of the most exciting matches takes place in the first round of the seeding bracket when Evil Geniuses will play their sister team—and last year’s International winners—Alliance.
The North American Evil Geniuses enter the event with the most momentum. Though the squad is fresh off a win at The Summit last weekend, it would be a mistake to consider them a favorite.
When you juxtapose the teams’ middle lane players and their carries, the match becomes a battle between the old guard and the new. Evil Geniuses’ spry, 17-year-old middle lane player Artour “Arteezy” Babaev will face off against International 3 winner Gustav “s4” Magnusson, whom many say is responsible for the greatest Dota 2 play of all time. If Babaev, who has won a staggering 75 percent of the offline events he has attended, is a prodigy then Gustav is a maestro. The middle lane, which most times will played one versus one, will be a duel between two of the best players to ever play the position.
@Arteezy Please win a lan before u talk
— Jonathan Berg (@LodaBerg) August 3, 2013
The two teams’ carries and their stories play out similarly. Evil Geniuses’ newest player, Mason “mason” Venne, replaced well respected, Dota legend Clinton “Fear” Loomis just last month. In Sweden he will go toe-to-toe with another iconic and seasoned Dota player, Jonathan “Loda” Berg. This could be quite the challenge for Venne, who just months ago said that he had no interest in playing professional Dota. Venne, a stranger to bright lights and the enthusiasm of a Scandinavian crowd, will be expected to go blow for blow with a Berg, a professional for more than half a decade.
In a 2008 interview then teammate, and now member of Alliance’s managing staff, Jacob “Maelk” Toft-Andersen described Loda’s prowess on the battlefield: “Its Loda’s world, we’re just lucky to live in it.”
Despite Venne’s win The Summit last week, this will be his first big LAN with a crowd. Berg, a Swede, already has a DreamHack title to his name, and knows that the home crowd will be on his side.
Matches for the DreamLeague finals begin on Saturday, June 14th and can be watched on the DreamLeague Twitch channel.