DreamHack Masters event kicks off North American tour that has Denver in its crosshairs


Posted Tue, Mar 7, 2017

Ninjas in Pyjamas managers (left to right) Emil ‘HeatoN’ Christensen, Johan Wältare, Laura Rojas, and Netgear representative Mikael Axelsson watch Ninjas in Pyjamas play Cloud 9 in the group stage of DreamHack Masters on Feb. 15 in Las Vegas. Ninjas in Pyjamas lost the match to Cloud 9 16-14, but managed to qualify out of the group stage in the tournament. [Photo by Matthew Stefanski]

LAS VEGAS – Vegas has been home to some of the best head-to-head sports matchups in history; Tyson vs. Holyfield, McGregor vs. Diaz, and now Virtus Pro vs. Astralis. That last one may boggle your mind, but in the world of eSports and Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), this is one of the more exciting matchups a fan could hope to see.

DreamHack Masters, a premiere, Sweden-based eSports tournament series, descended upon Las Vegas from Feb. 15-19, 2017, pitting the top 16 teams in the world against each other for a prize pool of $450,000. This event marked the first time the Masters-level tournament has come to North American, the second time the DreamHack video game festival visited the United States, and the third time a North American venue has hosted the prestigious event since 1994.

Cloud 9 player Jake ‘Stewie2K’ Yip focuses on his screen during a match against Ninjas in Pyjamas in the group stage of Dreamhack Masters on Feb. 15 in Las Vegas. Cloud 9 beat Ninjas in Pyjamas 16-14, but failed to qualify out of the group stage of the tournament. [Photo by Matthew Stefanski.]

The four-day CS:GO tournament hosted teams and players from countries such as the United States, Canada, England, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, and even China, all vying for a chance to take home the $200,000 first place finish and the Master’s cup. Fans from around the world flocked to Las Vegas to cheer for their home country’s teams and for the hopes of meeting some of the players that they hold at a level equivalent to what a soccer fan would hold Christiano Ronaldo.

DreamHack Masters Las Vegas kicked off a five-event tour in North America, spanning across the entire 2017 calendar year, and visiting cities such as Austin, Texas, Atlanta, Georgia, Montreal, Canada, and Denver. DreamHack is known as the world’s largest digital festival, and holds the official world record as the largest LAN (Local Area Network) party.

Nathalie Pompeii, Rafael David, Camila Pompeii, and Nuno Miranda (left to right) all watch nervously as SK Gaming plays against Cloud 9 in the group stage of DreamHack Masters on Feb. 16 in Las Vegas. SK Gaming won the match 16-6 and went on to place 2nd in the tournament. [Photo by Matthew Stefanski]

DreamHack events consist of a LAN, an Expo of some of the largest and most cutting-edge companies in gaming hardware, software and peripherals, concerts, parties, and of course, eSports. The DreamHack Masters is a premiere eSports event, pitting the top invited and qualified CS:GO teams in competition that is almost as big as a major championship event.

One of the most interesting aspects of DreamHack being hosted in Las Vegas is that many players in the tournament are under the age of 21. “Obviously I can’t experience things like gambling and drinks and stuff,” said Michael ‘Uber’ Stappels, a 20-year-old player for the pro team CompLexity, “but the lifestyle is pretty cool, seeing the party lifestyle … just really happy we’re here competing.”

CompLexity is a Los Angeles-based organization, but their CS:GO team resides in Aurora, Colorado. It’s not necessarily a love for the mountains or the Broncos, either, but instead a strategic advantage. “It’s in central America, and servers are based in central America about 90 percent of the time, and we get a great ping advantage,” Stappels said, “it’s not like playing on LAN at all, but it’s as close as you can get.”

SK Gaming plays against North on the main stage during the semi-finals of DreamHack Masters on Feb. 19 in Las Vegas. SK Gaming won their semi-final match, but lost to Virtus Pro in the finals. [Photo by Matthew Stefanski.]

The ping advantage Stappels speaks of is the ‘latency’ between the server and the player’s computer. The lower the ‘ping’ number, the faster the server and player communicate. This means that if a player has a low ‘ping’ number, their actions occur at a higher priority than that of someone with a higher ‘ping’ number.

Stappels and CompLexity look forward to the October DreamHack event in Denver. “I feel like it’s (more of) North America’s home turf,” said Stappels of the Denver event. “If there is a Counter Strike event, we’d have to qualify, obviously, we probably wouldn’t get an invite, but that wouldn’t stop us, definitely not.”

DreamHack Denver will be the fourth DreamHack event in the United States. Hosted October 20-22 at the National Western Complex, DreamHack Denver is confirmed to be host to the Halo Championship Series North American Fall Finals and is confirmed as a stop on the world Hearthstone Grand Prix. There has yet to be a CS:GO professional tournament announced.

Ticket prices for DreamHack Denver start at $35 and are available at https://denver.dreamhack.com/17/tickets.

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About Matthew Stefanski

Matthew Stefanski is a Denver-area writer and journalist

View all posts by Matthew Stefanski

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