By Gareth Ogden posted Dec 16th 2011
Here's a question for you: what had 20,984 visitors, a 120Gbit internet connection (yes, Gigabit...), with 13,010 PCs connected to it, and the World's best professional gamers in one place? The answer, as I'm sure you guessed, is Dreamhack Winter 2011, the World's biggest LAN event, which took place last month in Jönköping, Sweden. Corsair was there in full force, showing our awesome new Vengeance K90 and K60 gaming keyboards and Vengeance M60 and M90 laser mice, and in this blog we're going to recap the event and what we got up to.
This was actually the first time that Corsair has had a major presence at a LAN event in Europe, and we elected to start with the biggest LAN in the World. As the saying goes, Go BIG, or go home! I've already mentioned some of the stats, but even these incredible numbers don't go half-way to conveying the scale of Dreamhack. It is, quite simply, an awesome spectacle. From the rows and rows of BYO (Bring Your Own) PC gaming seats, to the exhibitor booths (especially Corsair's J), to the Dream Arenas where the eSports finals get played out in front of live audiences, Dreamhack is immense. If you're a gamer, it's as close to heaven on Earth as you're likely to find. As long as you don't mind sleeping face-down on your keyboard, that is...
To call Dreamhack a LAN is actually doing it a disservice. It's like the Glastonbury of gaming, a full-bore digital festival, with gaming at its heart. In addition to the 10,000+ BYO PC gamers, there are professional gaming tournaments with tens of thousands of dollars of prize money up for grabs, live bands on the main stage, and a creative demo scene for independent graphic and music artists to show their skills to the Dreamhack audience. And, last but not least, is the DreamExpo, where visitors can get hands on with some of the best gear and games from the World's biggest gaming brands, including EA and Corsair, and even some of the world's biggest brands full-stop, such as Coca Cola. And for those who liked what they saw, there was the option to buy these products at the DreamStore, run by Webhallen. Dreamhack was actually the first place in the World that anyone could buy the new Vengeance keyboards and mice, and it was great to see so many happy customers seizing the opportunity to be the first people to equip themselves with Vengeance gaming gear.
Corsair's activities at Dreamhack Winter 2011 were split into two parts. On our booth in the DreamExpo, we had a glistening row of eight Corsair Dream PCs, skilfully built by Scan Computers International in the UK. Each was equipped with a Corsair Vengeance 1500 headset and either a Vengeance K60 FPS keyboard and M60 laser mouse, or Vengeance K90 MMO keyboard and M90 laser mouse, and set up with the latest games for visitors to play, including Battlefield 3, StarCraft 2, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Dota 2 and more.
These rigs were in use solidly for the full three days of the show (and the expo was open 12 hours a day, 10am-10pm!). At one point we even had a several rigs taken over by a group of friends who each installed League of Legends so they could play their own mini LAN. But, there was none more dedicated than our friend Filip, who loved our Dream PCs so much that he became a semi-permanent fixture, always sitting at the same machine with its K90 and M90 combo. If the Expo was open, he was there. So, at the end of the show, for being our most loyal customer, we gave Filip his favourite bit of kit — a Vengeance K90 MMO gaming keyboard.
For those who fancied a challenge, and the chance to win some top hardware, we also ran a 1on1 Counter-Strike shootout. Visitors were invited to throw down the gauntlet to Laura "LLo" Van Assche from BadgirlsClan, and the challenger with the highest score in each session (assuming they managed to beat her, of course) won a top prize. The shootout was extremely popular, and LLo played an incredible 263 matches over the course of the three days, losing very few in the process. Those skilful enough to win walked away with some top swag, including Vengeance 1500 headsets, Vengeance keyboards and Vengeance M60 mice.
More opportunities to win prizes came from our "Wheel of Fortune" prize wheel. The queues for the prize wheel would literally extend down the hall to the Star War: The Old Republic stand! The prizes ranged from a Corsair pen, all the way up to a Vengeance M60 mouse, with plenty of t-shirts and other goodies in-between. In fact, the t-shirts were one of the most popular prizes, along with our Vengeance hoodies. Also popular were our extremely rare and exclusive Dota2 BETA keycards. And this leads us on nicely to our other major event at Dreamhack Winter 2011 — the Corsair Vengeance Dota2 Championship.
The Corsair Vengeance Dota2 Championship was one of the key eSports events at Dreamhack, and was contested between 64 teams of five. Four top teams were invited to compete (Monkey Business, Fnatic, New French Order and BX3) with the rest having to secure a place through the BYOC tournament at Dreamhack. Excellent match commentary was provided on the live streams by renowned shoutcaster, TobiWanKenobi, and in total we had nearly 400,000 viewers on Twitch.tv during the course of the tournament. Some of those were watching on the Corsair booth, providing they could squeeze onto the seating area.
The Grand Final was between Fnatic and Wild Honey Badgers, a local Swedish team that had fought through the qualifiers to take their place in the final in the DreamArena Extreme, in front on an audience of 1,000 people. Wild Honey Badgers took the title in an exhilarating match, winning 50,000 SEK (around $7,200). I was on stage to announce the winners and present the cheques, which was a new experience for me. You can catch up on coverage of the tournament on sites such as GosuGamers, which covered it extensively.
As Dreamhack grew to a close on the third and final day, we decided to close the show in style with a huge competition and prize giveaway on our stage. To say we were mobbed (in a good way) is something of understatement, and it was amazing to see such enthusiasm, even if partly motivated by the prospect of some top prizes.
We loved our time at Dreamhack Winter 2011, and would like to thank everyone that stopped by the booth, and especially those who took advantage of our special offers in the DreamStore. It was a truly amazing event, and hopefully we'll be back for more next year!