Published on April 29th, 2024 | by Daniel

DreamHack Melbourne at Rod Laver Arena 2024!

Olympic Park and Rod Laver Arena erupted with activity this weekend of the 26th to 28th of April. DreamHack returned for its third year at the sports and entertainment park in the heart of Melbourne city. Gamers and Cosplayers from all walks of life, from all over the world, come to celebrate together as a community. Famous around the world, for it’s e-sports leagues and BYO LAN gaming. DreamHack has become a haven for professional streamers and gamers alike to mingle with the gaming community as a whole and show love and support for all the people of this wonderful community we’re all a part of.

I was unable to attend the previous year and I vowed not to make the same mistake this year. Now with my first taste of DreamHack under my belt, here’s my take on the big event!

Over the course of the weekend, one thing became very clear. DreamHack is far bigger than I expected, after many years attending conventions and seeing many of them come and go as the tides changed. Dreamhack not only started off with a bang for its first year, but it’s maintained the same momentum. While others started off small, either because they were unsure as to what reception they would get, or because the budget or steps to get started were more difficult than anticipated. DreamHack at least to me, has come out swinging in a big way.

DreamHack has, in a single weekend, become my second favourite convention. Earning itself a top marks and leaving me excited for what’s on the cards for next year.

The choice of using Rod Laver arena and parts of Olympic Park, may initially seem like an odd choice for a convention. But they make it work in an interesting way. Artist Alley, really is like an alley, unlike other conventions where it’s a series of aisles. Wrapping around the outside of both Rod Laver and Margaret Court arenas. Making use of the Centerpiece at Melbourne Olympic Park for panels, free play and stream studios was a good choice. And dedicating Margaret Court arena for the e-sports league means that the e-sports crowd has its own space completely to themselves. And that’s the best thing about the layout, everything has their own space, in a way that links back onto the next area.

Although DreamHack specialises in streaming and esports, there’s so much for patrons to see and do. There’s something for everyone, they even had arcade games dotted around the arena, that were free to play for everyone. The atmosphere was really good, the layout directed patrons in circles. Meaning traffic flowed incredibly well and most areas, whilst the venue saw a lot of traffic over the busy weekend. I had no issues moving around, even when the queue for the Trash Taste and Hololive events started to fill, foot traffic maintained a steady flow. That’s something that even the PAX expo struggles to manage sometimes. I was very impressed with how well organised the event was and all the volunteers did an insane job. DreamHack has made an incredible impression on me and easily takes the second spot on my list of top conventions. I already can’t wait for the next one!

Before the Trash Taste boys came out on stage, there was an opening ceremony. With banging tunes, clips from classic games and footage from other DreamHack events it was a really cool set piece to open before the main event. It featured a statement by the transport and events minister which although most people would find a little cringe. I thought it was cool that they’re getting involved and taking notice that gaming isn’t just a thing we all do in our bedrooms, screaming profanities at people online. It’s a whole community and we’re being recognised for it and that’s a cool thing for all of us gamers.

Trash Taste

Dreamhack immediately scored points with me before it even started, with special guests Trash Taste, who attended last year. I wanted to attend the event last year almost entirely to get to see the Trash Taste boys finally in Australia. For those who don’t know, Trash Taste is a podcast that mostly is about anime and Japanese pop-culture but over the years has expanded into other genres and live tours. The show consists of Joey (the Anime Man), Garnt (Gigguk) and Connor (CDawgVA) discussing various topics about anime and more. I personally follow both Connor and Joey’s standalone YouTube channels, as I find them both quite funny but as a group, they’re even better. Reviving the feeling of being in high school with your best friends talking about each other’s interests. Their banter and chemistry together on camera is very good and it’s literally just like watching a bunch of friends talk smack to each other. Knowing they were coming back this year as well sealed the deal for me in terms of making sure I needed to get myself a ticket or two.

Trash Taste upgrade passes, were unfortunately sold out very quickly. Luckily enough, however, our passes gave us access to the general admission seats. Seats that were first in best dressed. It wasn’t long after our arrival that these seats filled up to the brim. It’s clear that these boys have a large following down under and it’s not hard to see why. Joey, is Australian born, his videos range from topics on anime, to controversial topics and hot takes about Japan. Connor, streams on twitch, sometimes it’s games, other times he’s doing IRL streams and even charity events to raise money for Autoimmune Disease, a condition close to his heart. Garnt is a YouTuber with deep knowledge of the anime industry. Together the make a strong comedic trio, with over nine million subscribers between them (let’s be real they probably share a lot of the same viewers but that’s still one heck of an achievement).

The show basically pit each member against each other and the venue crowd to basically see who’s better; Connor, Garnt, Joey, or us the crowd. Joey was first up as it was his home crowd and his game pit Garnt and Connor against us to see how much we all know about niche aspects of Australia. And in dominating fashion and a near perfect score of 6/7 . The Aussie crowd took the first win. Connor’s game was all about defending each other’s bad takes on random topics, one of the two other hosts would argue in defence of the opinion and the other would argue against it. And Garnt’s was all about a series of questions the other boys had to guess an answer and hope it was one of the top five answers given by the crowd (or anyone who used the QR code to take part). All in all, it was great to see the Trash Taste boys, entirely well worth the long wait from missing last year’s. A two hour show full of honest comedy, the likes you’ll find in any regular comedy show, in fact, I’ll go one better and say the boys have a banter that goes beyond. Easily my highlight of the Friday.

DreamHack x Hololive Concert

2024 marks the first time that Hololive, a series of vtubers, had come together to perform a concert in Australia. With members; Hakos Baelz, Mori Calliope, Kureiji Ollie, Houshou Marine, Tokoyami Towa, Pavolia Reine. Baelz is originally from Australia, and is has always been a dream of hers to perform for her home crowd. So this was a pretty special concert for her. The concert itself is 2D, similar to those performed by Hatsune Miku and others like her. Their character models are portrayed on screen, with choreographed sets pre-recorded for the concert. But segments in between where Baelz and Mori addressed the crowd live, at one point Bae was overwhelmed with emotion that she finally achieved her dream of performing to her home crowd. Even causing Mori to get a little emotional for her friend and fellow vtuber.

The songs were really good, the girls are all incredibly talented. Able to sing and dance, it must take a special skill to be able to dance for virtual youtubing. So mad respect for them to be able to perform at a level that befits professional performers. The best thing about them is that despite the fact they use virtual avatars to appear in public and in videos. They’re very natural, very much themselves and full of personality, charm and flair. Every one of them has a different identity and a unique charm and all have a strong fan presence here too.

The set was a little shorter than I thought it would be, starting about five minutes late and ending about fifteen minutes early. But I’m not sure how hard it is to set up a concert like this. As the songs are pre-recorded, they simply play like any video would. Unlike a live performance where songs can be extended with extra vocals or riling up the crowd. So I think that contributed to the shorter run time than expected. As it was effectively a live stream with elements of recorded songs, I also don’t think it was a easy thing to call for an encore either. All it all, it was crazy fun, tons of people in the crowd, including myself and my partner had pen-lights in hand and in true anime concert fashion, lit up the event hall in colours matching the performers on screen. Changing between songs to match their favourite of the group performing. My partner was having the time of her life, she’s a big fan of Hololive and was over the moon, just being able to attend the concert for the first time. My highlight for the Saturday night and hers for, undoubtedly the whole weekend.

Artist Alley

Artist Alley returns yet again, a true staple of conventions and DreamHack was no different. The layout for artist alley at DreamHack was probably the single greatest layout I’ve seen at any of the conventions I’ve been to over the years. Curling around the outside of Rod Laver and Margaret Court arenas, lining the walls in a nice even spread. Giving plenty of room for both artist booths and patrons to walk around and between each one. I’d even go far enough to say that it featured the largest number of artists as well. With PAX having a larger focus on upcoming game releases and indie developer showcases, artist alley takes a back seat there. Dreamhack easily had much better organisation of the alley.

With stalls packed with arts and crafts for all different styles and genres of pop-culture. From Anime, to games, Dungeons and Dragons. You name it, artist alley had it. Stalls selling handmade jewellery, cosplay craft, keyrings, lanyards and stickers. From full A1 sized artworks to small and cute A5 postcard size pieces. Artist Alley is still probably my overall highlight of these events. There’s nothing like talking to artists, getting to know them and their craft. Being able to support that craft and creativity and seeing them at future conventions to learn what new projects they’ve been working on.

Of course, I bought several pieces over the weekend. And spent a lot more than I think I expected to. Such is the quality of art at these events. If you haven’t checked out the artist alleys at your local conventions. Please do, you’ll be surprised by what you find! And even if you don’t buy anything personally, you may know someone that would so always grab a card if you strike up a conversation with an artist to give them support and spread the love of art!


Theren’t as many panels going on compared to something like PAX, but still probably more than say something like Supanova. Probably the right amount of panels for an event like DreamHack. There was even a panel of Aussie FFXIV streamers, some that I personally follow as well. So it was great to see them getting more exposure as well. As an relatively newbie streamer myself it’s my hope that I’ll be able to come out of my shell a bit more and interact with these streamers that seems so much larger than life in the eyes of someone as fresh faced to streaming as myself.

There were panels about creator workshops, discussing ways for people new to cosplay to get better at the craft. And even one about inclusion for all genders, sexes and especially indigenous peoples. With so many different panels there was a little something for everyone and situated in two locations; the main stage for the bigger topics and guests. And in the Centerpiece where it had a very cozy and relaxed atmosphere, meant that if you just wanted to relax with a panel and some comfy vibes after touring the crowded spaces. That was absolutely something you could do!

LARP (Live Action Role Play)

What surprised me, was that they even featured a LARP zone. For anyone unfamiliar, LARP or Live Action Role Play, is in short, Dungeons and Dragons, acted out in real life. People involved all dress up in outfits befitting a character, most make their own outfits. All of them have props; swords, shields, axes and other weapons. They had a space set out for them to show people what LARP is all about. Do some displays, act out scenes and get the attendees in on some of the action. As someone who plays Dungeons and Dragons, I’ve always been curious to try LARP for myself. I mean, quite a lot of us can all admit we played pretend like that ourselves when we were kids. Picking up sticks as swords or guns, twigs for wands and branches for broomsticks. Hurling imaginary magics at each other, picturing an epic battle as though we were right in the heart of the battle.

It was really interesting also to learn about some of the skills these people learned as a result of LARP. Some were introverted and came out of their shell to be a lot more social, others learned more practical skills like sewing and crafting their own clothes, armor and weapons. Others learned leadership skills, being able to lead a “party” of skilled warriors and magic users. But most of all, they found a place to have fun and meet new people, creating lasting friendships and endless journeys together. And that’s an amazing feat no matter how you look at it.


What convention is complete without a little freeplay? DreamHack is the only convention that also allows you to BYOC; bring your own computer. To set up and play with people using what some of us older gamers used to call. LAN parties. LAN parties where parties we gamers held at one another’s house where we all brought our consoles or PCs to one house. Set them up with cables between them, all in the name of playing games together. Back then, the internet was in its infancy. But consoles could connect to one another without the need for the internet and as long as each console had a copy of the game you could play with four or more people.

Time changed and things like Xbox Live became a thing and slowly the age of LAN began to die down. Many of us held fond memories and sometime relive those days of old. Dusting off the old LAN cables and getting your mates over with some bad food, soft drinks became beers (for some). Ye olde slurs would come out from the closet and we’d feel like kids again. It was great to see a space like that at DreamHack and it had a surprising number of computers that people brought in! There was no way I would be able to lug around my monstrous PC, so mad respect to those who did.


Lastly, but certainly not least, Cosplay. You cannot attend a single one of these events and not see tons of amazing cosplay. Professional, casual, beginner, all skill levels were on display all throughout the arena over the course of the weekend. Of course, cosplay wasn’t the only unique form of clothes worn at the event. There was plenty of fancy dresses, some in styles from older times, there were even several examples of Lolita fashion too. Seeing all the different styles of clothes worn all over the weekend, some of the detail in these outfits, cosplay and crafted pop-culture outfits alike.

Of course with cosplay, you know there’s gonna be competition and DreamHack is no different. In fact, this is probably the largest, or second largest cosplay competition I think I’ve attended. PAX often features the Australian leg of the Crown Central Cosplay Championship. But until attending DreamHack I didn’t even know we had other large cosplay competitions in Melbourne! DreamHack played host to its own DreamHack Australia Cosplay Championship, as well as the worldwide Extreme Cosplay Gathering.

The former is local to Australia, with a focus more on the crafting one one’s own cosplay. Prizes awarded to two different categories; Journeyman, a category for beginners and up and coming cosplay crafters. Prizes for the top three and a special prize gifted out to an up and coming crafter. And Artisan, a category for the more experienced crafters to show off their skills and win some serious cash.

The latter is a worldwide Cosplay Championship with finals in Paris later this year. This year marks the first time the ECG qualifiers have ever been held in Australia! The level of talent in this competition was insane. Every single one of the entrants deserves absolute praise for their skill and talent in their crafts. Some are makeup artists, others are prop makers. All have honed their craft, competing in multiple cosplay championships. These events are always a huge highlight because I love to see the talent that many of these skilled crafters have and the sheer creativity they must have to create such amazing works of art.


Alas, all good things must come to an end. And sadly, the event did just that. DreamHack has left a lasting impression on me, in just a single weekend it has gone from a convention I was merely considering to attend. To a must see convention that anyone would be unfortunate to miss out on. From arcade games, to e-sports. From cosplay to artist alley. From panels to community meetups. From live shows to concerts. DreamHack really has something for everyone and I already can’t wait to see what’s coming next year.

I have to give a shout out to a few things also, these topics didn’t really fit in with any of the other categories so here they are. Massive shout out to @Jadeabella for a wicked DJ setlist right before the Hololive concert. Her music had the crowd pumped up and ready for the Hololive gals and it goes without saying that she made for one hell of an opening act. Of course, this whole event couldn’t be run without the DreamHack volunteers. These guys are the backbone of the entire operations and without them, the event would surely not have run at all. Lastly a special thanks to PowerUp PR  for hosting myself and Impulse Gamer, without them we would never have been able to attend at all.

I wanted to close off in saying that I’m really grateful events like these exist. It really means a lot to people like me who grew up liking different things than most “normal” people did. It makes me so happy to see our community growing everyday, accepting people from all walks of life. I know events like these don’t come cheap. They’re expensive to host, expensive to run, take a lot of man-power to set up, maintain and tear down. From us gamers to you, we appreciate the recognition and I’m excited to see what DreamHack has in store for us in 2025!

Photo credits to Nelson Qiu and ESL Photographers: Caleb Smith, Michael Quelch, Sarah Cooper and Caitlin Middleton


About the Author

Hi I'm Dan! 32 and Non-Binary. When I'm not writing reviews. I like to get deeply immersed in the lore of an mmo or rpg, cruise the forest or coastal roads of Victoria, watch anime, read manga, build model kits and do a bit of sketching on the side.

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