A Review of ESL One Birmingham 2024 by a League of Legends Fan

ESL One Birmingham 2024 stage photo
Last month Esports News UK editor and League of Legends faithful Dom Sacco went along to Dota 2 event ESL One Birmingham 2024 as it returned after five years. But what was it like being a fish out of water, was the Dota community welcoming to a fan of a rival MOBA, and would he go again?

As a follower of League of Legends since Season 3, I’ve played enough solo queue to make me lose my mind, and developed deep connections with the UK community.

So you’ll have to forgive me when I say I trekked up to Resorts World Arena with mixed feelings and expectations.

I was intrigued to witness my first ever big Dota 2 esports event in person, sure, but didn’t have that same excitement I felt attending MSI London last year. However, I also didn’t feel the same pressure covering a game that isn’t my core expertise. I had less to lose, and had writer Wade White alongside me with his Dota knowledge. Because of that, I was able to let my (imaginary) hair down.

First impressions were good. I was impressed with the acoustics and setup in the venue:

The Dota fans seemed pretty chilled out in the queue to get in, as 18,000 packed into the venue across the weekend.

This relaxed vibe and a sense of humour underpinned the event. Venue staff were cheery, and the ESL One Birmingham broadcast talent were having a laugh with their silly UK-inspired cosplay, which put a smile on my face. Talent like Jenkins and Slacks were top notch.

ESL had fun with it all, as seen with how they introduced OG and the event’s sole UK player, Ari:

GGBET MPU blast gif - June July 2024

There were memes about Lidl and Greggs at ESL One Birmingham.

I loved the event’s Brewmaster drinking theme too.

ESL really captured the UK spirit with this, and the camera regularly cut to shots of fans downing pints.

I was surprised to see actual tattoo artists in the foyer, with fans able to get permanent and temporary ink.

We wouldn’t see the drinking stuff and tattoos from a Riot event. But saying that, contacts did tell me they didn’t really see the drinking focus at other ESL Dota events, like ones in Germany and Stockholm, where they don’t even allow alcohol in the seating areas.

On top of this, during the press evening at the end of day one, top Dota talent Sheever took the time to hang out with us and properly catch up.

Again, it’s probably me just being weird, but in League I sometimes still get nervous around the big names for some reason. I didn’t really have that at this event.

Was I warming to ESL One Birmingham?

It was certainly strange for me as a League of Legends fan attending an event for a rival MOBA game.

Turns out I had packed my League of Legends MSI hoody by chance. I initially thought I’d leave it in the hotel, then I thought it might be fun to wind up some of the Dota community.

But no one really cared.

So I turned up the annoyance a notch during the Falcons vs OG match.

Genuinely, all of these Dota 2 Heroes look like League champions to me.

Despite my jabs, the Dota 2 community was extremely welcoming and the atmosphere was solid.

I wasn’t impressed with the food options at Resorts World Arena – there was a selection of overpriced and under-sized burgers, chips and pizzas, and not much else, but luckily there’s a bunch of other places to eat outside the venue.

Now, onto the matches themselves. With some games going on as long as 75 minutes at ESL One Birmingham, that’s too long for me.

I prefer the immediacy of League, and games that are often straight stomps. I feel like there’s a greater chance for games to go late and wildly swing in Dota, and I can’t quite make my mind up as to whether that’s a good thing.

On-site tattoos. Memes about Lidl and Greggs. The camera focusing on fans downing pints. You wouldn’t get this from a Riot event.

It still feels more impactful to me when a kill is made in LoL, whereas in Dota, a kill doesn’t quite have the same oomph to it.

I also thought it was weird to see all those stick items players buy at the start of matches. Not gonna lie, I didn’t have a good understanding of heroes and items, but I did like how the items were shown above the players on stage.

There were nice stage effects, with the mega creeps running across the bottom of the stage area and the lighting changed depending on points in the game.

I loved the opening of the grand finals with the live orchestra and the Brewmaster (who sounds very much like Braum from League of Legends)!

    It was also nice to know there were other League fans there, infiltrating the Dota event:

    Overall, ESL One Birmingham exceeded my expectations. The crowd, the energy and the setup was impressive, and Dota 2 has turned my head. I’m certainly more open to attending events in the future, should they come back to the UK.

    So, am I convert to Dota 2? Will I switch from League?

    Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    The LoL Worlds 2024 grand finals take place at the O2 later this year, so let’s see who wins on the atmosphere front then!

    More ESL One Birmingham 2024 articles, including our top ten moments, interviews and other content

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