posted by SohNata,
The first season of DreamLeague has completed, with se Alliance claiming victory alongside a nice $70,000 cheque. There were plenty of stories coming out of the event, and we take the time to look at some of those in closer detail.

Claiming their second Dreamhack tournament in a row, se Alliance's victory over Europe's elite was a warning shot to the competition ahead of ESL One and TI4. It was not just that they won, but how they did it - excelling with the trendy heroes of the 6.81 patch, while demonstrating panache and versatility with winning performances on under-used heroes like Sven, Silencer and Pugna. Capping it off was their devastating use of 'classic' Alliance heroes, with AdmiralBulldog delivering a 5-1 record with his reinvented Nature's Prophet and 3-0 on Lone Druid, while Akke's unbeaten record on Chen demonstrated how tough he is to beat - with a pivotal Aegis deny as the icing on the cake.

The grand final was the perfect execution of all those elements, with se Alliance using an astounding 21 different heroes across the series, with Akke, Loda and s4 all using different heroes in each game. The openness of the current meta is certainly a boon for a team who can draft anything - and win. It wasn’t just impressive drafting though, but excellent in-game decisions and individual skill were on show for all to see. The Bo5 finals against world Cloud9 showed us the classic Alliance reigniting their TI3-winning form. They won the first and last game efficiently and effectively, finding tiny advantages and getting everything out of them – whether it be the key Aegis deny in Game 5, or positioning themselves beautifully to waste Gyrocopter’s early BKB charges in Game 3, crucial moments like that helped them to secure the DreamLegue title.

Alliance were all smiles after winning a second consecutive DreamHack title.

The bottom line is that Alliance have made a statement to their rivals - they’re the reigning world champions and peaking at just the right time to defend their crown come July. The next challenge for them will be ESL One, where they will lock horns with Cloud9 again in their opening match. It will not be an easy game, with Cloud9 having put up a strong performance themselves and while they might not have been able to claim the top prize at DreamHack, they did take the Swedes to the limit in the grand finals, capping off a fruitful weekend’s work. Having eliminated both ru Team Empire and world Mousesports, they certainly made their mark in the event and seem to be picking up steam heading towards Frankfurt.We saw at MLG Columbus that C9 have what it takes to win, which combined with their decent form as of late, makes them a serious threat at both ESL and TI4.

Elsewhere, elimination from the competition at the first stage was a shock therapy for us Evil Geniuses, less than seven days after beating cn DK to win The Summit. With so many quality teams on the scene, there are no easy games in a LAN environment and EG were punished for their disappointing performance and a slow start, although suffering from the ill-effects of jetlag may have played a part in their early departure. Team Empire fans may be a little disappointed that they were unable to make to a third straight LAN final, but a top three placement is certainly creditable for a relatively new team (in terms of major LAN events) and there were signs that they can still recreate the plays that saw them challenge DK in the finals of Starladder. Mouz had an up and down weekend, highlighted by 2-0 sweeps of EG and Fnatic, and are sure to be disappointed at not making a deeper run after their flashy start. Fnatic continued to battle on with Era missing, but much like in the Summit found themselves out a lot earlier than they would have liked. A recent 3-0 sweep of Alliance in the D2CL will certainly give them a reason to be confident for ESL, though.

A combination of illness and jetlag hampered EG's efforts in Sweden.

From a fan's perspective, it's a reminder that we live in exciting times in professional Dota, with se Alliance, world Cloud9, cn DK, us Evil Geniuses, cn Invictus Gaming and ua Natus Vincere all winning major LAN events since November. Every event is wide open, especially in a patch where teams have a decent degree of movement to tailor drafts to their own particular playstyles. In every LAN feels like anybody can win and the old saying 'you're only as good as your last game' is truer than ever.

It all sets the stage for what should be an incredible ESL One. All of the DreamLeague participants bar Empire will be fighting it out for over $200,000 prize pool, but with some key additions: TI3 runners-up ua Natus Vincere will join the fray with both cn Invictus Gaming and cn Vici Gaming looking to assert eastern dominance in the final LAN event before TI4. There are plenty of legitimate contenders to the crown, with the single elimination format allowing no second chances. Every single game will matter immensely to the teams, which promises to deliver great games from the elite of professional Dota. We’ll have staff both online and at the event to keep you covered with live reports and reactions from Frankfurt – don’t you dare miss it.

This article was written by uk Jamie Donovan, a joinDOTA writer.SohNata first experienced Dota during the TI3 finals and has been hooked ever since. A massive fan of European Dota, he's probably one of the people with more tickets than wins.Location: Warwickshire, UKFollow him on @SohNata.