As a long-standing element of all ESL One festivals, the cosplay competition has been a major component of its programming, and a big draw for participants looking to win cash prizes and a little recognition. 

Though ESL One Los Angeles’s cosplay competition, along with what would have been the first major ‘Dota’ tournament in the City of Angels, has been delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis, we still sat down with its organizer and main judge to garner some general tips and tricks for cosplayers as they ready their alter egos for when the event’s rescheduled. ESL One is working tirelessly to “determine a new time and location for the major.”

As the Event Marketing Manager for ESL One, and a recognized cosplayer herself, Carolin "Aonir" Hanisch not only has an inside track into what will be the ESL One Los Angeles 2020 Cosplay Competition’s judging criteria, she knows what it takes to craft a standout outfit.

As perhaps the most lucrative game in esports, ‘Dota 2’ can certainly draw a crowd, and as a result, the competition for the cosplay event will be stiff. Fortunately, featuring a roster of 117 heroes, ‘Dota 2’ offers would-be dresser-uppers an endless cast of characters to choose from. 

Given that participants now have more time on their hands to construct a winning outfit, they’ll want to read Carolin’s guidance on how to achieve cosplaying success.

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What qualities have defined past ESL One cosplay winners? Has there been a recipe for success? And, if so, what components make up that recipe?

All past winners looked really, really different: different heroes, different sets. There is definitely no recipe for success—that would make things too easy!

 

What's the difference between a good cosplay and a great one?

In the end, it is all about the details: How clean are the seams (outside and inside of the costume)? Are all parts complete, or are small details missing? Are the proportions correct? And, how is the paint job on the weapons and armor?

 

The judging criteria for the ESL One Los Angeles 2020 Cosplay Competition are: Creativity, materials used, stitching, fit, attention to details, overall complexity level, and functionality of the costume, likeness to the hero, quality of craftsmanship for each part of the costume. Are they all weighed equally?

At our competition, we don't have a point system – each judge is just making notes about the different criteria. For example, I look into all of them and make simple notes with a '+' for really good one elements, or a '-' for parts that could need improvement.

 

As a cosplayer yourself, what are some ways in which the ESL 2020 cosplay competition might stand out or differ from other competitions for cosplayers?

There is no other cosplay contest that is as well organized as ours. Cosplayers will be getting an email with all the pertinent details a couple of days prior to the event with everything they need to know. 

They'll also receive free entry (with premium-area access) for themselves and their helper, access to changing rooms, water and snacks, and they can always approach any of the judges to get detailed feedback on their costume.

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What tips do you have for aspiring or first-time cosplayers? 

The most important one: have fun! With each cosplay, you will learn something new, and all the cosplayers are super nice and helpful. Don't be scared and just try it. 

It is a great experience and the judges can definitely help with detailed feedback.

 

Might joining the ESL One Cosplayer Facebook Group give contestants a competitive advantage?

Not at all. It is more to connect with other cosplayers coming to our events and possibly the fastest way to get answers. Cosplayers can help each other, or share progress about their cosplay—some become friends even before meeting at an event. Also, all event photos will be shared in that group.

 

This competition will be a craftsmanship competition. That is, performances will not factor into the judging process. Why is this the case?

Our stage time is very limited and I would want the cosplayers to get the best experience possible when I would run a contest with a performance. 

The other reason is that especially first-timers or inexperienced cosplayers are very afraid of performances in front of a crowd and I wanted to ensure an easy entry for everyone.

 

Any 'Dota 2' characters you're looking forward to seeing in cosplay form?

I'm always excited to see not-so-common heroes or sets! I would love to see an Ursa or Tusk once.

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