Photo Essay: Where Esports Fandom and Cosplay Collide
BlizzCon is a unique opportunity to see all types of Blizzard fans come together under one big roof. Two strains of fandom, that of cosplay and esports, don’t seem like they would overlap: one is fanciful and creative, the other dead-serious and competitive. But as we found out roving the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, many cosplayers are big esports fans, and some even use esports to inspire them creatively! Let’s meet a few.
All the way from Ecuador, Estefy Valdivieso spent a whole year crafting her Demon Hunter costume—when she wasn’t following her favorite Heroes Global Championship teams, that is. “I watch esports whenever I can!” she said. “Every time I go to a tournament from Heroes [of the Storm] and Overwatch, I want to do this and be that character!” She was excited to support her favorite roster, Team Dignitas, this weekend in the HGC Finals.
Cosplayer Ana Paulina, as D.Va, traveled from Mexico City to her first BlizzCon this year. She thinks it’s amazing that a video game can inspire as much focus and passion as she sees on display in esports, and she tries to translate that energy into her cosplay.
Pictured above is Darshelle Stevens as D.Va the Destroyer, a new skin for Heroes of the Storm, with Team Freedom’s Phillipe ‘Nazmas’ Laberge, who is considered by many to be the best D.Va player in the world.
Jackie Craft came to BlizzCon as a female Varian, and has long been a fan of World of Warcraft Arena. Lately she's really into competitive Overwatch, which made it all the more awesome for her to meet Adam 'Adam' Eckel, from the Overwatch World Cup's Team USA. Adam said he really appreciates it when he sees fans cosplay. "I think it’s a really cool thing to do," he said. "It shows your support for the game. As a player, I really respect all the fans and all the support you can get."
Some cosplayers feel inspired by watching off-meta heroes be played in tournament settings. Silvio Wong as McCree said, “I like seeing characters that are unusual picks. If I see someone switch to McCree after they played a different character the whole round, I think that’s pretty cool and that inspires me.” Silvio’s cosplay buddy, Dillian Lang as Genji, has a cousin who plays for the World of Warcraft Arena team Panda Global, and he’s here to support him during the World Championships.
It took Kendra Lindsey approximately 500 hours to craft her World of Warcraft/Mercy mashup costume, and she watched Overwatch Contenders while she was working on it. "There's a lot of competition going on [in esports] and they put a lot of hard work into their skills and teamwork," Lindsey said. "It really helps me to think about how much work can I put into my work to show my love for the game."
Dani Victoria, pictured above in her Sylvanas/D.Va remix ensemble, appreciates how esports—just like cosplay—brings a community together! "My favorite player is [Dallas Fuel DPS player] Seagull," she said. "I love watching him play at such a high level and I'm very excited to see him play in the Overwatch League."
Jennifer Brooks, cosplaying as a Priest from World of Warcraft, often has esports on in the background while she crafts her cosplays. She says that it’s “the community, the excitement, and the effort you see on screen” that inspires her while she creates her costume. At BlizzCon, Jennifer was looking forward to watching the Arena World Championships and cheering for whoever’s winning. ;-)
All photos by Margaret Lee