What is the "Crown Championships of Cosplay"?
It is a relatively new competition which is aiming to be a very prestigious contest featuring winners from other competitions across America and the rest of the world. Since it's only the second year running, it's not quite there yet (this year there was only one "Eastern Champion" present - the winner from NYCC), but they seem to be quickly gaining traction and attention - even the Chicago Tribune featured photos from the contest! Entrants applied for the contest ahead of time online so all the costumes were pre-judged based on photos and descriptions before being accepted for the contest. Judging for the awards was based on backstage craftsmanship judging and posing on stage - no skits, solo entries only, no music. All the contestants were divided by source material* and awarded a 1st-2nd-3rd winner from each category, with an overall 1st (crown)-2nd-3rd awarded from among each of the first place winners (and large cash prizes on the line). In theory, the first place winners from the other contests are also in the running for the "Crown Champion" grand prize, but this year there was just the one returning winner from NYCC.
Here are the 2015 entrants, a really talented group of people!
So how did that go?
My day started very early (considering I was on vacation) - I had to get up at 7:30 am to start getting ready. I've streamlined my Izabel makeup process each time I have done it, but even then, it took a little over an hour and a half to put on the whole costume. I was ready on time though, since we were supposed to be at the convention and ready for judging by 10:00 am. As an aside, terror is going to judging wearing water-based makeup in the rain O_O Ragz and I were assigned judging times shortly after 11:00, so we just waited around the holding room instead of trying to do anything in the meantime. We met and chatted with Star Eater for a while since she's a fan of Saga, asked Josephiroth about the size of his sword (heh heh), and spent a little time in the hallway talking to Lady Thor, Goddess of Thunder and Rattle and Burn and of Oneiromantic Designs, but I was too distracted and brain-dead for proper socializing.
The judging itself went well, I think. There's not a whole lot of advanced techniques or labour-intensive work on Izabel, but they did say "oh, that's a good idea" a couple of times while explaining what I did and why I made some decisions. So I left feeling pretty good that even if they weren't impressed, the industry professionals seemed to at least approve of my work. Squee ~_^
After judging I did the round of photos for C2E2 and some for Cosplay Culture Magazine, and was free to leave for the afternoon. There was an optional live-stream interview session arranged with twitch at 2:00 which both Ragz and I decided against attending... I'm not super comfortable being interviewed on camera, let alone it being a live broadcast, and since I'm not aspiring to be a "professional cosplayer" and I'm not a commissioner, I don't need the self-promotion. I still haven't watched the recording of the interviews, but Stark saw them as part of the Championships pre-show, and said we made the right choice when we declined to participate. According to his review, the interviewers had no idea what they were talking about (making themselves look like idiots), and as a result of trying to answer their questions, the cosplayers didn't look any better. Very unfortunate.
The stage show wasn't scheduled until 7 pm, but we were asked to return to the holding room at 5 so that everyone could go to the other holding room (which I'm just going to call the greenroom) all together so people didn't get lost. On one hand, arriving 2 hours early was not at all necessary given that all the pre-judging and photos had already been finished in the morning, but given how long it took to get all the contestants and costumes up to the greenroom, I guess it was a good idea after all. We had to go from the first floor at one end of the (huge) convention center all the way to the fifth floor on the opposite side of the building, and had to do it in groups of 10 or so people because we were taking elevators. That took a long time to happen.
The next bit is where things started to get rough. At 6:30, we were ushered down to the fourth floor (which is where the main stage was) and lined up in a concrete hallway. We proceeded to stand around in the hallway, posed for some backstage photos and video, and continued to wait. I don't even know how long we were there, since I left my phone, and the other belongings I had with me, in the greenroom so I wouldn't have to worry about them on stage. After what felt like an eternity of waiting for the pre-show to end and for the MC to stop talking (almost nothing in terms of actual words was audible from backstage, or even on stage), we got to take our brief walk across the stage. But once that was done, instead of returning to the greenroom (where the tables and chairs and our stuff was) to wait for the remainder of the show and for the judges' deliberations, we had to line up again in that back hallway, ready to parade back out for the awards. So we were stuck there, in the hall, with no chairs, no water, and no washrooms until sometime after 9:00 when awards were finally given and we could leave. So that's over 2.5 hours stuck in the hallway. I was unlucky in that I hadn't thought to bring my phone with me, so I couldn't get in touch with anyone, or see the fan's choice polls, or take photos with the other contestants; but I was lucky in that I was definitely in one of the most comfortable costumes in the contest. I don't even know how Groot survived.
So we all went back on stage, the awards were handed out, and then back to the hallway again, where we then had to try to find a staffer who could show us the way back to the greenroom where many people had left their stuff! Unfortunately, we were totally on our own for getting back to the holding room on the first floor for the swag bags everyone was getting for participating. The halls were crowded with the audience also trying to leave the building for the night, so we ended up having to back-track quite a bit when routes we took to avoid crowds ended up not going where we thought they did.... I was so sick of being in costume that I was removing all my accessories as I was walking down the hall. By the time Mr Stark met back up with us in the holding room, I'd taken off my wristbands, gloves, guts, hat, wig, and ears.... basically everything I could. Didn't care how weird I looked going back to the hotel. At least the swag bag was useful for holding all the pieces of my costume!
My Final Review:
I knew when I applied that I wasn't going to win anything (especially with the "top-three" award system instead of the "excellence deserves recognition" system I'm used to) but I wanted to have the experience of entering a contest in the US, and one where the emphasis was on workmanship instead of on performance seemed like a good fit for me. Even though I'm often cripplingly shy, my favourite thing about masquerades is getting to talk to the other contestants and learn from them or just admire their work, and make new friends. Talking-shop about costumes and conventions is the best icebreaker I have LOL Since my end goal was not to win the crown, but to have fun and meet some amazing cosplayers, I consider the contest a huge success.
... All that having been said, given the hassles of this style of contest, it really seems designed only for people who are serious about winning. I don't think I would enter again... it's hard to justify having to be so uncomfortable for so much of the day instead of getting to enjoy the rest of the convention. And that's coming from someone for whom "cosplay" is the main draw of almost every con.
Groot: Jim Schmid
Lady Sif: Phire & Brimstone
Captain America: Cap Santiago
Peggy Carter: AsgardBarbie
Loki: Son of Asgard Cosplay
photo: Video Game Tidbits
photo: KW Iron Man
photo: Gregory Romany
And a full list of winners (with photos!) is available over at Midlife Crisis Crossover.
*not all entries ended up in the same category that they applied for - several of the other "comic book" cosplayers had applied for "movies and TV" but the contest directors made the final decisions on which category each costume would compete in.