Cosplay at ESL One Manila 2016, Southeast Asia’s Biggest Ever eSports Event


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The local cosplay community got to show the world their passion and hard work on a grand stage at ESL One Manila 2016, Southeast Asia’s biggest ever eSports event. Local cosplayers, themselves Dota 2 players and enthusiasts, were thrilled that ESL One got to include cosplay in the festivities of this two-day affair.


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Ever since it was announced late last year, Filipino Dota 2 fans have been ecstatic about ESL coming to the country as it was once thought impossible.  They were enthusiastic and appreciative all throughout, with the tickets for ESL One Manila easily selling out the day they were put on sale way back December 8. The Philippines has one of the biggest and most active gaming communities in the world, and everyone was grateful that ESL One got to recognize the energy and enthusiasm the local eSports community has been demonstrating here and abroad.  The MOA Arena was a fitting venue for the much anticipated two-day event, with more than 6,000 enthusiasts gathering from all over for this rare opportunity with ESL One’s first venture into the SEA region.


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As news of a cosplay competition for ESL came out some time before the event, Dota 2 cosplayers everywhere got excited as they prepared their costumes and props.  ESL was especially nice to cosplayers, offering them free entrance to the event if they come as a Dota character.  They were treated as special guests and were able to go backstage and meet the other guests.


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The first day of the event was for prejudging.  One of the judges was there to assess the cosplayers as well as their costumes.  The best ones were asked to come back by noon the next day for the competition proper. In the meantime they were allowed to stay and watch the game and take in more of the ESL experience for free.


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With Day 2, it was finally time for the cosplayers to show their talents and their passion.  They had a parade around the arena as the audience looked on in amazement and curiosity.


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They were then led to the backstage where they got to do some final preparations before the main presentation.  Knowing you’ll be appearing and performing live  in front of 6,000 people is definitely a nerve-wracking thought, but good thing there were pleasant distractions backstage, like having their photos taken by the staff and guests, chats with guests and with each other, and interviews for features within the coverage.


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The cosplay competition started off with the introduction of the judges, and they definitely were top-notch.  First was a prominent Indian cosplayer Aorin, who had been busy all weekend tending to the details of the contest and the well-being of the cosplayers.


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Commentator Toby “Tobiwan” Dawson has been designated long before by ESL as a cosplay judge, and the witty caster admitted he was glad to be there to see the competition up close.


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World-renowned cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao completes the panel of judges, taking the liberty of cosplaying as Lyralei the Windranger.


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The competitors then got on stage one by one to show off their finely-crafted costumes coupled with spectacular performances in from of an appreciative audience.  Games have always been an inspiration for cosplay, and Dota 2 with its imaginative and fantastic roster characters was something cosplayers wanted to bring to life, no matter how challenging it may be.


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After careful deliberation by the panel of judges, they got to announce the cosplayers who have won their hearts.  Third place went to the Templar Assassin Twins Misaki and Kristine, who got the judges vote with their playful performance.  They were awarded the huge $100 check by Judge Aorin.


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Second place went to Miko Rae Enriquez as Terrorblade.  The costume is over six feet high as he stood on stilts with a wingspan almost as long.  His appearance was made even more impressive with the LED lighted helmet and chest piece that radiated a distinct bluish glow.  Painstakingly created by prominent local crafter Krisdel Ingreso, it truly was a sight to behold.  Judge Tobiwan got to award him the giant $150 check.


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Named champion of the first ever cosplay competition of ESL One Manila was 13-year-old Izaiah Luke Buelos cosplaying as Davion, the Dragon Knight.  The costume itself was fashioned mostly from rubber sheet, as was with the intricately stylized sword and shield.  The helmet had LED lights underneath, achieving the eerie glowing eyes. The costume was crafted by his father, Jay-R, who made everything in a remarkable 3 days, non-stop, just to have everything ready by the competition.  For their feat they were awarded the grand prize of $250 by Judge Alodia herself plus a Geforce graphics card from sponsor MSI.  All throughout the competition, the organizers, guests, commentators and staff from all around the world remarked how beautifully made the costumes were, and how creative Filipino crafters were in integrating lights, stilts, and other accessories into the cosplays, saying that Filipino ingenuity was among the best in the world.


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Outside of the competition, cosplayers were also very visible as they helped promote the various exhibitors and sponsors throughout the length of the event.  Attendees had a great time having photos of them and photos with them.


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We are grateful to ESL One for bringing one of the biggest eSports events to the Philippines, and also for making cosplay a part of the festivities. The Philippine cosplay community really appreciates being able to share our cosplay on a grand stage in front of a wider audience all around the world.  May thanks as well for letting cover this spectacular event and letting us take part in history.


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Xtian Mack

Xtian Mack

Xtian Mack took up AB English Studies, Major in Creative Writing at UP Diliman. Currently works for a medical transcription company. He is the Creative Director of The Cosplay Cafe:, doing photography, writing, and reporting for the website. His line of photography specializes in cosplay event coverage, having covered 300 events in a span of 3 years. Loves cute and furry things.