Cosplaying was on the rise at the NA LCS finals earlier this month, and fans were able to take photos with and experience a nine-person group cosplaying as one of the most popular skin lines in the game—the Star Guardians.
The NA LCS finals in Oakland on Sept. 8 and 9 shared some similar characteristics with past finals venues, but Riot also upped the ante when it came to fan activities and community interaction. There was a mini team village where fans could get merch, free goodies, and play fun little games hosted by their favorite NA LCS teams. There was a giant arcade room featuring couches, arcade machines, and custom-made Riot mini-games. One of the biggest differences was the first-ever streamer meet-and-greet followed by the Streamer Showmatch with names like Tyler “Tyler1” Steinkamp, Michael “Imaqtpie” Santana, and more.
One thing that Riot always does right is cosplay and this event was no exception. Like usual, Riot catered to cosplayers with nothing but hospitality. There were costume repair stations, food, drinks, designated fan-meet areas, and more. After all, community creators are just as important to League of Legends as the game itself, and cosplayers put in a lot of effort.
The nine-person Star Guardian group definitely went above and beyond at Oracle. Their costumes were highly-detailed, they stayed outside in the heat to take photos with League fans, and some of them were even forced to sit out with injuries by the end of the event. All weekend, they did their best to create the best possible Star Guardian experience for the fans, and they pulled it off with aplomb.
An experience like this usually takes months to prepare, but this group only had a couple of weeks’ notice to prepare for the event. It was the definition of last-minute, and that’s certainly impressive in the world of cosplaying.
One of the members of the group, Riot employee Chelsea Hughes (aeneia on Instagram), dressed up as a custom concept—Star Guardian Katarina, and she only had one and a half weeks to create her outfit.
“Normally costumes take me around five to seven months to build, so this was definitely a binge for me,” Hughes told Dot Esports. “I can’t speak for the others, but it seemed like everyone was in crunch time for this.”
Even with the rushed and stressful design process, both Hughes and Cristina Amaya (Silcris88 on Twitter), the group’s Star Guardian Jinx, found the entire experience to be very enjoyable, including their interactions with the fans and Riot’s facilitation of the cosplayers on-site.
Mel Capperino-Garcia, otherwise known as Riot Swimbananas and the current host of Summoner Showcase on Facebook, was the spearhead behind Riot’s on-site cosplayer relations. Riot’s success with the Star Guardian group, in both Hughes and Amaya’s opinion, was largely because of her. Capperino-Garcia was also dressed up, and her costume was for Project: Ashe.
“It’s been such a positive experience,” Hughes said. “Mel has been spearheading all of this, and she’s taken really good care of us. She’s making sure we’re well-hydrated and well-fed, and of course helping us out with interacting with fans.”
“Mel has made this such a smooth experience for me,” Amaya added. “This is my first time cosplaying in a long time, and without her, it wouldn’t have been nearly as awesome.”
This invited cosplay group was just one of many initiatives from Riot to improve its relationship with community creators. Between the Streamer Showcase, on-site cosplay management, and the new League Partner Program, Riot is definitely amping up and broadening that relationship. Hughes and Amaya hope that it continues.
“I think Riot is definitely looking into more opportunities to say, ‘Hey, we really support you, we really support the work you’re doing to help promote us as a company,'” Hughes said. “So I see them moving forward to do more of those kinds of things, but I’m not sure what exactly that looks like.”
“There’s a lot of content creation around cosplay for the Partner Program, too,” Amaya added. “Working on a costume takes time, and you can stream it or do tutorials on it—there’s tons you could do.”
This relationship between Riot and cosplayers is a necessary next step for the future of costume-building and vital for the strength of the fan community. Without it, there wouldn’t have been nine diehard League fans dressed up in costumes of one of the most popular skin lines in the game in Oakland, and no one wants that.