While Australia has been sending representatives overseas to compete in international cosplay comps since 2009, this year is the first year we've brought home the crown -- and in the first year of C2E2's huge international competition, what's more. Brisbane's Major Sam Cosplay competed against a number of incredibly impressive cosplayers from all over the world, ultimately taking home first place for the Aussie cosplay community.
Major Sam took the stage around midday on Sunday, joined by representatives from US, China, Austria, Singapore, Indonesia, India and France. This year was the first that C2E2 expanded its prestigious Crown Championships of Cosplay event to include international representatives, holding national rounds across the world. As far as cosplay contests go (and I've seen quite a few) the quality was staggering. Among the international guests, three out of seven of them had costumes so huge that they almost couldn't fit on stage.
Of course, Twitch's replays now include chat as well -- meaning you can read the messages of support flooding in for Sam from the Australian community. In fact, in a community that's often fractured by one issue or another, this is the first time I've seen Aussie cosplayers so united behind a single person. "It is unreal and overwhelming," Major Sam said of her win. "It's one thing competing against the rest of Australia, but against multiple countries is unfathomable. It hasn't sunk in yet and I don't think it will for awhile, if at all."
Not only is Sam's win notable for the Australian cosplay community, it also proves that sewing-heavy costumes can win against huge armoured creations -- even though the latter might seem more impressive at first glance. "We had to consider the different skills that went into making these costumes," said cosplay guest judge, Yaya Han. "We had to determine what kind of effort was put into the costumes, and how you can compare two very different costumes to each other."
When you see the work that went into Sam's costume, you can understand how she beat out even the life-sized Hulkbuster. "I don't envy judges when it comes to a situation between needing to compare armour to sewing," Major Sam said. "But in the end it comes down to three things that apply to both types of costumes: the overall finish, amount of work and how many different skills were used."
As Oz Comic Con's national arm of the competition, the Australian Championships of Cosplay kicks off again in Perth on the first weekend of April, and no doubt many hopeful competitors will have been inspired by Major Sam's successes overseas.
With a broader scope than Australia's other national cosplay competitions -- allowing costumes from any type of media you're inspired by, rather than just Japanese media, as well as not requiring or even allowing skits -- the Championships are set to become an event that every competitive cosplayer in Australia will want to enter (and win).
Having taken direction and advice from people within the community, Oz Comic Con's contest is an event that for what cosplay has become, recognising that cosplayers are more than just fans -- having become talented craftspeople and artisans in their own right.
Major Sam's win overseas proves Australia has what it takes to compete on a national stage, though next year's representative will have some pretty big boots to fill. "Give it 120% and don't play it safe," is Major Sam's one piece of advice for championship hopefuls. "Go all out and don't cut yourself short. If that one element of the costume is going to need dozens of hours to make, give that element the time it deserves. Giving a costume time is what makes a good costume great."
Of course, this year's entrants will still have to defend against the reigning champion, as Sam has no intention of stepping down so easily. "I won't be judging any OZCC rounds this year as I'll be reentering again," Sam tells me. "Competing is where I am most happy."
The preliminary rounds will happen throughout the year in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, with the grand final taking place in Brisbane. With the championships turning up an incredible amount of talent, I can't wait to see who will be waving the Australian flag at next year's C2E2.