"I feel like the more interesting looking characters resonate better with my personality": interviewing Chris, a cosplayer heading to ESL One at New York Super Week

ESL One at New York Super Week kicks off tomorrow with the world’s best teams battling it out for a US$250,000 prize pool and the ESL One championship title. Apart from seeing world-class players and top-notch Dota 2 action, we are looking forward to seeing thousands of passionate fans including the cosplayers who will undoubtedly enrich the whole event.

We chat to one of the participants of the cosplay competition, Chris, about his passion for cosplay, Dota 2 and more!

ESL: Hi there! Firstly, how did your adventure with cosplay begin?
Chris: My first ever experience was at a local convention on Long Island, ICON to be exact. It was my first convention, and a friend of mine coined me into dressing up with their group. It was nothing too crazy, just a shirt and some makeup but it was my first real convention and I didn’t know what to expect; Not surprisingly, I had an experience like none other, and I wanted more of it. Unfortunately, the ICON convention has since been cancelled, and replaced with an even smaller convention. This is when the gears started turning, I tried to get some of my friends and I to get a group going for the Cherry Blossom festival in Brooklyn, unfortunately I had to purchase an outfit (no shame in that,) as I had no knowledge to distinguish a bobbin from a seam. This leads into my final project for my senior art portfolio, where my teacher had taught me everything I needed to know about sewing machines. I made an attempt at a hoodie from Kagerou Project, but it never got finished on my part. I then used this knowledge to create my first independant actual cosplay. No help from anyone but myself. I managed to throw together a Rhasta (Shadow Shaman) cosplay in the matter of about a week and a half for New York Comic Con 2013. There I met some more experienced cosplayers who taught me more advanced techniques with fibreglass and resin modeling, as well as the basic concepts of armor design. And well, here I am now entering in for the competition at ESL.    

ESL: Who will you be cosplaying as at ESL One at New York Super Week?
Chris:  For this event, I will be cosplaying as Oracle, the comic book version from The Contract.

ESL: Why did you choose that particular hero? Do you identify with them in some way?
Chris:  Whenever I choose a character, I usually choose them for a craftsmanship purpose. Hence why I chose Rhasta when I was learning to sew, and Oracle when I wanted to learn armor crafting. I feel like the more interesting looking characters resonate better with my personality, as I tend to usually enjoy the quirks and oddities of each design and characteristic. I also have a tendency to look for the road less travelled, or in this case the heroes with low winrates. I feel like many of these heroes have such strong skillsets and not many people know how to take advantage of them. When I feel like I have mastered a skill nobody else can it gives me a great sense of achievement, similarly to how I look to activities like cosplay.

ESL: How are the preparations going? Which part of the cosplay has been proving the most difficult to make?
Chris: The costume has actually been done since June, as It was originally used for AnimeNext 2015. Unfortunately, some of the pieces had sustained damage while I was there, so the past week has been fixing small errors from the first run. I had planned on getting a 3d printer to redesign the armor so they would all look better, but unfortunately funds didn’t allow for that.

By far the absolute worst part of the costume was the time dial. Not only was it completed, but I had absolutely no idea on how to mount it to my costume. It was too big, but it was too light to sustain its size; It would always collapse on itself. So I decided to scrap both the idea of the dial, and nights without sleep as it seemed to be a better idea to use what I already had finished. I also had forgot to mention, the whole costume had been made in 3 weeks from planning to completion, so that was a crazy experience.

Click to enlarge

ESL: What is your favorite thing about cosplaying?
Chris: I love building. When I create something, I feel like I’ve done something for either myself, or someone else. I get a great sense of pride and motivation whenever I see little foam pieces come together to form a helmet, or a set of pauldrons. It’s partially why I am going into computer engineering, as just seeing hardware in operation that I created gives me a special feeling.

ESL: Who is your favorite Dota 2 hero and why?
Chris: The crown goes to Rhasta. Neia teia an da ka! Being forced into position 5 when you first start the game kinda made me love the little guys. At one point he was the only hero I played. From there it goes into the Oracle/Earth Spirit realm, and I soon hope for Arc Warden to join that club. Even though I play a lot of heroes, Rhasta will always be my favorite.

ESL: What other video games do you play? Do you also cosplay characters from them (or indeed other characters from popular culture)?
Chris:  I enjoy playing JRPGs, games like the Shin Megami Tensei series are just spectacular; The stories and worlds portrayed in them are so rich and atmospheric. I have done a cosplay of the protagonist from Persona 3.  At one point I was a huge Team Fortress 2 nut, but that evolved into DotA2. Suda51 makes some of my favorite games, No More Heroes 2 is one of my absolute favorites from him, I’m trying to do a Hard mode without Upgrades run but even after beating the game 4 times I’m still finding a few difficulties with the game. I dabble in the occasional fighter, Smash, Guilty Gear, Skullgirls, BlazBlue (Fu Rin Ka Zaaan!). Although it may not be a video game, I’m a huge Neon Genesis Evangelion freak. Studio Gainax, the creators of Evangelion is another obsession of mine, I’ve watched almost all of their work, shows like Fooly Cooly and Evangelion are masterpieces and are inspirational works of art to me. The imagery and existentialism in both of them are what really keep me interested. If I could cosplay a character from a Gainax show, it would be Lord Canti..     

ESL: What is your dream cosplay?
Chris: One character I’ve always wanted to cosplay was Bang Shishigami from BlazBlue. As much as I would still like to do that, I’ve slightly gravitated more towards mechas as my dream cosplay. One of the robots I would love to cosplay would be Lord Canti from Fooly Cooly. His silent and strong composure always made me love him, he was even strong enough to be seen as god to the one of the characters. He also uses a bass guitar as a weapon, give him some credit there. If I had infinite time and money, I would love the do Full Frontal’s Sinanju from Gundam Unicorn or Evangelion Unit - 01.  

ESL: When did you first get into Dota?
Chris: I originally despised MOBAs/ARTS games. I felt like top down Strategy games with more micro management skills were the real strategy games. However, I found out about DotA2, and requested an invite because “Hey, free game!” That was back in March when I got invited. Loaded up into a bot match, randomed beastmaster, I thought “Never again.” Fast forward 9 months later, The Greeviling came out, and one of my friends just got in. I was playing the  holiday game mode just for the drops to sell on the market (someone’s gotta pay for the winter sale,) and my buddy decided to send me the resources I would need to actually start playing the game and stop picking Sniper. So, I started playing around the Winter of 2012, but got really interested around say the Spring of 2013. The International 2013 was the nail in the coffin. I was hooked.

ESL: Did you attend last year’s ESL One New York? If so, what’s your best memory?
Chris: Unfortunately no, I didn’t even know ESL One New York existed until my friends at Comic con showed me while I was at home! So I would say my best memory was envying my friends who had gone to both events in the same day.

ESL: Which team are you going to be supporting at the upcoming event? Do you think they are capable of winning it all?
Chris: If it’s anything like the International, I’m going to have to go with Evil Geniuses. They were phenomenal then, and I don’t expect them to drop the ball. In my heart though, I miss the age of the rChrist kings.

ESL: What are you most looking forward to at ESL One at New York Super Week?
Chris: I really look forward to the people there. I get to meet some of the best players in all the world, people that I look up to as role models who follow their dreams. Not to mention the afterparty!

ESL: Thanks for chatting with us and have fun in New York! Are there any shoutouts you’d like to make?
Chris: I have a few, first one off for my wonderful girlfriend Dani, for being as supportive of me as she always is. You’ve helped me a lot with getting here and I love what you do for me. Secondly Chew, for actually putting up with me convincing you to play that one winter.Another two for Freon, for teaching me the basics and getting me into the game, and Alpha for getting me actually to start playing. After that is Zippie and Eric, for teaching me what I needed to know to get Oracle done as quickly as I could. Stony brook Dota crew, you guys are great to play with every week! Finally is my friends, whether it be online or offline for looking out for me when I need it.

To see more of Chris’ works, be sure to visit his Facebook page. If you want to join Chris and watch the giant clash of Dota 2 superstars at Madison Square Garden Theater, there are still tickets available - grab yours here! For all important information about ESL One at New York Super Week, visit the event’s official website and follow @ESLDota2 on Twitter and Facebook.

Header image courtesy of www.dota2.com


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