While we make every effort to have the complete and final rules published, we may need to make adjustments or modifications to the rules at any time to improve the clarity of the rules or the operation of the cosplay events.
Mainstage Cosplay Contest Categories
The Grand Cosplay has two categories: Performance & Craftsmanship. Entries may choose to compete in one or both categories if they qualify. There will be one winner chosen per skill level in craftsmanship,as well as a “Best Performance” and a "Best in Show." There may also be honorable mentions or "shout outs", however they will not receive any official award or prize.
- Craftsmanship - Entries are judged on both the overall appearance of their cosplay, and the quality of the construction of the costume. Purchased costumes may not compete in this category, but outfits do not need to be worn by the creator so long as the costume creator is present at the convention during judging. Contestants are encouraged to bring reference pictures and in-progress photographs to show the judges during the pre-judging before the on-stage presentation. Groups or individuals that are doing performances for the Performance category may request to be judged on Craftsmanship as well, but no one can go on stage a second time to be judged separately for Craftsmanship.
- If an outfit includes a combination of created and purchased items, any purchased pieces must be disclosed to the judges on your entry form. Judges will determine your eligibility, which requires that at least 80% of your costume has been created or altered in a significant manner. Judges have the exclusive ability to determine a costume's eligibility in the craftsmanship contest.
- Performance - Entries are being judged on their acting, memorization, representation, and presence. In short, how well they can act like a certain character, or how well they perform a skit, how well they present themselves in their cosplay, etc. Purchased costumes may compete in this category. Groups or individuals that are doing performances for the Performance category may request to be judged on Craftsmanship as well, but no one can go on stage a second time to be judged separately for Craftsmanship.
- Others - At smaller conventions, under 2,000 attendees, we may, at our sole discretion, allow non-competition exhibition entries who are just entering for fun and not eligible for awards.
Craftsmanship is broken down into three divisions based on the competitors' experience and previous awards. Competitors will be assigned a division based on information given on the sign-up form.
- Beginner: his division is for, you guessed it, beginners! Those that are new to making costumes or competing in cosplay competitions fall in this category.
- Contestants who have never before competed.
- Contestants who have not won a major award (Best in Category or Best in Show) at a convention of equal or larger average attendance.
- Contestants who have won any award at a division higher than beginner may NOT compete in the beginner category.
- Experienced: This division is for those who have a few wins under their belt and have experience competing in cosplay competitions.
- Contestants who have won 1-5 major awards at a convention of approximately equal or larger average attendance.
- Contestants who have won any award at a division higher than experienced may NOT compete in the experienced category.
- Master: This division is for those who have mastered several crafting techniques and have won many major awards at previous competitions. A higher level of cleanliness, creativity, and overall mastery of craft is expected in this category.
- Contestants who have won more than 5 major awards at conventions of equal or larger average attendance
- Contestants who are professional costumers must enter the master division. Those who are paid for any work related to cosplay creation or seamstress work are considered professional.
- Contestants who have won a Best in show at a major event (20,000 average attendance or more) must compete in the master division.
For group entries, the contestant with the highest level of experience determines the category. For example, if a group has two beginners and one experienced crafter they must compete in the experienced division.
All contestants competing in craftsmanship are required to attend pre-judging Saturday of the convention. Pre-judging is a one on one session with the judges that allows the contestant to explain their crafting process while allowing the judges to see the custom up close.
- Pre-judging session times will be assigned at check-in on Friday and will take place between 9:00 am-3:00 pm on Saturday.
- Contestants must be in full costume and have any props with them.
- If the costume is being worn by someone other than the maker, both the model wearing the costume and the creator must be present.
- Pre-judging sessions will last 5-7 minutes. Consider it an elevator pitch on how you made your costume.
- Those that miss their pre-judging session will be disqualified from the competition and unable to compete.
Those only competing in craftsmanship will go on stage as a walk on. Think of it like a fashion show! Contestants will walk to far stage for pose #1, near stage for pose #2, and center stage for pose #3, making sure to hold each pose for 3-5 seconds.
Contestants may provide custom audio/music to be played during their walk on, otherwise generic music will be provided. See the audio section for more details.
- Performances must be a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of 2 minutes. Performances may be extended up to 3 minutes only with prior approval from the Head of Cosplay.
- Full details of the performance must be disclosed in the sign-up form. Surprise the audience, not the staff!
- Audio must be turned in before the end of check-in (8:00 pm Friday) Please see the audio section for more details and requirements.
- Nothing may be thrown off the stage and/or into the audience including but not limited to people, glitter, confetti, props, etc…This will result in immediate disqualification.
- Anything brought on stage for the performance (props, costume pieces, etc…) must be removed immediately after the performance.
- Performances that require a microphone will only be given ONE microphone. Please plan accordingly.
- Performance content that is a direct duplicate of an existing performance will get you disqualified unless you credit your source.
All contestants are required to check-in at the cosplay table Friday of the convention.
- Check-in is from 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm Friday.
- Entry information will be verified and pre-judging times assigned.
- Any entries that have not checked in by 8:00 pm Friday will be disqualified and unable to compete.
- At con entries will be allowed during the check-in time, space permitting.
We run a full runthrough at all of our competitions to ensure the best show possible! Competitors will verify their stage name and introduction with the MC, receive full instruction on posing and stage directions, as well as getting a practice run of the show.
**Run-through is MANDATORY. If you are not present for the run-through you will be disqualified from the competition.
- All audio must be turned in before the end of sign-in (8:00 pm Friday).
- Audio files must be in MP3 format and no longer than 2 minutes.
- Audio files can be uploaded through the sign up form or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Performances that require specific music MUST provide their own audio.
- Please name your file [your stage name + convention + year] so that it can easily be found and accessed. EX: abccosplaymidwest23.mp3
Good quality audio, that is not too-soft at some parts and too-loud at others, will make or break your performance scripts. If you have pre-recorded sounds or dialogue, the importance of the quality of your audio can not be overstated.
- All Cosplay participants must be registered attendees of the convention.
- Passing other people's work off as your own original work whether it be crafting, designing, or performance, or not making 80% of your cosplay is considered unethical and will get you disqualified.
- Staff members, and immediate family, are not eligible to compete.
- NO blatant nudity/adult related content or language. This event is rated PG-13, and we are a family-friendly convention. Please use some discretion with your character, props and presentation.
- Your entry must be finished before you get to the contest room. No sewing, gluing, spray painting, welding, or other construction work is allowed backstage. However, final assembly of large pieces and/or props and unexpected repairs will be allowed.
- Participants will be required to agree to a liability release and a release for use of video and photo images.
- We reserve the right to modify the rules, change or withdraw offered prizes, or cancel or withdraw the competition, if the convention finds it appropriate in its sole discretion for the benefit of public safety, taste, appropriateness, or other necessity
- For safety reasons, the following are not allowed:
- Live animals
- Substances which might damage or soil
- Aerosol sprays
- Projectiles of any kind.
- No pyrotechnics will be allowed including but not limited to: fire, flash powder, explosives, smoke bombs or fireworks.
- Entries that could potentially damage the Convention Center facilities, other participants or the wearer will not be allowed.
- Illegal weapons of any kind are not allowed.
- Prop weapons used as part of the costume are allowed with restrictions. You are expected to act responsibly with your weapon. If you decide to carry a weapon, by attending you accept any legal and financial responsibility for damage your weapon may cause to persons or property.
- Entries with electric power requirements need to be self-contained. There will be no access to electrical outlets on stage.
- All contestants must be able to move their costume on their own. So please no 80 lb wings or giant mecha unless you can walk up stairs in it.
- Audience members are not allowed to run up to the stage area for any reason.
- Audience members and contestants must be courteous and respectful. Please do not boo or shout negative things to contestants.
- You are required to exercise caution when on stage. Please take care to avoid stage edges. Do not do dangerous things on stage.
- When a specific cosplay has won a Major award (“Best in Category” or “Best in Show”), it must not be re-entered into a competition of equal or smaller size without significant changes/modifications. At many events this is known as "sandbagging" and is not allowed.
- Contestants found later to have participated in soundbagging will be disqualified and/or have awards rescinded and may be banned from future competitions.