All the gaming stuff aside, Blizzcon also serves as a celebration of Blizzard’s dedicated fan community of artists, musicians, cosplayers, storytellers, and streamers. After canceling Blizzcon 2020 due to COVID-19, the community showcase came back this year with a distinctive awareness of being in the midst of a global pandemic.
This awareness was immediately apparent from the start of the showcase when Darin De Paul, host of the show and voice of Reinhardt – as well as many Blizzard fan favorites – ran out onto the stage throwing candy to the audience of an empty theater.
“Tonight just think of me as the human equivalent of comfort food,” De Paul said. “Even in this time of distance, our community creates things that give us connections.”
De Paul put on a lovably upbeat show throughout the night, highlighting the talents of the Blizzard community through musician tributes to the whole catalog of Blizzard games, excellent fan made digital shorts, and, of course, the cosplay showcase.
The talent spotlight segments scattered throughout the showcase presented a diverse set of fan songs and musical tributes to Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Diablo. The spotlight shone on everything, from a hard rocking Starcraft tribute, to a braggadocious Mei from Overwatch rap, to more classical pieces from the World of Warcraft and Diablo series.
One of the real stars of the show was the digital storytelling competition. De Paul said it best when commending the creativity coming out of the Blizzard community: “You’re so great because you take the stories and make them your own.”
Taking the third place slot was Greymane Negotiations, a fan made short set on a battlefield where the Forsaken Elf Sylvanas is conducting negotiations with Humanoid Worgen Genn Greymane, here portrayed by the cutest dog’s head sticking out of a suit of armor.
Seriously, I think this short was the highlight of the whole community showcase, even though it came in third. The doggo alone should’ve landed this short in first place.
Second place went to The Plague of Azeroth, a delightful little sea shanty chronicling a pirate’s search for the cause of plague in Azeroth, and by plague they mean COVID-19. The sea shanty is delightfully jeering with its chorus “six feet apart or six feet down / stand next to me and I’ll put ye underground,” and a bit of throwing shade at pandemic deniers at the end. In addition to the just stellar quality and earworminess of the shanty, the video appears to be entirely animated in WOW.
Remotewatch, an Overwatch skit told through a zoom call, took home first place. While not my personal favorite of the three shorts, Remotewatch was impressive on the merit that it brought together multiple Overwatch cosplayers from across the globe to make all the video call-based jokes you’d expect from a short like this. Reinhardt is a boomer so he doesn’t know the internet works, Genji is stealthy so he forgets to turn off mute, and Sombra is a hacker so she crashes the zoom call at the end of the video.
Moving on to the main event, De Paul, along with several members of the Blizzard community at large including streamers, staff, and nonprofit owners, introduced the finalists in the Blizzcon cosplay competition.
Like everything else with Blizzcon this year, the cosplay competition was affected by the pandemic, as all the finalists had recorded videos of themselves in their best cosplay. Interestingly, this year’s cosplay competition may have made participation more available to the public due to video submissions.
Olivia “Livibee” Seeto, an Australian streamer who introduced the finalist for the modern creations cosplay category, reminisced over how streaming has kept her engaged in community during the last year of pandemic.
“Even if you’re someone who’s not used to staying inside all the time, there’s always a place for you to hang with the same people who share the passion for gaming that you do,” Livibee said.
Gaming events organizer and innkeeper cosplayer Scott Levy, who introduced the character cosplay finalist, shared a similar sentiment that this was a difficult year and that he even misses “the two hours of glue and makeup to become the innkeeper.”
From around the world, the finalists for the competition and the categories that they won in are as follows:
Weapons & Armor: Barbarian Leader – Ahyra Cosplay, Spain
Blizzard Character: Bolvar – Hartigan Cosplay, Belgium
Traditional Creations: Arthas Menethil The Lich King – Nils Beardfoot, USA
Modern Creations: Queen Neptulon the Tidehunder – Panterona, Trinidad and Tobago
Voice actor Mathew Mercer, the host of Critical Role, also made an appearance at the end of the event to announce the best in show winner alongside Darin De Paul. De Paul and Mercer had a charming little socially distanced exchange.
“Figured it either be this this or the pajamas I’ve been wearing for the last six months,” Mercer said in regards to his Mcree cosplay. “I figured this has an air of professionalism about it.”
As for who won best in show, Hartigan Cosplay from Belgium, who won in traditional creations, took home the best in show prize and you can see exactly why below.
On a final note, De Paul took a moment during the showcase to acknowledge the passing of Jarod Nandin – who cosplayed as “That Which Has No LIfe” from South Park during previous Blizzcons, who died of complications from COVID-19.
“Jarod was one of the most creative ones to walk the Blizzcon stage. Our cosplay community deeply feels this loss,” he said.