There were many familiar faces at the League of Legends World Championship this year. Among them were the professional cosplay team Spiral Cats (SC), who were officially invited by Riot Games to showcase their work in New York and Los Angeles. Capturing the eyes of many at Worlds with impressive their Arcade series cosplays, SC now has a reputation that precedes their name.
Inven had the chance to speak to two members from SC, who were still busy with last-minute preparations on the day before the grand finals.
Would you like to say hello to your fans?
Tasha: Hi. I’m Tasha, SC’s team leader.
Doremi: Hello there. I’m Doremi, SC’s bottom of the totem pole.
What cosplays have you prepared?
Tasha: We’ve already showcased Arcade Riven and Ahri. For the finals, I’ve prepared Mega Gnar and Doremi’s done Mini Gnar.
I understand that you were pressed for time. What obstacles did you encounter?
Tasha: Luckily, I got immense help from partners I’ve worked with closely over the years. We usually plan about three months in advance, but we got called in just a month before Worlds. Naturally, we were extremely pressured to meet the deadline and had to expedite the process from costume shops, not to mention several all-nighters on our part. It was especially tough for the three of us - SC’s CEO, Doremi, and I - to prepare five costumes within a month. On top of everything, we all have very high standards, so we had to run multiple iterations.
Has anyone recognized you since your first "US tour"?
Tasha: Unfortunately, there simply wasn’t much time to go outside because we mostly were cooped up in a hotel making costumes. What I remember most about New York was madly preparing for the show. We did some sightseeing on the last day, though.
Doremi: I was so busy I didn’t have any time to rest. Now that we’ve finished our costumes in LA, we finally had some free time to go to a nearby swimming pool. That’s about it [laughs].
Tasha: I do think that our presence is definitely growing. There was a fan who recognized me without my costumes. We were briefly shown in the video before the match between H2K and Samsung Galaxy, too.
Other cosplayers were identified by champion names as they went by, but we were called out by the name of our team and the champion names. It was a touching moment for me. The English casters used our team name as well!
You’re unveiling your Gnar cosplay for the first time tomorrow. How did you decide on the character, and what kind of reception do you anticipate?
Tasha: We decided on Gnar due to the work of Jessica Nigri. According to the YouTube view counting website called Mojo, she was ranked number one while we were number three. Doremi and I are huge fans of her, and Gnar is one of her signature cosplays. We not only wanted to pay her respect but also wanted a new challenge after doing original characters such as Arcade Riven and Ahri.
I know there are many people who like gender bender cosplays. This is our first take on the concept, and I hope people like it.
You were invited as cosplayers, but since you got to watch every match in person, I guess we could say you're also spectators. How was the crowd and your experience?
Doremi: Actually, I’m a massive SKT and Faker fangirl. I had a really good time watching the match between SKT and ROX, even though it was rather long. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I was ecstatic to see SKT advance but also sorry to see ROX drop out. I’ve never actually seen Faker when he played in Korea. My small wish would be to take a picture with him [laughs].
Tasha: Worlds is a festival for people all over the globe, so I was concerned that an all-Korean match would undermine the excitement. Despite my worries, significantly more people came to watch the match between SKT and ROX. The number difference in the crowd was visible. I also noticed that the audience was chanting “Peanut”, despite Faker being on the stage. It turned out that Peanut was rather popular among female fans. I was heartbroken to see him tearing up after the series.
Doremi: I’m a fan of Faker, but I also adore Peanut. Heheh….
Ever since Spiral Cats was founded as a professional cosplay team, many other teams have followed suit. However, people still point to Spiral Cats as the best team. What’s the secret?
Tasha: I think the foundation of any cosplay should always lie in the quality of costumes. All of SC - including our CEO, Doremi, and I - pride ourselves on our work. From a fan’s perspective, there’s nothing more disappointing than seeing a professional cosplay team with a subpar costume. Our priority above all else is to always prepare top-notch costumes.
There aren’t many chances to interact with people in this line of work because we mostly spend time researching characters and making costumes. What makes the difference for us is that we bond well with other teammates, which shows up in the end product.
Doremi: There's a great deal of work involved. I try my best to understand and love what I do by playing video games and loving the characters I portray.
Tasha: For what it’s worth, Doremi isn’t your average female gamer. If someone told me to play games in PC bang for 24 hours straight, I’d never be able to do it, but I think she can easily manage it. She also invests a lot of resources into mobile games. I started gaming because of my work and became quite fond of it, whereas she began working because of her love for gaming. Obviously, she’s a very skilled gamer and helps me as my support.
How does the selection process for cosplay work, and who has the most say-so in the matter?
Tasha: Our CEO has the final say in almost all of our costume choices. I’m the next in line as the team leader, and then Doremi. She doesn’t have any meaningful influence [laughs]. Our head picks about 90 percent of the time, and on extremely rare occasions, I do by throwing a tantrum. His perspective and judgment call is exceptionally accurate, so the result is mostly positive.
Our initial costume suggestion for this Worlds was actually something else entirely, but we decided to go with the Arcade series after much deliberation. It was the right choice given the synergy with other teams cosplaying as remaining Arcade series members.
Our CEO takes his time in these decisions, and it took him about two weeks this time. He always does this by lying down with his eyes closed and telling us he isn’t asleep. Then he eventually starts snoring, so I wake him up to ask for his confirmation [laughs]. At this point, we sometimes work with new ideas. This is roughly our selection process.
There’s a famous creator support at Riot named Jynx who used her cosplaying experience to help cosplayers by joining the company. She’s my role model. I’m not sure if she had anything to do with it, but it was nice to see infrastructure and other amenities that were tailored to meet the needs of cosplayers.
Doremi: Since Jynx used to be a cosplayer, she understands the ins-and-outs of cosplay and makes sure that cosplayers are comfortable.
You’ve cosplayed various characters so far. What are some you’d like to do in the future?
Doremi: I like small and cute characters like Annie and Lulu. You wouldn’t think it, but I’m still a little girl at heart. I’m a little bit sad that people think I’m not fit to cosplay a small character because I’m over 5’7” (170cm). It’s something I’ve only been dreaming about. I want to cosplay as Lulu someday.
Tasha: So I’ve been thinking about recruiting a smaller member to fill that void [laughs]. I wanted to do Ahri for the longest time, but our CEO was adamantly against it, saying that my image aligns more with Nidalee, not Ahri. So Doremi has filled the role in the past, but I finally got to be Ahri with this Arcade series. Actually, she could’ve been Ahri if she wanted to, but said that she liked Riven better and gave me the part instead. It was a dream come true.
Who will win this Worlds, if you had to venture a guess?
Doremi & Tasha: Probably SKT. Third time’s the charm. Like I said, I’m a massive Faker fan, so obviously I want them to win. That said, I wish the best for SSG because of how dramatic and storied their road to Worlds has been. Some fans online said that they wanted no more SKT skins. Anyway, both of them can’t win, so I guess someone will?