Yama-Con Cosplay Contest

Interested in entering our annual Cosplay Contest? Then you’ve come to the right page! Make sure you review the guidelines and rules for the contest before you enter.

Contest Pre-Registration

Why Pre-Register for the Contest?

We always receive far more entries than we have room to accommodate in the Cosplay Contest so, in the spirit of fairness, we accept contestants into the contest on a first-come, first-served basis. By pre-registering, you guarantee yourself a spot in the Cosplay Contest. Attendees who pre-register also have priority in prejudging appointments and have the ability to book their prejudging appointment before the convention. While we still offer on-site registration during the convention weekend, those spots go fast! If you know you want to enter the contest, pre-registering is the way to go!

Cosplay Contest Registration: Closed! – Not Available Yet

Contest Guidelines

Yama-Con Cosplay University has developed the following guidelines to adhere to the International Costuming Guild’s guidelines for ensuring fair competition. By aligning with these established standards, we hope to make cosplayers of all skill levels feel more comfortable and welcome in our annual contest!

Skill Categories

Yama-Con maintains skill and experience-based divisions in order to ensure that both novice and experienced cosplayers have a reasonably equal chance to win one of the big competitive awards given in the contest.


Group Entries

Due to the various levels of craftsmanship skill and experience that may exist within a single group entry, Yama-Con does not maintain a major group award. It is possible for a group to win the major award “Best in Show” but for this condition to exist, every costume worn by the members of the group must have been made by at least one member of the group. Having one group member in a commissioned costume will make the group ineligible for any Major craftsmanship-based awards. However, it is possible for individual members within the group to win a major craftsmanship award.

Non-Competitive Entries (Exhibition Contestants)

Yama-Con maintains a category specifically for contestants who wish to participate in the contest but either cannot enter because their costume does not meet the criteria for entry into one of the skill-based divisions or if they simply do not want to go through the prejudging process. These competitors are ineligible for major awards but can win minor awards based on the presentation during the Cosplay Contest at the judges’ discretion. Competitors who meet the following criteria cannot participate in any of the skill-based divisions:

  • A contestant who has purchased their costume. Commissioned costumes (handmade, non-massed produced costumes not created by the contestant) may only be entered into a skill-based division if the creator is present and the award will be presented to the creator.
  • A contestant who constructed less than 60% of their costume. Any competitor who is unsure of the eligibility under this criteria may enter as a skill-based contestant and submit their work for prejudging. The judges maintain the prerogative to make the final call on whether or not a competitor qualifies to enter in a skill-based division.
  • A contestant whose costume has won a major award at a similar-sized or larger Cosplay Contest. Specifically, the contestant cannot enter their costume for judging in the same category they won the major award in. This is referred to as “sandbagging” and is generally frowned upon in cosplay competitions.

Award Categories

“Excellence Deserves Award”

The Yama-Con Cosplay Contest operates under the principle “Excellence Deserves Award”. What this means is that we want to recognize all instances of excellence in craftsmanship. If an entry shows merit, it should receive an award.

Yama-Con maintains two classes of awards: Major and Minor. Major awards affect future division placement. These awards are classified as “Best in Show” or “Best in Class.” Minor awards do not affect future division placement. They include any “runner-up,” Judge’s Choice, and non-Craftsmanship based awards.

Yama-Con currently maintains the following major awards:

Best in Show

This award is granted to competitors who have the overall highest aggregate score. Only skill-based entrants who have gone through the prejudging process are eligible for this award. Winning “Best in Show” will impact future division placement.

Best in Class

These awards are usually granted to competitors who have the highest aggregate score in their respective divisions, however; the contest judges retain the discretion to grant the “Best in Class” award to another competitor based on our “Excellence Deserves Award” principle. Only skill-based entrants who have gone through the prejudging process are eligible for this award. Winning a “Best in Class” award will impact future division placement.

Best Up and Coming Cosplayer

This award is granted to outstanding craftsmanship in the Junior/Youth. While this award is designed to recognize a single outstanding youth contestant, all youth participants receive a certificate for participating in the contest. Winning this award will not affect future placement.

Minor Awards

These awards are granted to competitors based on the “Excellence Deserves Award” principle. While contestants may not have necessarily achieved the highest aggregate score in their divisions, judges may choose to grant these award based on other criteria. All contest participants are eligible for minor awards, including Exhibition entries. Winning these awards will not affect future placement.

Yama-Con no longer maintains a fixed list of minor awards.

Entry Guidelines

  1. Only contestants who have submitted their costumes for prejudging are eligible for Major awards.
  2. Contestant costumes are expected to adhere to Yama-Con established Safety and Weapons policies.
  3. Contestants must wear their costume to prejudging
  4. Contestants who are entering the contest under the Exhibition category do not need to submit their costumes for pre-judging.
  5. A contestant who misses their appointment will be rescheduled as time permits. Although we will try to accommodate the contestant, if we are unable to do so, the contestant will be reclassified as an exhibition and will not be eligible for a major award
  6. Contestants are expected to provide some kind of visual documentation for their costume. A reference photo is required for all contestants submitting to prejudging. Progress photos taken during the construction of the costume are not required but are highly encouraged. Contestants who registered for pre-judging online can submit their photos with their application and do not need to provide them again at the convention. It is the policy of Yama-Con not to print out reference photos for contestants. Using an image on a cell phone for a reference is frowned upon but may be considered in extenuating circumstances with the approval of the Director. Due to the use of the reference photos as guides for the judges who may not be familiar with the character, it is strongly encouraged that these pictures be both clear and in color.
  7. Contestants must walk in the Cosplay Contest in order to be eligible for any awards.
  8. Contestants must walk in the Cosplay Contest in the same costume they submitted to prejudging
  9. Contestants are expected to arrive in the Main Event room at the time designated by Yama-Con Staff in order to be placed in the line-up. This is usually an hour before the Cosplay Contest begins. Contestants who do not arrive on time run the risk of not being able to walk during the Cosplay Contest and will no longer be eligible for any awards
  10. Contestants in the Kids/Youth divisions must be accompanied by an adult throughout the Cosplay Contest
  11. Contestants with large and elaborate costumes are welcome to bring a handler with them to assist them during the Cosplay Contest. If a contestant requires extra assistance, a Yama-Con volunteer will be assigned to help
  12. Contestants are responsible for keeping up with their own personal belongs. Yama-Con personnel cannot secure personal items for contestants. They are advised to leave anything of value somewhere safe or with someone they trust.
  13. Contestant costumes must be self-contained as Yama-Con cannot provide any power sources for costumes on stage
  14. Contestants are responsible for alerting staff members or volunteers of any problems they may be experiencing during the contest. This includes overheating in costumes. Contestants will not be penalized for removing part of their costume in the case of an emergency

Dismissal and Disqualification: Don’t Let it Happen to You!

While it is Yama-Con’s policy to try to reach an amicable solution to any challenges during the Cosplay Contest, the department does maintain certain conditions in which a contestant may become disqualified, banned from future competitions, and escorted off of the convention floor.

  1. Contestants who are found to have purposely misled the judges on either the construction of their costume or on their level of experience and skill in order to compete in a lower-division will be immediately disqualified. In the cases where this is not discovered until after the competition has ended, the contestant will be banned from participating in future Yama-Con Cosplay Contests.
  2. Contestants who are found to have presented a commissioned costume or a store-bought, mass-produced costume as a constructed costume will be immediately disqualified. In the cases where this is not discovered until after the competition has ended, the contestant will be banned from participating in future Yama-Con Cosplay Contests.
  3. Any contestant who displays nudity on stage during the Cosplay Contest will be disqualified and dismissed.
  4. Contestants who make profane, political, religious or any other disruptive statements, including through the use of signage or clothing, during the Cosplay Contest will be disqualified and dismissed.
  5. Any contestant displaying physical or verbally abusive behavior to any Yama-Con Staff members and Volunteers, Yama-Con general staff and volunteers, judges, other competitors, or convention attendees will be disqualified, dismissed from the Cosplay Contest, and banned from future competitions. Extremely serious infractions will result in having convention membership revoked and being escorted off the premises.
  6. Any contestant who fires a projectile from the stage during the Cosplay Contest without the expressed permission and pre-approval of the Yama-Con Director will be disqualified.
  7. Contestants are discouraged from performing any acrobatics on stage for safety reasons. This includes but is not limited to flips, kicks, and high jumps. Performing a maneuver that was not approved by the Yama-Con Director may result in a disqualification.
  8. The use of explosive devices are expressly prohibited. The use of one by a contestant will result in disqualification and dismissal from the Cosplay Contest.
  9. Contestants who are visibly intoxicated will not be allowed to participate in the Cosplay Contest. Any contestant found to be intoxicated during the contest will be dismissed and disqualified.
  10. The Director and other executive levels Yama-Con staff maintain the right to dismiss and disqualify contestants for reasons that are not expressly listed here.