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Cosplay Expo Rules

This is Ohayocon’s formal cosplay contest for Craftsmanship and Performance that is held over the first two days of the convention. There are SIX (6) separate cosplay competition categories: Expo-Craftsmanship, Expo-Performance, Lindsay Look Alike, Original Design, Universal Cosplay, and Hallway.

Registration is REQUIRED for all categories EXCEPT for Hallway.

Before registering for any category, please take some time to review the Cosplay Rules and the following documentation.

There is only ONE (1) entry per participant for Craftsmanship and Performance competitions. However, a participant can compete in BOTH Craftsmanship and Performance provided that their entry falls within both competition’s guideline.

Maximum number of members to a single group is SIX (6) people. If a group has more than 6 members, they may petition a Cosplay Coordinator to allow the group to compete.

At least 60% of the costume/fashion entry in any category of the Craftsmanship competition should be handcrafted by the participant. Modifications to purchased/commissioned costumes will not constitute an original work and do not qualify for the Craftsmanship competition.

No commissioned, purchased, or rented costumes. Costumes from a costume shop, designer direct, eBay, Yahoo Auctions, Cosplay, or any other store-bought costumes are prohibited and will negate participant’s eligibility (or group’s eligibility, even if only one participant in the group has a disqualified costume) in Craftsmanship.

  • Exception 1 – The costume’s creator is present (the creator wins, not the model). However the creator must be the owner of the costume, not the model.
  • Exception 2 – Junior Division participants must have handcrafted at least 50% of the costume
  • Exception 3 – If competing as a group and the creator is part of the group.

Craftsmanship is judged BEFORE the Expo. Awards and certificates are presented at the end of the Expo.

Performance is judged during the Expo. Awards are presented at the end of the Expo, certificates at the feedback panel.

Craftsmanship Awards

Best in Show
Best Lindsay Look Alike
Best Original Design
Best Universal Cosplay
Best in Division – Master
Best in Division – Journeyman
Best in Division – Novice
Best in Division – Junior

Performance Awards

Best in Show
Best Musical Act
Best in Division – Master
Best in Division – Journeyman
Best in Division – Novice
Best in Division – Junior

Craftsmanship and Performance Divisions

GUIDELINES to follow when deciding which division to compete in:

  • Junior – Junior division is solely reserved for participants 15 years of age or younger regardless of awards or skill level. They may have won any number of awards & made any number of costumes (Craftsmanship) and/or Performances (Performance). An entire group must fit this criteria to enter as Junior.
  • Novice – Ages 16+. You may have won up to 2 Major Awards, or won up to 5 Minor Awards. You have possibly made 5 costumes or fewer (Craftsmanship) and/or created 5 performances or fewer (Performance)
  • Journeyman – Ages 16+. You may have won up to 4 Major Awards, or won up to 10 Minor Awards. You have possibly made 9 costumes or fewer (Craftsmanship) and/or created 9 performances or fewer (Performance)
  • Master – Ages 16+. You may have won up to 6 Major Awards, or won up to 15 Minor Awards. You have made 11 costumes or more (Craftsmanship) and/or have created 11 performances or more (Performance)

Major Awards are considered Best in Show, Best in Division, or the like.
Minor Awards are considered Honorable Mention, Merit Award, Judge’s Award, and the like.

Only awards won in a formal convention competition count. Craftsmanship Awards count for Craftsmanship Competition Only. Performance Awards for Performance Competition Only.
Awards won in a Hallway Contest and/or awards won at events (i.e. clubs/organizations, stores, 1-day mini-conventions, etc.) are NOT counted.

NOTE: If you placed as ANYTHING except Honorable Mention at WorldCon or Costume-Con, you MUST compete in the Master Division. In order to be fair, we ask cosplayers to account for BOTH awards and skill level (use the number of completed costumes as a guide) when making decisions regarding divisions.

To allow participants who have not won anything before a chance at an award, participants may NOT compete with a costume that has previously won any Major Award at any convention.
Participants may compete in a Division higher (i.e. Junior can compete as Novice), but cannot compete a Division lower (Novice 16+ cannot compete as Junior).
You cannot compete in a division lower than you have already won an award in. If you have won a Best in Division – Master, you cannot compete as a Journeyman, even with 1 Major award.
If participants in a group are Novice, but one participant is Master, the group must compete in the Master Division.

If there are any questions regarding Divisions or you cannot decide which Division to compete in, please contact a Cosplay Coordinator.

The Competition Categories


This is the main category of the Craftsmanship Competition that participants will enter and are judged on the craftsmanship (design, construction, execution, and general presentation) of a costume. Participants will also be in the Fashion Show during the Ohayocon Cosplay Expo.

Pre-Judging IS required.

Participants will enter as an Individual or Group competing in one Division.

Costumes or fashion entries must be Asian Origin or Asian Influenced (see below).

  • Asian Origin – Entry is from literature, show, movie, music, or game that had its original release in an East Asian country.
  • Asian Influenced – Entry is from literature, show, movie, music, or game that is, in its original concept, heavily and blatantly inspired by or set in East Asian culture. This includes story, characters, and/or art style being derived from an East Asian basis.

Fashion entries must be prominently worn or originated in an East Asian country (IE: traditional Japanese, Chinese, Korean street, casual, or formal wear, Lolita, and/or armor). Hot Topic Lolita does NOT qualify for competition & Western Goth styles are NOT in line with Gothic Lolita or Elegant Gothic Lolita/Aristocrat.

NOTE: Re-imagining of established characters from western literature, shows, movies, music, or games in an East Asian style do NOT qualify as Asian Influenced for entry in the Expo-Craftsmanship or Expo-Performance categories of the Ohayocon Cosplay Competition and only qualify for Universal Cosplay category.

If a costume or genre rides the line you may petition the Cosplay Coordinator for an exemption. Occasional exemptions have been allowed- but are not the rule. Please contact a Coordinator as far in advance as possible.

Original Design

This category of the Craftsmanship Competition allows participants to be judged on the craftsmanship of a costume that is of their own original design. Participants will also be in the Fashion Show during the Ohayocon Cosplay Expo.

Pre-Judging IS required.

Participants will enter as an Individual or Group and will be judged on the overall craftsmanship, regardless of age or skill level.

Original design entries must be Asian Influenced.

In order to understand the overall look references showing the style or inspiration, these creations are still required to have reference pictures. Design sketches are appreciated

Lindsay Look Alike

You’ve had your chance to see Lindsay Howard, Ohayocon’s cute nurse mascot. Now we want you to be Lindsay. This year Ohayocon will host its annual Lindsay Look Alike! You can enter no matter your age or skill level!

This competition will take place on Friday and the winner will be introduced to Ohayocon during the Expo.

Judges will nominate the top three (3) for the final Judging. Please be sure you are available. Exact times will be available before the convention begins.

The winner will receive a convention admission and a prize, as well as the bragging rights to be Ohayocon’s official Lindsay Howard!

Universal Cosplay

The newest category added to the Ohayocon Cosplay Competition, the Universal Cosplay is an open theme category where participant’s entry can be from any source that does not fall into other categories of the Craftsmanship Competition. The only stipulation is that the entry must be acceptable by the Cosplay Rules standards.

Universal Cosplay is the only Pre-Judged category that registration is AT CON ONLY.

Pre-Judging appointments for Universal Cosplay will take place on Saturday, the number of available appointments are limited and are on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED basis. So register as soon as possible!

Participants will enter as an Individual or Group and will be judged on the overall craftsmanship, regardless of age or skill level..


This is an informal contest where judges circulate the hallways Friday evening and Saturday before the Expo and hand out awards based on general presentation, craftsmanship, and likeness-to-character. Winners are given an award ribbon.

Registration is NOT required.

This contest is open to everyone, regardless of how many awards have been won or costumes made. Attendees may only win once per costume, but the same person may win multiple ribbons for different costumes.

Any well done Cosplay (Eastern or not) is eligible for Hallway Awards.

The Hallway Competition will have a “register your win” list at Cosplay Registration for anyone who would like to have their name listed on the Ohayocon forums as a winner.


This is a contest where participants are judged on their physical performance (artistic presentation, technical skills, charisma, entertainment, script quality, and overall performance).

Registration, approval, and audition IS required.

Performances are to be three (3) minutes long. There are NO exceptions to the rule. If the audio file is longer than 3 minutes, it will be stopped when time is reached (even if it cuts the performance). Participants will have up 30 seconds to set up/enter and 30 seconds to break down/exit (This is in addition to the 3 minutes for performance).

There are two types of performances, Skits and Musical Acts:

  • Skit – Performances that focus primarily on the delivery of lines (pre-recorded or live) and are not predominantly music based.
  • Musical Act – Performances that more than 75% based on pre-recorded music (i.e. lip-syncing, music video recreations, dance routine, etc.) and have a minimum amount of lines delivered before, during, or after the musical track.

The Ohayocon Expo is the Main Event of an all-ages convention with very young congers in attendance, so your actions and speech must reflect accordingly.
The rating of the material in the performance should not go much over PG/TV PG bordering on PG-13.
Actions, dress, or mannerisms that would not be allowed on a public street must be avoided. Specifically, the following must be avoided: explicit sexual gestures, nudity, and explicit swearing (i.e. Seven Forbidden Words of TV).
Think about your material as such: if you cannot perform it for a first grade class or your grandmother’s friends, you probably need to tone it down.
Violating these rules will disqualify you and possibly result in being escorted off the premises.

Feel free to surprise the audience, but not the Cosplay Staff. If you are planning something “unique,” you must petition the Cosplay Coordinator IN ADVANCE to get it approved.

Music and/or prerecorded dialogue will be required at your appointment time. CDs are the ONLY media accepted. All CDs must be clearly labeled with participant’s Registration Number, Name of Performance, and Time (Length of File in MM:SS). Bring CD in a clear case with no labels (other than label on CD). CDs are NOT returnable. CDs will NOT be queued. The music and/or pre-recorded dialogue must be ready to go as soon as it is put the CD player (this means the participant must edit the music and/or pre-recorded dialogue before the convention and put it on a CD). Audio file must be exactly three (3) minutes or less. Please have files recorded exactly as you wish them to be played. No cueing or editing will be done by the Ohayocon Stage Crew. If the Ohayocon Stage Crew receives CDs that violates the guidelines, the participant(s) will be disqualified. It is suggested you bring a backup CD in case problems arise.

Pre-Registrants must submit a copy of the audio file for review electronically via email if there are questions as to suitability, but are required to bring a final CD for use to their appointment. This also insures we have a copy of your audio file on hand in case there is an issue with your CD.

Any introduction to be read by the Emcees will be limited to 50 words or less. All narration by the Emcees will be read prior to performance. Interaction with the Emcees is prohibited. Emcees may NOT be involved in any way with performance. Introduction must fit on a 4×6 index card and typed or neatly handwritten. Participants may discuss their introduction with the Emcees at the time of their audition appointment. Also inform the Emcees if your pre-recorded dialogue or music either begins before you enter the stage or continues after you exit. Failure to make this notice may result in audio problems during the rehearsal or performance.

All weapons must be cleared. For more information, please read Cosplay Rules.

In the interests of safety, stage combat is severely restricted. All prop weapons must be used with extreme caution and never used in a manner that may cause injury to another. No projectile weapons will be permitted. No throwing objects (even soft ones) into the audience.

All stage combat and stunts must be cleared. If you intend to use any martial arts, falling techniques, gymnastic talents, etc., you must petition the Cosplay Coordinator IN ADVANCE to get it approved.
If it comes on stage, it must leave the stage. Confetti, rose petals, glitter, etc. will NOT be permitted. Fire, flash powder, lasers, explosives, or open flame of any kind will NOT be allowed. Strobe lights or other flashing lights are NOT permitted.

All presentations must be confined to the stage area. You must use the designated entrances and exits. No jumping off the stage will be permitted (doing so will result in disqualification) and audience members cannot be brought on stage. The aisles and other audience areas are not to be used for any part of the presentation.

If you break a piece of equipment, deface the facilities, or cause any other damages, then you will pay to replace what you damaged. No exceptions.

Be aware of floor microphones, cables, speakers, curtains, screens, etc.
Cosplay Coordinator or Stage Manager has the right to cancel your performance at any time for any reason.

Registration and Appointments

BEFORE registering, please read all the documentation. YOU are responsible for reading and understanding this information. If you have questions regarding any of this, please contact the Cosplay Coordinator.

Craftsmanship and Performance Competition participants MUST register for pre-judging/audition appointments. There are a LIMITED amount of registration slots available. It is HIGHLY encouraged that participants PRE-REGISTER online.

There is no registration for Hallway Competition.

Online Pre-Registration is open September 1st – December 31st. All Pre-Registration Forms MUST be received by before 11:59PM EST on December 31. Links to the forms are available on the Ohayocon forums and the Official Ohayocon Group on Facebook.

Participants may compete only in two Expo competitions – Craftsmanship and/or Performance and one division – Junior, Novice, Journeyman, or Master.

Participants will electronically submit a Cosplay Registration Form. Once a form is received, an email will be sent with Registration Number. Next, registered participants will be asked to select an appointment time slot.

A final email will be sent containing Registration Number, Registration Day, and Appointment Time. You are not considered registered until an appointment time has been set and confirmed. To access Registration Forms, please use provided links. If links are not working please email the Cosplay Coordinator.

You MUST have already registered and selected an appointment time before the Convention.

Please check in at Cosplay Registration AT LEAST 10 minutes before your appointment block starts.

  • Craftsmanship and Performance appointments will be scheduled on Friday (TBA) and Saturday (TBA).
  • Craftsmanship Individual entries will have a 5 minute judging period.
  • Craftsmanship Group entries will have a 10 minute judging period.
  • Performance entries will have a 10 minute audition period.
  • Some Reschedules/Changes are allowed during pre-reg, but please don’t abuse this.

After your pre-judging/audition appointment, you will receive your Competition sticker and Back Stage Admission.
Handlers/Gophers must be present any handlers or gophers must also come to Cosplay Registration with the participant(s) they are assisting at time of appointment. Handlers/Gophers will receive a non-participant Competition Badge Sticker.

Please e-mail cosplay.ohayocon@gmail.com if you have any questions or issues regarding Cosplay Pre-Registration!

The Pre-Judging Process

Participants will have will have a set amount of time to interview with a panel of judges experienced in sewing, wig styling, and prop making. Individual entries will have 5 minutes (4 minute interview & 1 minute deliberation) and Group entries will have 10 minutes (8 minute interview & 2 minute deliberation).

During the interview process, the judges will get close and go over your costume/fashion entry while inquiring about your crafting process, techniques, and materials used. During this time, try to have your responses quick and concise in order to make sure you can cover as much about your entry as you can.

Participants for Craftsmanship MUST be in full costume and are REQUIRED to bring adequate printed reference documentation the Judges can hold, see and compare for their pre-judging appointments.

Good references show (at the very least) the front and back, but side views are highly recommended as well. They may also have close ups of details and props. Examples of references include: screen captures, DVD covers, art books, PVC figurines, magazine articles, manga, color printouts, etc. No outlets will be available for laptops and no computers will be provided. Please come prepared. Lack of reference documentation WILL result in a 0 score in the Presentation judging area.

Once time is called for the interview, you will leave the judging area for the judges to deliberate your final score in private.

The Audition Process

In order to encourage high quality performances for the Expo, Ohayocon has implemented an Audition process for the Performance competition.

Participants do not need to be in full costume at the time of their appointment, but all props must be present during the audition. Participants will be expected to perform exactly as they intend to at the Expo.

Auditions will 10 minute appointments. All participants will be permitted to perform their entire skit at that time and to present the Emcees with an Introduction.

Because the Cosplay Coordinators want you to put on the best performance you can, private feedback will be available after the audition to let you know of some key points the judges will be looking at during the Expo.

A list of selected performances (up to 20 on the main list and 2 on the standby list) will be posted by the Cosplay Check-in desk approximately 2 hours before the call for the Expo.

If your name is on the list or the standby list you are expected to be at call ON TIME. Failure to show for call will result in your spot being given to the next name on the standby list.

If you are not willing to participate in the audition process and accept that your skit may not be selected for the final Expo Performance, please do not register.

The Cosplay Expo

Craftsmanship Call is at 5:30 PM on Saturday. Doors will be locked and no participants allowed after 5:35 PM.

Participants failing to arrive will NOT participate.

Craftsmanship participants are welcome to show up at 4:30 PM to watch the Performance Rehearsal. This is encouraged, because Ohayocon cannot 100% guarantee that Craftsmanship participants will be able to view any/all of the Performance part of the Expo.

Performance Rehearsal is at 4:30 PM on Saturday and is mandatory. Doors will be locked and no further participants allowed after 4:35 PM.

Participants failing to arrive will be DISQUALIFIED.

The Selected skits will be notified at their audition or by a list posted at Cosplay Registration approximately 2 hours before call time (approx. 2:30 PM) Please check there to see if you are required to report for call. If you are not selected please DO NOT attend the call. You may discuss any issues with the Cosplay Staff at the Recap and Photo Panel following the Expo. Please understand the Staff will be unable to address your issues until that time and if you are not supposed to be in the area Security can and will remove you. We are offering unselected Performance participants priority seating for the Expo. You may pick up a voucher at the Cosplay Registration when the list is posted until 4:30 PM. Vouchers will not be available elsewhere or after that time.

Feedback Panel

The Feedback Panel will happen Sunday Morning, time & location TBA. At this panel we invite participants and attendees to join us in presenting our winners of the Performance competition with their certificates, to provide the Cosplay Staff and Judges your feedback about aspects of the event that you liked and aspects you feel need some improvement, and hear feedback about performance directly from the Performance Judges, while Craftsmanship participants receive a one-on-one feedback session with our Craftsmanship Judges.

Last updated July 31, 2017

Ohayocon, the Ohayocon logo, and the Lindsay Howard mascot are trademarks of Ohayocon, LLC. All Rights Reserved.