Toronto Comicon unites gamers, cosplayers and esports enthusiasts
Vanessa Barata's D.Va cosplay at Toronto Comicon
Vanessa Barata's D.Va cosplay at Toronto Comicon.

Toronto Comicon unites gamers, cosplayers and esports enthusiasts

“I feel like I can express myself and just be a whole different character."

Toronto Comicon united gamers, cosplayers and esports enthusiasts between March 18-20. Fans gathered at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to enjoy the fun of a convention and the organizers gave it their all.

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Toronto Comicon and the cosplay red carpet

Attendees walked the cosplay red carpet at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This section of the event featured a long line of people who wanted to show off their craftsmanship in front of fans.

Vanessa Barata cosplayed as D.Va from Overwatch and shared that she enjoys being a tank main. “I really liked designing my headphones,” Barata added. “Because at first, it was a daunting task. I’m like, ‘how am I gonna do this?’ But then I just got some foam, got some spray paint and glued it together.”

There were fans of League of Legends at the Toronto Comicon red carpet as well. The Arcane series on Netflix introduced an attendee to characters from the game itself and inspired her choice of cosplay.

Joselyn Zenvejas's Jinx cosplay at Toronto Comicon
Joselyn Zenvejas’s Jinx cosplay at Toronto Comicon.

“I recently watched Arcane and I’ve been really obsessed with Jinx,” Joselyn Zenvejas said. “I just love the character so much and I love her character design.”

Zenvejas added that Jinx is fun and chaotic, which increased her excitement about walking the Toronto Comicon red carpet. “I feel like I can express myself and just be a whole different character,” she said.

Toronto Comicon and esports

Elsewhere at Toronto Comicon, attendees played fighting games at a dedicated esports corner. Incendium Gaming partnered with the Gaming Stadium to help make this happen.

“We’ve got Super Smash Bros., Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear Strive and all the newest content and DLC for every single game,” Roshawn May from Incendium Gaming said.

“The new game that I’m playing right now is The King of Fighters XV,” May revealed. “I’ve been having a great time playing that. I still play a little bit of Guilty Gear Strive on the side and a bit of Street Fighter V. Those are the fighting games that I’m playing right now. Outside of fighting games, I’ve been getting my butt kicked in a lot of Elden Ring.”

Toronto Comicon attendees at the event's esports section
Toronto Comicon attendees at the event’s esports section.

Attendees didn’t duke it out for titles or a prize pool, but rather Red Bull beverages and some gift cards.  The esports area was made for more casual players, according to May. This was further emphasized through attendees of all ages playing games in the area.

Building up Canadian scholastic esports

Toronto Comicon also had a booth that featured Canada’s first-ever esports prep program. Randy Brenzen and Tennesee Fafard both traveled all the way from Saskatchewan to educate attendees about the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame‘s esports offer.

“It’s an opportunity for high school students from grades nine to 12 to do purposeful practice in esports,” Fafard, the director of esports, said. “A lot of gamers have come up through their parents’ house and have to just practice for hours on end. A lot of parents don’t like that, so the best thing about this is that we give them purposeful practice, which is training that would be compared to higher organizations.”

Fafard added how the program can then help students either get an education at a university or play at a professional esports level.

Randy Brenzen and Tennesee Fafard at their Toronto Comicon esports booth.
Randy Brenzen and Tennesee Fafard at their Toronto Comicon esports booth.

Brenzen, the international enrolment officer, explained how it’s only year two of the esports program and that 2022 will be the first year where they will have its first graduates. He added that in 2021, the program helped introverted students become more open and confident.

“There’s been a lot of personal growth and developments within that year,” Brenzen said. “And we expect them to go on and do greater and better things—whether it’s any esports programs or university and anything like that.”

The esports program features games such as League of Legends, Hearthstone, Dota 2, Rocket League, Fortnite and Overwatch.

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Amy Chen
Amy Chen is an esports journalist and enthusiast who specializes in in-depth interviews and breaking news. A University of Toronto and Humber College graduate, she is passionate about building up the Canadian esports industry. Her current favorite games are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, and she has always had a soft spot for World of Warcraft!