Award-winning cosplayer Aleksandra "Shappi" Tora, AKA Shappi Workshop,walked away with first place at the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2016 cosplay competition. Having spoken with her a couple of years ago at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2014, we were keen to catch up and find out what she’d learned since then as well as more about her incredible cosplays.
ESL: Hi, Shappi! We last spoke to you all the way back in 2014 - what have you been up to since then?
Aleksandra "Shappi" Tora: Hello! Yeah, it has been a while - I have been doing all good, thank you! I have continued creating costumes of various games series. I have been mostly active with League of Legends, SMITE, Fallout, Zelda and such! I did also create a YouTube channel where I show how to make your own costumes.
ESL: You cosplayed as a different Kayle skin at Intel Extreme Masters 2014 - what differences are there between that and this year’s Kayle cosplay and what have you learned since then?
Shappi: I think this year was definitely easier for me since my first Kayle - Battleborn Kayle - taught me so much! I had most of my technical difficulties with this sort of costume sorted out so I just followed the pattern. It was, of course, a totally different style of armor! I had so much fun creating all those details and lines. My most favorite part was the sword, which took the most time. I had decided that I wanted to make the runes on it glow up like when you use skills as Kayle. It was a bit challenging but I was stubborn enough and made it work, haha!
ESL: How long did it take you to make your cosplay in total? What materials did you use and roughly how did you go about it step by step (e.g. armor, weapons, accessories, wig, etc.)?
Shappi: It was about a month of work. I had been working on three different costumes by that time so I cannot really tell how much time it devoured, haha! I mostly used EVA foam for my armor, which made it light and comfortable. The sword was cut out of special styrofoam XPS, carved inside for LEDs which lit up the runes. All gemstones were cast by me out of polyester resin. The wig was styled and made to look as natural as possible with the front lace look. The wings were PVC pipe skeleton covered with hundreds of feathers cut one by one from polyurethane foam.
ESL: We also see you did a Hextech Jannna cosplay - can you tell us a little about that too?
Shappi: It is one of my older costumes, I have learnt so much with it and the costume still evolves every time I wear it. I really enjoy playing Janna and she always was one of my picks to cosplay. Unfortunately most of her costumes are quite skimpy, which is totally not my taste in cosplay, so I have decided on the most covered skin, haha! Now the Forecast Janna is out, I would love to also cosplay her again!
ESL: How did you find spending the weekend in cosplay? Did you manage to stay comfortable and avoid any costume mishaps?
Shappi: It was quite a challenge to survive in my Kayle on Saturday! The armor itself is very comfortable but the wings were a problem - I did not want to hit anyone with them! Overall I spent my day mostly in the backstage area waiting for the contest. That's why I wore Janna on Sunday - I could enjoy the event to the fullest in this comfy outfit.
ESL: What was your favorite thing about being at the event?
Shappi: Atmosphere, that is for sure! I really enjoy Intel Extreme Masters Katowice - every year it is getting better and better! No matter who you are and what you do at the event, when you arrive at the Spodek you can feel this great, positive energy all around. This is the most important gaming celebration for Polish people, and we wait all year long for it!
ESL: What was your favorite match of Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2016?
Shappi: I cannot say I had any favorite, but I for sure will remember the Counter-Strike matches on Friday! They took so long, I felt so bad for both players and casters. They work so, so hard - I hope they could rest a little bit!
ESL: We see you got to meet League of Legends Intel Extreme Masters World Champion SK Telecom T1 - what was that like?
Shappi: It was wonderful! The team were just such cool people - even though we didn't speak much because of the language barrier, they still were interested in my cosplay, asked questions and touched the costume. I was really happy but shy as well! I am really glad we snapped a picture together.
ESL: What were your favorite cosplay that you saw at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice this time around?
Shappi: This year there were so many good ones, it is so hard to choose! I think I was mostly in love with Shyvana, Arcade Riven, Ragdoll Poppy, Pentakill Karthus and Star Guardian Lux from the official ESL contest.
ESL: Do you ever have to make sacrifices in order to maintain your cosplaying hobby?
Shappi: I think all cosplayers do! This hobby is a wonderful passion but it needs a lot of attention, time and money. There are certain situations where I miss meetings with my friends or I lose sleep to nights of crafting. I still feel that is worth it - cosplay brings me a lot of joy and it is my way of expressing myself.
ESL: Can you tell us anything about your future cosplay plans?
Shappi: It is a total blur right now, haha! I am for sure going to cosplay Mercy of Overwatch in the near future. I’m also working on a humanoid Aurelion Sol from League of Legends and various characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender. My plans pop up just when I finish my current projects.
ESL: What sort of things influence your decision to cosplay as a particular character?
Shappi: The design, how I feel about character, if I resemble her with my body type and characteristics, if I can manage to make it with my skills and money... so many things influence my decision! If I really adore one character, I will do anything to cosplay it, though.
ESL: What is your all-time favorite cosplay that you’ve done so far?
Shappi: Such a hard question! I do love all my costumes like a mother, haha! I think the ones I like the most would be the ones I have put the most work in. That would be my Azir from League of Legends, which I wore at Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2015 and Brunhilde from Zangeki no Reginleiv, which was my costume for the European Cosplay Gathering finals in Paris in 2013. It was one of my most complicated costumes to make but it also made me win that contest!
ESL: Have you picked up any more tips you’d like to pass on to any budding cosplayers out there?
Shappi: Every time someone asks me about tips, I encourage the cosplayer to have fun with what they are creating - there is nothing more important than feeling joy from your hobby! It is also very important to not take on too much. If you feel like you haven’t enough time, money or skill to make something huge - let it go! Make the project wait for a better time and you can try making something smaller instead. You will learn new techniques and you can also have fun in a different outfit!
ESL: Thank you so much for your time, Shappi - the final words are yours!
Shappi: Thank you so much for reading! I hope that my costumes will encourage you to take your chance and create cosplay for yourself! Cosplay is a wonderful, interesting hobby which brings so much color to the gaming events. Do not hesitate to join us if you feel like it!
You can check out more amazing cosplay from Intel Extreme Masters 2016 over at the ESL Flickr. For more information about this year's edition of Intel Extreme Masters Katowice, don’t forget to check out our post-event coverage roundup and follow IEM on Facebook and Twitter.
Hextech Janna and WIP photos from Shappi Workshop.