The weird and wonderful virtual world of cyber gameplay is celebrated at an eSports competition in Baku, where Dota 2 is played by teams from all around the country, and cosplay enthusiasts dress as their favourite characters
Those not familiar with the online battle arena game Dota 2 would be forgiven for associating this cosplayer’s electric-blue skin tone with the film Avatar. In fact, the piercing chartreuse-coloured eyes we look into belong to the character of Mortred, the game’s Phantom Assassin, infamous for her ability to inflict staggering damage with a single strike.
On this day, however, this armoured hero seems content just posing for photographs and supporting the dynamic atmosphere during the preliminary Dota 2 rounds of the Red Bull Son Cempion eSports competition held in Baku. ESports is the umbrella term for competitive multiplayer video gaming.
The aim of Dota 2, which can last anywhere from a few minutes to two hours, is to destroy an enemy’s tower base in a best-of-three format. Each player chooses their specific hero/character in advance, and the different skills and styles of play they possess ensure that every game contains its own narrative nuances and memorable moments. Indeed, Dota 2 has a widespread and highly competitive scene, with teams playing professionally in various leagues and tournaments all over the world. Premium competitions, such as Baku’s, can pave the way for eventual prize pools totalling millions of US dollars, the highest pot in eSports.
Azerbaijani cosplay actors, like the one dressed as Mortred, frequent events in the nation’s cybersport sphere, adding a great sense of realism and engagement to the mythical worlds being celebrated. They represent a small part of a much larger platform of cosplay enthusiasts in Azerbaijan. More than a thousand attended the AzeCON (Azerbaijan Cosplay Convention) in 2017 – a number that can only grow as more people from the different regions of the country come together to exchange knowledge, experiences and, most importantly, costumes.
Photography by Rustam Maharramov (Instagram: rustammaharramov)
Words by Henry Ludlam-Steinke