Review by JD
Summoners Con took place the weekend before thanksgiving in Pomona, CA. During the two day con thousands of rioters attended the convention to meet pro players, voice actors/actresses, or just to be with people of their own kind.
The convention was held at the Sheraton Fairplex conference center/hotel. Though I didn’t stay at the hotel, the hotel offered a special rate for con-goers, and when the Sheraton sold out, they offered their guests an alternative hotel, with a complimentary shuttle service.
Whether you drove, walked or took a shuttle, the first thing you saw when you entered the convention were custom League of Legends statues surrounding the entrance. The registration had no printed tickets, and was all based on will call. I expected the lines to move slow, however, to my surprise I spent no more than 5 minutes waiting in line. Upon getting my badge, the staff pointed out the cosplay lounge in case I needed to get out of the main room and relax with other cosplayers.
The actual space of the convention was a little, unCONVENTIONal (sorry, I saw a pun, I went for it). I’ve been attending conventions for roughly 6 years, and this was the first convention that was for one specific game I’ve gone to. There were four main rooms I saw, there was the Challenger room (which only allowed attendees with a “challenger pass” to enter), the Main Stage (where main events and panels took place), the main entrance hallway (filled with people, guests, cosplayers and impromptu photo-shoots), and lastly was the dealers hall/ CSL Stage.
Now, I wasn’t allowed into the Challenger room, as I wasn’t a challenger, but they held special panels about specific lanes (bot, top, mid, jungle), apparently it was cool. The Main Stage was where I spent most of my time. There they held the main events, show game matches, and panels with the actors and artists. Now, this was the most technologically advanced main stage I’ve ever seen. For the panels and show matches, they used two giant TV’s to show what happening on stage or in the match, which was really nice for short people with terrible eyesight, like myself.
The dealers hall was quite small compared to other conventions, I’m assuming it was because they wanted vendors with specifically League merch. There was one actual vendor that I saw selling League merch, and the rest were artists selling their artwork and their crafts. I really enjoyed seeing the focus on the artists, instead of vendors selling overpriced merch to the attendees. Behind the artist’s alley was a meetup area, where you could wait in line and meet pro players and get their autograph and photograph, the lines for that were surprisingly long.
The cosplay at Summoners Con was absolutely fantastic. A majority of the attendees came in intricate costumes that took months to create. These guests braved the 86 degree SoCal weather in ball gowns, body paint and full armor. Though I didn't stay for the costume contest, I do believe that with the quality of everyone's costume, it was a tough competition. The convention itself was extremely cosplay friendly, with a cosplay lounge equipped with safety pins, duct tape, zip ties, and deodorant. Though their dress code did upset some cosplayers and crossplayers, to make sure the convention was family friendly, some cosplayers were asked to put shirts on.
The most amazing aspect of the convention to me was how much technology there was, computers set up for attendees to play League, giant screens set up for viewing major matches, it was very high tech. It was all so fantastic, and really made the convention special for League players.
I thought the con was fun, it was small and at times there wasn’t much to do if you weren’t intensely into League of Legends. The ticket prices were also extremely expensive for a two day convention, the week before the convention they only sold one day passes at $80 each day, which to me seemed pricey for what you got. Saturday was the day to go, if you went at all, that day had the most events and attractions, Sunday was very slow with significantly less people. It was smaller than I imagined, partially because it was very niche, but for those who did go, it was nice to be surrounded by people who understood your "in game lingo".
I would suggest a wider range of events, some to get people to socialize and interact with each other instead of just staring at a screen. It would have been nice to get to know some fans, but everyone seemed to keep to themselves. I would have loved to see a larger dealers hall/ artist’s alley with more variety, but again, it’s all very niche so, I think they did the best they could.