A finalist set to compete in the upcoming EuroCosplay 2019 competition has been removed from the event after organizers received complaints that cosplayer Alice Livanart was engaging in the racist practice of ‘blackface’ by cosplaying as Pyke, the undead tool of vengeance from League of Legends.

According to French radio network RTL, Livanart first qualified for the EuroCosplay competition after taking first place at the Coupe de France de cosplay, a French cosplay competition held this past September 21st-22nd. Livanart won the competition with the debut of her Pyke cosplay, which cost her over €3000, and her victory earned her the title of French cosplay champion and the honor of being the French representative at the Eurocosplay competition.

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The EuroCosplay Championships are an international event “organised by cosplayers and MCM Comic Con with a strong focus on craftsmanship. 18 countries took part in the inaugural Championships in 2010, and in 2019 25 of the best cosplay crafters from 25 countries across the European continent will take to the stage to try and claim the title of EuroCosplay Champion.”

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However, on October 8th, Eurocosplay announced that Livanart’s cosplay would be removed from the competition due to “concerns regarding the costume” that accused Livanart of engaging in blackface:

The outrage and concern towards alleged racism by the organization seems to be selective, as Irish cosplayer Bambi Lashes was selected to represent Ireland in the competition with a cosplay of the ‘East Witch,’ clearly inspired by traditional Asian cultures, from the art book Fantasy of the Dream by Japanese illustrator Sakizo:

Livanart Responds

Livanart spoke to the BBC about the decision to bar her from competition, “There is a huge difference between blackface and cosplay.” She added, “I am not saying blackface doesn’t exist. I am saying Pyke isn’t blackface.”

She continued, “I made Pyke with all the love I have for that character. He is amazing and I just wanted to be him, because I love him. And that’s cosplay.”

“Pyke is a fictitious character, he doesn’t exist. The only reason he’s alive and walking is because there’s something magic in cosplay,” she stated.

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She would add that the ban did bring her to tears, but she received quite a bit of support that “helped [her] when [she] was down.”

“Some people wrote me messages that really touched me. And helped me when I was down, when I was crying, because I didn’t understand what was happening. “I still have so much support and love, also hate, of course, and now more people know me. I spent €3,000 (£2,700) on Pyke. I made so many sacrifices.”

Livanart did state she would continue to cosplay as Pyke.

“Yes, I am going to cosplay Pyke. I will not let him down, he’s like my baby. I worked too much on this cosplay for it to stay in the closet.”

Fans Show Support

Since the announcement of her ban, Livanart has garnered an outpouring of support across social media from cosplay and video game fans who recognize that Livanart was merely attempting to remain accurate to the source material rather than engage in any form of racism:

Related: Anime NYC Institutes Ban on Cosplays of “Fictitious Nazis or Nazi-Like Organizations”

EuroCosplay has not responded to the backlash they have received as a result of their decision.