MOBAFire Profile: CLG CEO Helen Georgallidis
by DetonatoR July 9, 2012 @ 03:07pm
Hi Helen, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. To start, can you please introduce yourself? What do you do outside of eSports? Who is Helen Georgallidis
Hi everyone and thanks for asking me. I was born in London, Ontario Canada and raised in a very traditional Greek background (think Big Fat Greek Wedding!) I played sports all through High School and my favourite was basketball. I was on a team with our Church Youth Group and we travelled all over in tournaments in the U.S and Canada. I was involved in various community and Church organizations.
You've spent quite a bit of time in the education field before becoming Counter Logic Gaming's new CEO. How did you choose this career path?
I taught at our community Church School and Greek School. When I was seventeen I travelled to Spain for a six week program. Then a few years later I travelled to Quebec for a cultural program and finally when I was twenty I lived as an "au pair" in Paris for a year. While studying to become a translator at a bilingual university, a professor of mine suggested that I apply to teacher's college to teach French Immersion.
Can you walk us through your journey in this field? What sort of experiences have you gotten out of it, any favorite memories or specific moments that have impacted you?
Well, I remember when George hit 20,000 viewers and he was streaming. He said "mom, 20k people are watching me." I was "What? What are you doing that 20k people want to watch you?" And that was the first time I saw him streaming and being "entertaining." I thought "I hope none of my friends from work ever ask me what my kid does for a living." He was such a quiet and well-mannered guy and he got a reputation for being a "rager." Some days I would go in the basement and really yell at him. It wasn't until his grand-parents came over and told him they didn't like his cussing and that they wanted him to be a better role model, that he started to make changes to his "style."
While your son focused more on becoming a hardcore gamer, you've followed a more traditional route. Growing up, though, what were your favorite hobbies? Did you ever get into any video games yourself.
Computers really didn't come out until I was thirty and we got one and George played "alphabet games" on it. I was really busy growing up... I had waitressing jobs, worked at the community, played sports and was always involved in clubs at school. The only video games we played were Pac Man and Tetris back when I was in University.
Going back to your son, we all know him as the famous George "HotshotGG" Georgallidis. However, there was a time at a young age when he was just a regular gamer. Through your own eyes, how did George get involved with video games?
George's dad is a techno-geek and we had tons of electronics in the house. He always had the latest systems, games etc., so he played from a young age. I only had one rule... no first person shooter games until he was a teen. He was pretty good with that and got into role playing, fantasy and adventure games.
When did you find out about George wanting to focus more on League of Legends? How did he approach you to break the news? Can you remember what he specifically showed you to convince you this wasn't him just playing a couple of video games online, but something a lot more serious?
Well, when George left for College, he was enrolled in a computer gaming design program. I had told him that if he didn't like the program or school, to call me and he could come home and we would look at other careers. I wanted him to be happy and passionate about his studies or career path. He called me after a semester and came home. I guess he discovered LOL in his computer class and was hooked. In the summer his grand-father got him a job with a family friend... felt I was too easy on him, letting him sit at home and play games. He lasted a month and then he came to me and said "Mom, my job is interfering with my gaming." He showed me the tournaments he was playing and the small prizes he was winning. I arranged for his cousin to take the job and that's how he became a full-time professional player.
What was your initial reaction to all of this when he first came to you?
I'm a teacher, so supporting students to be successful is my life passion. I had time to travel and do my thing when I was George's age, before going into teaching. I wanted George to do his thing too, so I gave him a year to play and build up his career and business.
Had you heard of eSports or anything remotely close to it, with people playing video games competitively before he came to you?
I didn't know anything about eSports. After WCG 2010, I made it a priority to learn everything I could about eSports and League of Legends. I watched all of George's games and his streaming... although there are many times we argued about his "public persona." I figured that if he had chosen any other career, I would have been supportive so for me, it didn't matter that he chose eSports as a career. I wanted to support his dream to play competitively for a living.
After he came to you, did you research eSports to find out more about it? What did you come across? What was going through your mind as you discovered more about this new world?
After Tencent invested in LOL, I closely followed how Riot quickly expanded globally. I knew that eSports was going to be big. What most impressed me, was Riot and how they created many job opportunities for young people like George. They had internships and promoted people based on their abilities and not necessarily age, or a "piece of paper." I was impressed by how they handled the players back then. A lot of the players were really inexperienced and being so well known, it went to their heads. Their behaviour was so unprofessional, but Riot had Matt Marcou working with them. Some of the players and community behaviours were way beyond acceptable. Matt worked with everyone, and behind the scenes I can tell you he really got lots of "hate" thrown his way. Since, I watched everything very closely back then, I have to give him a big shout-out! Hey, Matt, this one's for you! I know my kid gave you a few gray hairs back then.
Once George got underway with his League of Legends ambitions, he started his Counter Logic Gaming team in April of 2010. Can you describe through your eyes how this team started? What did George have to go through?
George did the team and players himself and I really didn't know a lot about the team back then. I got to know them through watching them like everyone else. Most of my contact came through Jiji who always called for me to go wake George up, if they had a scrim or game and he was sleeping because he had a crazy schedule! George had a crazy schedule. I renovated the basement and he had his own space for his computer, his television, his bed etc. We connected at dinner but we could go for days with me not seeing him.
Check back this Thursday for part 2 of the interview dealing with her role in Counter Logic Gaming!