Get To Know Us: The Co-Owners

Hi Keong, Hi Keat, thanks for taking the time to speak with the fans. You guys must be super busy. So, let’s dive right into the questions. Let’s start off with something light.

Can you give us an introduction of yourselves?

Joseph: I’m Joseph Yeoh or Yeoh Keong Shyan. My friends call me Keong. I’m very blessed to be one of the co-founders of Geek Fam, along with my very good friend, Mr. Keat Lim. Together, we wanted to take our passion to the next level and thus created Geek Fam, one of the best Dota teams in South East Asia.

Keat: Hi, I’m Keat. I’m one of the co-founders as well, and I run the day to day management of the team, for the most part, and I’m very thankful for having this opportunity to again bring our passion to life, as we both are huge lovers of the game.

How did you meet?

Keat: We met in university. We played football together.

Joseph: Yeah, we used to play a lot of football together. Keat was 1 year my senior, so I looked up to him for a lot of things actually.

Keat: Especially like in football skills.

Joseph: Hahaha, well now that’s debatable. Definitely in terms of education. I mean he’s very accomplished. He’s got a CFA, and another thing, he was the president of Singapore/ Malaysian association, which I never aspired to. So, yeah we have a great relationship.

Keat: And I remember we used to bring our laptops to each other’s house. We would clear the living room and just sit there and play.

Joseph: This disease infected all of my housemates as well. We converted them to play Dota. So yeah, don’t ask us about any lectures that we attended, I don’t think we remember.

Describe each other in 1 sentence.

Joseph: I think he’s driven, but he’s very balanced as well. That’s a very hard skill to do. Some people can be very ambitious and thus sacrifice other things, but I think what Keat does very well is he balances ambition with family and with friends, so that’s something that’s very admirable.

Keat: I think of Keong as like a guy who has been very blessed and fortunate but still really down to earth, and one of the wisest friends that I have. So I’ve always been very happy to know him, because it’s a unique combination of the person he is.

Do you guys play Dota?

Keat: I started during Dota 1. I think I started Dota 1 because I skipped school. Don’t learn from this kind of bad example. I think I had many bad influences around me. My friends are all bad influencers, haha. Brought me out to play Dota and skipped school.

Joseph: For me I was introduced, actually by my older brother Jacob. He was a big fan of World of Warcraft so I kept visiting his home in London and he would always ignore me. So, we would find something to do, and so I just decided to try this game, and that time it was Dota 1. And as a matter of fact, Keat and I didn’t meet over Dota. It just so happened that we both play Dota in university. As a result, I think that’s one of the reasons why we became good friends.

Keat: it brought us a lot closer, among other things.

Who’s your favourite hero and why?

Joseph: My favourite hero is Abaddon. Number 1, because it really fits my philosophy in life about making sure to always shield and protect your friends and sacrificing yourself, so that you can be revived again to fight another day, but yeah that’s me.

Keat: You should ask about his starting item, hahaha.

Joseph: Hahahaha

Keat: What’s his favourite starting item, the item he buys at the start of all games?

Joseph: A lot of mediocre players would laugh at this but professionals will always agree that we should always have least a ring of regeneration as your starting item. But that’s a very high level play, so I wouldn’t expect Keat to understand. When we win games, they will see that.

Keat: My favourite hero is SF, Shadow Fiend. Because when I play with some friends that I have, who are not as gifted, let’s just say not as practiced, you know it’s sometimes, I have to play mid lane and then it’s like nothing else can carry through. I have to be the one that leads.

Joseph: Some friends allow him to play the mid lane and move off to other lanes to accommodate his ego.

Keat: Some friends are really annoying. When we fork for solo mid, they say they want to take the mid lane and they keep being annoying and keep hitting your creeps. So annoying.

Joseph: I don’t know who you’re talking about.

How often do you guys play Dota?

Joseph: to be fair, before we started Geek Fam, we used to play Dota quite often, as a matter of fact, too often. I think that’s when we started to think about it even more. Instead of wasting time, perhaps we should either be very smart or be very foolish and start our own Dota team, so that we can perhaps monetize the situation or at least try to maybe explore an opportunity which we’ve never done before since we’re both very passionate about it and let’s try that, and I think ever since we started the team, unfortunately we haven’t been able to play as often as we’d like. I think Keat spends a lot of time in the Geek Fam house, just going through, coaching and there’s a lot of work to be done.

Keat: Yeah, in the past we would play so often together. It’s one of the things we do to relax after work. Right now, we have a lot more work. I think the last game I played was around 7 or 8 days ago. It’s inconceivable. In the past I can’t get past a day without playing. But it’s great, I enjoy every moment of it.

What was the inspiration behind starting Geek Fam?

Keat: I think for us, first thing’s first, there’s the passion. Next thing, I think both of us are businessmen in our own right. We looked into the future of eSports and we feel that it’s going to grow massively. And at the same time, we recognise the fact that in South East Asia (SEA), not only SEA but throughout the world, there are some eSports organisation thaht are run in ways that we didn’t appreciate. We prefer to hold ourselves accountable in higher standards and that’s what we set out to do, to fulfil the needs of eSports game.

Joseph: And it’s really about identifying a gap in the market. We looked at our skillsets, we are not gamers ourselves as much as we love to play games, but that is completely different from having your own for example, selling game merchandise, coding or being a professional gamer. So, we wanted to benefit people that perhaps will be taken advantage of with the current system. We identified this gap in the market and we thought we could to something special and something different, and looking at the track records so far of what Geek Fam has achieved, not just Keat but the team as whole, I think it’s almost been a year and we’ve gone from the 7th best team in SEA to almost number 2 or number 1, and we are consistently beating the top ranked teams, and I think the only trajectory is up.

Why the name Geek Fam?

Joseph: We debated this for quite a while. It’s never easy to come up with a name because your name is a microcosm of what your beliefs are and what you stand for. So, when you say “Geek”, does that mean that you think that the co-founders are nerds, or the rest of the team are nerds and geeks? If you call yourself a geek and a nerd, there are underlying principles of that. First off, you’re always humble. So that you know that you’re always willing to learn, you’re not afraid of who you are. So that also shows strength, and it shows passion. We want everyone in our team to understand that, and that humility has to come out. If you come join Geek Fam, we will always need you to be willing to learn, and I think that’s a core principle of ours. Fam, of course, is family, and you will always be part of the family.

Keat: I think that about summarizes for the most part. The both of us, we take pride and owning the fact that we are geeks, its fine.

Joseph: Yeah, and it doesn’t matter how cool we are. Keat and I, he can have a thousand successful businesses, but at the end of the day, when we play Dota, we play with our friends, we’re still nerds. Boys will be boys, and we want everyone to not hide who they are, and be proud of the fact.

In the one year since Geek Fam was started, what would you say are the biggest challenges in setting up an e-sports team like Geek Fam?

Keat: I don’t even know where to start. To begin, it’s about speaking to the players because the players don’t even know who we are and there are trust issues involved as well. They don’t know who you are and out there, there are many teams that are being mismanaged, players not getting paid, players not taken care of appropriatelym so on and so forth. So who is this random dude, starting this team called Geek Fam, trying to get me as a player? That’s what players think when we first begun. That’s a big challenge, and they’re young as well. In certain cases, we have some foreign talent. I mean back then we had Teehee from the Philippines, Velo from Australia/Korea, it’s a matter of fact that they’re travelling from a distance, from another country. And so, when we were unknown, it was a challenge to even start a team. But after that, I would say the challenge is to have a healthy environment of growing and learning within the team.

Joseph: We constantly find out day by day, the number of challenges and I suppose that’s what makes it exciting and fun. Going back to the word Geek Fam, it is a family and we see ourselves as not the best examples of a shining light but I suppose we do see ourselves as leaders who are trying to lead these young men to achieve not just our goals but their goals personally as well. This is something that we do right from the start. We don’t really employ external help. We will make sure to sit down and read with the boys before they sign every contract, make sure they get clearance from their parents, so on and so forth. And then throughout their journey with us, whether they’re on a 1 year contract, 2 year contract, or even a short term contract, meaning 6 months, we will teach them our principles and we will try to make them grow, to be good, admirable young men and share good examples that people can follow. And we know Dota is a growing sport, if not the number 1 eSport in Malaysia. So, when people watch you, whether you’re in a tournament or watching online, or through a Facebook channel, you have to remember that you are the face of Geek Fam and you have responsibilities.

Keat: We say to them as well, when you join us, it’s not about becoming a better player or getting better results in your career, it’s about becoming a better person as well.

What’s unique about Geek Fam are its fans. Can you share with us what do the fans mean to you and how do you think Geek Fam managed to get such a big, strong following in such a short period of time?

Joseph: Number 1, I think this is where the different skill sets come together, as I’ve said before. I’m so blessed to have a partner that understands the social media game along with his team. I think they work so hard to put everything together. You can see Geek Fam from 1 year, has about 65,000 fans which is ridiculous. That is larger than a lot of teams out there already who manage their community well. So that’s something I’m personally very proud of. Yes, we do outsource a lot of this work but that’s because we understand where the finances need to be spent and where they don’t. It’s all about cost management as well as which one of our challenges is. But has our money been spent well? I think so and I hope so. And the way I measure it, it looks like it’s going well.

Keat: I think the big part of this community having grown at such a speed is to a large part due to some of our philosophies and beliefs and how fans are meant to be treated, to be spoken to and interacted with. We want to give fans the best fan experience, thinking about stuff like the day we got our players to play with them. Unfortunately we can’t play with all 60,000 fans, but we’ll always try to do our best, to give our fans the best experience, and I think that was something that when we came together, our partnership was something that we agreed is the path forward for us.

Joseph: And it’s also attention to details. We always have fan interactions such as giveaways, and we’re always spending time to film our players’ birthdays, or watching Thor, something completely different to what we do in our day to day life, whether its paintballing or escape room, so I think that elements makes things interesting and keeps things fresh. Attention to detail as well, such as your reaction time. Facebook also measures how fast you respond to fan queries, and I think it’s within a matter of hours. So that’s something that I’m very proud of.

Where do you guys see Geek Fam in the next 2 – 3 years?

Keat: I think that we have taken the right first step forward in the past 1 year and I think right now, it’s about how we build on this momentum that we have already. There are some plans in the future that will be coming up in the next couple of months. You guys will hear about it. We are really excited and can’t wait to share. In 2 to 3 years, hopefully we won’t be known only in SEA but globally.

Joseph: Geek Fam has been building up their reputation, not just in Dota but also a gaming brand and hopefully we will be able to use that and leverage that to make people venture out into other games as well. As for the current Geek Fam Dota team, would I love to win the TI. I would be very happy with that as well over the next year.

E-Sports seem to be gaining a lot of traction, especially amongst the youth worldwide. What do you guys think will be the impact of E-Sports in Malaysia and South East Asia?

Keat: One good thing about eSports I think to a certain extent, possibly it could keep kids off the streets. I personally know people who channel some frustration through Dota or eSports in general. I know that eSports has brought many friends around the world closer and closer together. I mean, look at both of us as examples. eSports in general I think is a positive influence. Of course you have to balance it with a fairly healthy lifestyle. I believe in a couple of years’ time, it could be perceived as a profitable full time career, just like how football is being accepted in the UK and parts of the world as a proper career, and cricket in India, it’s a huge sport there. I believe eSports is generally going to be accepted as a proper career although some parents are still objecting it.

Joseph: I suppose in terms of a macro view, consumerism is growing especially in Asia, who’s got 55% of the world’s population now. And if you see the amount they consume, whether its offline or online, especially now, more online than anything. The market caps on some of these companies such as Alibaba and Tencent whose actual market cap currently has a stance in 2017 is bigger than traditional players such as Sears and Walmart combined, so you can really see the way online is having an effect and because of this consumerism, it also spread the world of eSports and if you look at the entire business model of egaming, Keat told me that it’s going to be the football/premier league of the future. I don’t even think now will be too late. Not even years will it happen, I think it’s happening right now. And if you don’t enter now and start a team, and don’t understand the model, how to monetize it and start spreading your name, I think the barriers of entry is going to be higher and higher. So I think we took it as a good opportunity to enter now.

Having coached some talented players and watching their careers progress, what advice would you give to those out there who want to pursue a career in eSports?

Keat: Well I think it’s just like any other career. You have got to love what you do, you have to love the fact that you’re getting paid to learn. As long as you remember that, I believe with these 2 things, the sky’s the limit to as much as you can grow.

Joseph: Yeah picking up on what Keat said, I think as we mentioned earlier, you can be a 10k MMR player, and if you continue to remain humble, continue on to wanting to learn, then yeah the sky’s the limit. We have a couple of young players in the team who have really sacrificed and understood where their position is and we have seen them fly with such potential and were really happy for that and we hope their career progresses. Hopefully for the best but we also hope well for other sports teams as well.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules guys, but before I let you guys go, any final words for the Fam?

Keat: I really want to thank the fam for being with us throughout this journey. I know we haven’t produced the most consistent results, there are times where we’ve shown such promise, there are times where we let you guys down, but I must say you guys are really one of the best community that I’ve seen. In the harsh online world, I’ve seen so many teams with erratic results and getting so much criticism thrown to them, but we’ve been so fortunate and so lucky to have you guys stay with us throughout.

Joseph: we couldn’t reach where we are without all the fam and each one of us are a family now. All of our 65,000 fans, hopefully 120,000 next year. So yeah just want to say a big thank you to everyone. Let’s continue to keep the faith.

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