Who Is - Julian Collins, Manager for XD.GG
Julian Collins is spelling out his middle name for me over a good old fashioned phone call. We were originally scheduled to have a Skype call, where the call clarity would most likely be superior, but his mic decided to be uncooperative. Also unfortunate is the speaker phone quality on my Windows phone, making the answers Collins supplies sometimes difficult to hear. My Sony IC Recorder, a little gray rectangular brick that looks as if it predates me, is up for the challenge of documenting what Julian has to say, though.
I met briefly Collins in person at the World Finals. Extremely approachable, outgoing and friendly, he's an easy person to talk to because he loves to talk. Not to hear his own voice, but because he genuinely enjoys the company of others. He's a people person, through and through, passionate about eSports, it's progression, and it's community.
Currently, Julian is reminiscing about how his dad envisioned him becoming a pro baseball player, hence the name “Rawlins.”
“He was like, 'Rawlins rhymes with Collins, Rawlings is a baseball company,'” he says. “'The sponsorships write themselves.'”
His father wasn't too far off with his prediction. Collins did go into sports, just not one of the more traditional ones.
Julian Rawlins Collins, who was originally slated to be Rawlins Julian Collins in case of those baseball sponsorships, was born and raised in San Juan Capistrano, California. What Collins claims is a “small town of 35,000” is actually the southern tip of an immense city-scape. North of San Juan lies miles and miles of concrete jungle. For Collins, San Juan, home to the historic migrating cliff swallows, is home.
“My family has kind of been there since the population of the city was 500.”
Growing up in a small town afforded Collins ample opportunities for a fulfilling family life, full of barbeques and sports. No athletic activity was off limits during these gatherings, and the same goes for school sports. Golf, soccer, baseball, football, basketball … Collins conquered them all, transitioning from sport to sport with relative ease.
College life came a little later, with Collins focusing on film.
“I was working a lot on sets, film sets, trying to network my way in order to get a job in that industry.”
Inadvertently, he was called back to the competitive gaming scene through a mod named Dota. Collins found the game difficult and discouraging at first, stating he died a lot and couldn't quite get the hang of the game. At the insistence, and in the company, of his friends, he continued to play. When Hereos of Newerth arrived, he opted out, citing that the aspect of needing money up front to play was unnecessary. But when he was introduced to League of Legends in late 2010 …
“I got real addicted to it right away,” he says. “First character I ever played was LeBlanc.”
Excitedly, Collins rattles off one of LeBlanc’s combos for me machine gun style, a sort of Pavlov's dog response to hearing the champions name. Level 30 came quickly after his introduction to the game, and it was around this time that Collins had an idea. He loved eSports. He loved League of Legends. He knows how to work a camera. Why not marry the three into something productive for the growing League of Legends eSports community?
His experience with a camera was a huge plus, and Collins quickly found work at his first real League of Legends LAN tourney, the Gigabyte eSports Lan (GESL).
“For lack of a better term, it was a shit show,” he laughs. Instead of handling the more technical side of things such as stream quality, as intended, Collins was turned into a fireman. He ran around the LAN for the weekend putting out proverbial fires.
In the end, it was an overall positive experience. Collins was able to network his way into SoCAL eSports, a group known for their barcrafts, LANs, and viewing parties in southern California.
“It wasn't paid or anything like that, but it was helping push forward eSports in southern California, trying to help grow the community, which I'm all about.”Collins was gaining momentum, and suddenly, the floodgates opened. MOBAFire, Leaguepedia, LCS interviews, events like MLG Dallas and IPL 5 … Collins was everywhere. He was making friends, connections, enjoying the hustle and meeting people, new and familiar, every time. He had done this before in San Juan with his family gatherings. Meet and greet the people, ask questions, catch up, laugh. The difference was that at an eSports gathering, catching up with friends meant an opportunity could present itself.
An opportunity that Collins was invited to take just recently.
“I'm going to be the new XD.GG mom,” Collins jokes.
Instead of throwing the game winning pitch in a baseball game, or even playing in a sport for that matter, Collins finds himself managing a pro League of Legends team. Formerly Team Vulcun, Collins has known the members of XD.GG since late 2012 when he met them at IPL 5. Specifically, he recalls meeting Christina “Gnomesayin” Laird. At the time, the members of Vulcun were actually under the Team FeaR banner. Due to the lack of funds, Collins wasn't able to secure any paid work for the team, but he did ultimately get a break when he took over Gnomesayin's duties one weekend. His ability to step in at a moments notice didn't go unnoticed, and Collins was offered a managerial job for the new XD.GG.
“I'd have to be stupid to turn something like this down, that's what I was thinking to myself,” Collins recalls. “You'd have to be absolutely dumb to turn this down.”
Furthermore, why not manage a team of friends? Collins has known this team for a while. He's gone to movies with them, shot the breeze, and done whatever else friends do. There's chemistry here. Despite that, a working relationship needs to be in place, Collins says. He's a straight shooter. Logical. Precise. Objective. Collins intends to apply his journalistic integrity to his managerial role in order to be fair with his team mates.
“I was talking with mancloud and I was saying how I'm a logical person, and logic is a huge thing for me, and he says 'Yup, you'll fit right in,' and he high fives [me] and walks away.”
It appears he's off to a great start.