Community Effort Orlando is What it Sounds Like
Through the FGC, Alex Jebailey has brought the community of Orlando together through thick and thin.
In many ways, event organization for competitive gaming has become a big business. With thousands of people traveling to big events and turning them into vacations of sorts, it's easy to feel as if many tournaments have turned into conventions of a sort. The larger the tournament, the less grassroots it tends to feel.
With a few notable exceptions.
This weekend, Orlando is host to one of the biggest FGC events in the country, CEO. Standing for Community Effort Orlando, the tournament has been running since 2010, growing exponentially every year. But unilke other events that seem to have grown at the expense of their personality, CEO has continued to be, first and foremost, about the community.
Community Support Orlando
This was no more obvious than after the recent tragedy in Orlando. After the tragedy, many people expressed concern about how safe traveling to Orlando would truly be. But Jebailey would not let that dampen the spirits of those excited to be a part of the FGC this weekend. He immediately took to social media to assure attendees that he would be redoubling CEO 2016's security.
Jebailey’s swift response was applauded by many attending players, but Jebailey saw it as a necessity. “I just had to do it. My event was within two weeks, and the first question on everyone’s mind was ‘Can we feel safe?’ Once I responded, everyone told me ‘Thank you so much, you show that you care.’ And I genuinely do care. I did what it took, and it costed a couple thousand dollars for the extra security, but if it helps people feel safer and have a better time it’s more than worth it to me.”
Always for Orlando
The tournament name ‘CEO’ felt right to Jebailey from the start. In 2010 there was an event that was supposed to happen Orlando, but things didn’t come together, and Jebailey fell into the Tournament Organizer role just three weeks prior to the tournament. The event still did not have a name at the time. “I knew if I was going to name an event I’d want it to be about Orlando.” In a moment of epiphany, the title ‘Community Effort Orlando’ came to Jebailey, and he knew it fit. “The name CEO just works. Every year the community steps up and helps me.”
Jebailey says the community helps him out more and more every year. “This year we have around 110 volunteers. When I first did CEO I did the brackets myself, I ran the stream with one guy, and since then it’s grown into a community thing. It’s not all about me anymore.”
Before CEO got its legs, Florida wasn’t rife with events. “Back in 2010, the communities that were known were California, New York, and Texas. Florida was like the black sheep of the FGC back then.” As a result, many didn’t think an Orlando tournament would gain enough traction to fill up a hotel, but CEO quickly silenced detractors. “The first tournament we had four states come and 300 players, and now we have 45 states and 27 countries being represented at CEO. Orlando is a great spot, especially for vacation. I don’t think moving CEO anywhere else would be as successful.”
While Orlando hasn’t always been a hub for gaming, Jebailey has always seen it as the perfect home. “I have no reason to ever leave Orlando. I went to school here, I grew up here, and I’ve always worked in Orlando. Now, because of CEO and all the other events I get to do, I get to travel, but I always come back to Orlando. It’s a great place.”
A Tournament Focused on Happiness
For CEO, Jebailey’s goal is to make sure everyone is entertained and happy, and he has several elements lined up to accomplish that goal. Once again, CEO will host ‘JabaileyLand,’ featuring tons of arcade cabinets, all set to Free Play, and people can hang out with their friends and play all the arcade games they want in a casual setting. CEO also has it’s infamous wrestling ring that the players compete in, including WWE style entrances for the players that make top 8. “I wanted to add a different element than just a simple stage with two guys on it,” Jebailey says. “And the entrances really worked well. When K-Brad did his, it went viral, with six million views in the first week across all social media.”
Having the entrances also gives extra incentive for players to want to make the top 8 and be on the big stage. “It makes the drive to compete even stronger. I get messages all the time saying things like ‘Man, if I made it to Top 8 of CEO I’d have the best entrance of all time.’”