FaZe Clan is a mess. The brand is all edgy money, built on dudebros who wear basketball jerseys pulling off spinning trickshots on Call of Duty, but in recent years there's been huge controversy over its NASDAQ listing and a dispute between FaZe as-is and FaZe as it used to be, with several of the company's co-founders claiming they've been sidelined and ripped-off by the suits. The cherry on the cake? FaZe is at serious risk of being delisted by Nasdaq because its stock price has plummeted from a high of around $20 in August to, at the time of writing, 54 cents a share.
So the videos may be all dollar bills and that swag life, but the reality is that this organisation is in dire need of a turnaround (hell, even Snoop Dogg's abandoned ship). A big part of that is its skeezy public image, with roster members getting embroiled in various scandals and a revolving door of esports related drama, and the widespread perception that FaZe is something of a boys' club. Which is not a good look for, y'know, an actual corporation.
The ugliness behind the brand bubbled to the surface recently when FaZe added the actor and streamer Grace Van Dien to its roster, complete with a well-produced video starring other members of FaZe and introducing her as FaZe Bluefille. Sharing the announcement on social media, Van Dien said: "Ever since my first meeting with FaZe, we shared the same vision in working together to create lasting change for female gamers. We picked each other for a reason and I’m excited to take on an important role to help bring women to the forefront. LET'S GOOOO."
Introducing FaZe bluefille @GraceVanDien | #FaZeUp pic.twitter.com/jjFVILo7BNMay 25, 2023
One might expect that, outside of the inevitable internet idiots, Van Dien would be welcomed with open arms by FaZe fans and members. After all, as well as her various movie and TV roles, most recently in the fourth season of Stranger Things, she's been streaming for some time and FaZe now is as much about the merch and streams as it is competitive esports.
This was not how things played out. Van Dien had unwittingly wandered into the middle of an ugly battle for the future of FaZe, in which former co-owner Nordan 'FaZe Rain' Shat is a key player, and was treated appallingly as a result. FaZe Rain was fired in 2020 and is no longer a part of the organisation but sees himself as battling for the soul of the company against the suits, and despite not being a current member is in open war with the company's executives—most recently posting a video with company financials. Rain notably styles FaZe as "a brotherhood" and, in a nutshell, is implacably opposed to the kind of brand extensions and celebrity partnerships that, he would argue, includes the likes of Van Dien.
His disdain initially found expression in that most contemporary of forms: A reaction video. FaZe Rain posted his reactions to various moments featured in Van Dien's announcement video, and rather brutally mocked her (in particular her line that joining FaZe was like "coming home").
If we put the childish elements of the video to one side for a moment, Rain's point, such as it is, is that Van Dien lacks the gaming credentials and knowledge to bring anything of value to FaZe. He was not alone in that opinion, with other FaZe members including Adapt, Censor and Banks joining the chorus, along with a whole legion of FaZe fans who saw where the wagon was heading and jumped gleefully on-board.
However, Rain doesn't so much step over the line as completely ignore it, and says several things that go beyond the pale. Rain says Van Dien was "probably playing with Barbies" while he was establishing FaZe and "making my first million in this industry", before declaring that she is "excruciatingly mid" and someone who he would "never let touch me on my drunkest night".
Van Dien responded with a jab about Rain overdosing on stream, referencing his public struggle with prescription drugs (in his words, "benzos and opioids"), which is where the wheels really came off. After a public back-and-forth online, Van Dien and Rain agreed to meet in-person, and in that encounter she admitted the overdose comment went too far but challenged Rain about various previous public statements and aspects of FaZe. Rain accused her of being emotional and not being able to take a joke; as the encounter gets increasingly unpleasant, Van Dien calls him a "terrible person" and leaves the room in tears.
On the way out, Van Dien says if the video is made public she'll leave FaZe. Ignoring her warning (or perhaps welcoming it), FaZe Rain uploaded the video, interspersed with his own comments. That video can be viewed here, and below is the unedited clip subsequently posted by Van Dien.
This is some horrible stuff, and Rain's own reaction video to it makes it quite clear that he's fully aware of what he's doing. At one point as he begins accusing Van Dien of causing him to consider suicide and leaving his mother without a son, he pauses the exchange to say "I'm an actor too, bitch." Rain continues in this aggressive vein for another 30 seconds or so before Van Dien gets up to leave the room, at points audibly sobbing.
There is more to these exchanges, and Van Dien fights back against Rain's overly personal and misogynistic aggression, but the truth is that Rain is and has been on the warpath against FaZe for some time, and Van Dien is simply his latest target. As the argument progresses the goalposts keep on shifting and, of course, many FaZe fans have taken Rain's side. Van Dien attempted to counter Rain's assertions but, unfortunately, was in one of those situations where anything she did say was bound to make it worse.
It is indicative of the state of this organisation that Van Dien was hired to help FaZe's public image with women, and this has so quickly descended into personal insults, misogynistic commentary, and mockery of her gaming knowledge. Van Dien subsequently locked her Twitter account (it's public again now) and has removed any mention of FaZe Clan from her bio.
"FaZe is no stranger to contrasting viewpoints and passionate opinions on the future of the brand," said a statement from the official FaZe account on May 31. "Recruitment has always drawn that out. But make no mistake, the mistreatment of our newest member is in no way OK. Grace joined in hopes to bring her voice to FaZe & we stand by her."
Two founding members of FaZe Clan responded to this. "You guys have lost the fucking plot," said FaZe Banks. "A long long time ago," added FaZe Temperrr. But they're not on the side you might think: They're with Rain. It is clear from other comments that this is less about the specifics of the Van Dien situation than the ongoing battle between some FaZe founders and FaZe as it is now. When asked what happened to FaZe, Temperrr said: "We haven’t sold anything. Haven’t made a dime off our shares. Corporate skull fucked our brand, squeezed every last drop imaginable & is continuing to repeat that same process".
I contacted FaZe Clan to clarify whether Van Dien remains a part of the organisation: Rather oddly, they didn't answer that fairly simple question and pointed me back towards the above statement, adding it didn't have "any further info to share at this time". I've contacted Grace Van Dien's agency and FaZe Rain directly, and will update with any response.