FaZe Clan VALORANT: Burdened with glorious purpose
The trickster: a character in a story who exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and defy conventional behavior. Neither good nor evil, the trickster exists to alter the natural flow of things for better or worse for those around them. They bend the rules, break them sometimes, and disorient their adversaries in the process. More than any other team in North American, FaZe Clan VALORANT embodies the trickster character.
Unconventional and unpredictable, the hero or the villain depending on your outlook. Their results in VALORANT Champions Tour are as perplexing as their playstyle. From looking in from the outside, to being the talk of the town, to going missing altogether.
Of the teams considered top tier in NA, they’ve arguably had the longest break of any team. Their last match was a loss to T1 in the final round of the Challengers 2 qualifier on April 18. It’ll be almost two and a half months since their last match when VCT Stage Three begins on July 1. Long have they prepared and waited to take NA by surprise again. The sun will shine on FaZe VALORANT again, for they are burdened with glorious purpose.
Rise of an ambitious would-be king
FaZe’s first appearance on the NA VALORANT timeline was less a big bang and more of a blip. Back in November, just a couple of months after putting the full roster together, the team burst through the UMG qualifier for First Strike. They handed out defeats to NRG, Andbox, Gen.G, and T1 before finally falling to TSM. In First Strike itself, they fell to future NA juggernauts Sentinels. The team’s Jett star Andrej “babybay” Francisty predicted their inevitable rise though, saying they were going to become the best team in the world.
At the tail end of the first VCT stage, they came awfully close to calling their shot. They blitzed through the bracket of Challengers 3, and did the same in Masters 1. Much like how they ran through the bracket, they ran through opposing teams on the server as well. They used an aggressive style tailor-made for playing against players with heavy CS:GO backgrounds. Between playing it safe or being risky, they always chose the latter, and that decisiveness thrived in the face of indecisiveness from teams like Envy and Gen.G.
Like everyone else, FaZe eventually knelt to Sentinels at the end of Masters 1, despite how badly the team was clamoring for the rematch. FaZe had an army of fans, but Sentinels had a TenZ. But even without the defining win, FaZe’s mission was accomplished; 2nd in VCT points for NA after the first stage, and they were the talk of the region. However, the same level of dominance was not on display in the second stage.
The fall isn’t as hard as it seems
With little time to rest and open qualifiers directly ahead of them, FaZe entered the daunting single-elimination bracket unaware of when the end of their file would be. It would come at the final hurdle, in a qualification/elimination match against Version1. V1 would patiently wait out aggressiveness from FaZe, then punish them with their own aggression late in rounds while taking advantage of a utility advantage.
Version1 gets a lot of credit for this victory, and they should, considering how well they continued to play throughout Stage Two. They took advantage of the post-plant meta exceptionally well, got boosts from a number of clutches, and played calmly without pressure. At the time of this win, this was considered a huge upset, but in hindsight, it’s a much less damning loss on the side of FaZe. If FaZe escaped in overtime on Icebox, maybe we’re not even talking about a V1 run to Reykjavik.
Just a couple of weeks later, they were back in the thick of it in another open qualifier. They ended up falling to a severely underrated T1 in three maps, losing on Icebox and Split while destroying them on Bind 13-1. They actually ended up having the better round differential across the series, but still lost. With that, their time in Stage Two was over. No resurrections this time.
At first glance, quick exits from the open qualifier look really bad from FaZe’s perspective. But when you consider those losses were to the eventual NA Challengers Finals runner-ups and a team of ultra-talented former CS/Overwatch players in a single-elim tournament, it’s not so bad in hindsight.
Now we stand at the present, ahead of the third and final stage of VCT. It’s been over two months since we last saw FaZe Clan in action officially. And now, the timeline has branched into a new reality.
Breeze has been added to the competitive map pool. Price changes to abilities and weapons gave drastically altered in-game economy management. And in the FaZe camp, they’re reportedly moving on from Marved and bringing in sentinel agent player BabyJ. BabyJ has played for a number of pug teams over the past year, including alongside the former Dignitas roster. He primarily plays the sentinel role, rotating between Sage, Cypher, and Killjoy. His presence with these agents can help bolster FaZe’s defense rounds, and shut down lurks during their attack.
With the focus of VALORANT moving more towards gunplay than abilities in Episode 3, several teams will need to alter their style to stay afloat. While the changes and the new agent at first glance appear to benefit former CS:GO players, raw aimers like babybay may end up thriving in the new system. And with the Jett ability costs going up while the Operator cost goes down, his impactful style of Op play might remain unaffected.
Like the rest of North America, FaZe VALORANT is coming off of its lengthiest break yet. With the amount of scrimming all the teams have been doing, the “rust” excuse won’t stand on its own. The team has had to watch newer faces like Version1 and Cloud9 Blue rise and take their place in the spotlight. And if there’s one thing a trickster like FaZe VALORANT hates, it’s someone else taking their spotlight. Looking at the FaZe brand as a whole, nothing would make them happier than beating the rest of NA again with an audience. And fittingly, they may end up standing above the rest, like a god, in Germany.