Nothing can prepare you for joining FaZe Clan, the esports and entertainment brand has unparalleled pull in gaming and any new member of the team becomes a star overnight. That’s why their new initiative, FaZe Academy, was birthed.
The program will see prospective FaZe Clan members thrust into an intensive, but necessary, system that gives a crash course on what joining the team is really like and prepares them for the next step.
From media training to a history lesson in the brand itself, content creators that are scouted will first participate in a five-day bootcamp before taking on a three-month apprenticeship that allows the org to fully assess whether they’re really FaZe Clan material.
With input from current FaZe Clan talent and staff members alike, FaZe Academy is effectively a proving grounds for up-and-coming creators that also allows the organization to ensure they’re signing the right people.
There are plenty of questions that come to mind when one of the de facto names in gaming entertainment decides this is necessary.
Why is now the perfect moment for a new system to be implemented? Will the academy system be strictly for creators or will it extend to their esports athletes? Dexerto spoke with Darren Yan, FaZe Clan’s Head of Talent Management, to delve into the finer details.
A new frontier for FaZe
“The reason why we have an Academy for creators and streamers is that, at its core, FaZe was founded by content creators as opposed to competitors,” Yan told Dexerto. “At the very beginning of our company, it was just kids doing trick shots. Back then, the prerequisite of recruitment was whether or not you can hit the craziest trick shots and that was pretty much it.
“As our organization evolved, the standards for talent evolved and so too did the standards of how we recruit. That hasn’t really caught up at the speed of which the company was growing so this was long overdue in order to really identify who the long-term creators and streamers will be for FaZe.”
FaZe Clan is not a standard esports organization, which is somewhat proven by a recent report from Forbes that states that they only generated 20% of their revenue from esports in 2020. The brand is predominantly made up of content creators and personalities, and thus their recruitment process needs to be predicated on much more than in-game performance.
“When we actually seek individuals to join FaZe Clan, it’s not just about being the best at the game and winning trophies,” he affirmed. “It’s about how we work together so that we’re helping build their career, as well as how they fit inside the organization and help us grow it together. We saw that it’s very hard to really get to know one person just from a simple private message or even watching their content at times, so this Academy allows us to test the waters with each other to say ‘Is there a long-term relationship here?’”
As well as thinking about cultural compatibility, this has to be seen as a means of safeguarding the organization from potential problems down the line. A lot of big content creators don’t have a history in entertainment, they simply love gaming, so they may not know how to deal with the pressure of suddenly finding themselves under the spotlight.
Pressure, as well as a lack of purposeful thinking in regards to how they conduct themselves, could lead to some unfortunate happenings. FaZe Academy also aims to ensure that new members know what they’re getting themselves into and how to deal with their new-found internet fame.
“The program is formed by taking the learnings and experiences of all the current and past members of FaZe Clan — which are a lot — because some people are really not prepared,” he said. “The glitz and the glamour of being a FaZe Clan member often overshadow what the reality is. We now have standards and responsibilities to make sure that we have talent within our organizations that are right for our fans and are growing with the business as well.
“A lot of young kids grow up watching FaZe Clan so it’s not uncommon to see them be involved in the community. We work very closely with minors and their parents hand-in-hand. Mostly, we take the lead of the family and what their status quo is. The way that we also look at it is that there are entertainers of all ages. In traditional sports, you have little leagues before they make it to the big show.”
Creating the perfect system
Despite being so entertainment-led, FaZe Clan still firmly have a presence across numerous esports titles — this includes major titles like Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Rainbow Six Siege. The Academy wasn’t built for this side of the business, but it will indeed inform it.
“Fortunately for us, our esports department is run by Eric Anderson,” Yan said. “He works with the teams individually, but for the Atlanta FaZe, the Call of Duty League provides a lot of [training] to the players as well. For all the other non-franchise leagues, we use the code of conduct by the publishers themselves as well as similar training as we do with our creators.”
Creating a fully-formed program can’t be easy, there is a myriad of aspects of a content creator’s job that may not immediately come to mind such as mental health awareness. You’d also benefit from thinking about potential prominent elements of the profession that may come in the future, too. It was important for FaZe Clan to build upon their collective experience in the industry, as well as calling upon experts from outside of gaming and esports, to devise the programming.
“It was a team of about 10, half of which was comprised of the talent management team, which spearheaded the program,” he told Dexerto. “We have some of our founders involved too, like FaZe Apex who does FaZe Clan History 101. We have NICKMERCS who comes in and does the opening remarks to the Academy. We even have third-party consultants do things like cultural and sensitivity training.
“There are a lot of resources going into this behind the scenes, and our production team is on-site 24/7 capturing everything so there’s a lot of BTS content. When the content is ready to be shown, it will pull back the curtain of what goes into developing FaZe Clan talent. We also have great brand partners to help make the experience a little bit better as well.”
When you think of FaZe Clan, you think of content — and rightly so. With that in mind, it may not be a huge surprise to learn that FaZe Academy will be documented from start to finish. The organization will also take their findings from the program and utilize them to best market, and strategize for, their new recruits.
“The Academy is also meant to prepare FaZe Clan to announce a new signing,” he said. “During the program, while they’re learning, we start strategizing what the announcement looks like, what marketing looks like for the next year, and so on. I’ve really not seen any other organizations put significant resources into marketing individual talent.
“We want to deploy enough resources to set them up for success and every creator is unique. They each require different levels of resources so I think that evaluation in the Academy also sets it apart.”
For now, it’s a case of waiting to see how the new class of FaZe Clan are different from their predecessors but if done correctly then FaZe Academy could well breed a new wave of fully-formed entertainment stars from the get-go. Gaming is not just gaming anymore, it can be as serious as any other entertainment sector.