Gaming entertainment and e-sports organization Faze Clan is taking a unique approach to signing who it hopes will become the next big gaming star: a reality show. The Los Angeles-based company has partnered with yet-to-be-released streaming service Quibi to produce Faze Up, a contest that will see six users of the Quibi app compete to be the next signed Faze member. To participate, contestants will need to subscribe to Quibi when it launches in April.
“Utilizing its interactive mobile technology, Quibi — along with key members of the Faze Clan — will open up one potential spot on the Faze Clan team. Then, Quibi subscribers will uniquely be able to submit a video pleading their case for a chance to join the team,” reads the show’s description. “Quibi subscribers will then vote through the Quibi app for the six lucky people that deserve a shot at gamer glory. From there, contestants will travel to the Faze Clan mansion to go through a series of real-life and gaming challenges, until one gamer — selected by Faze — is left standing.”
It’s an interesting concept that hasn’t really been seen in the e-sports industry. Most professional video game players today are scouted either through the top leaderboards and tournaments of popular titles like Fortnite and League of Legends or they’re already well-known social media personalities with big followings on Twitch and YouTube. From there, an organization like Faze would sign a contract with the player to bring them onto its roster of talent, which can involve being a content creator or competing as part of an established e-sports team dedicated to a distinct title (in some cases, both).
A reality show approach, however, brings a much more dramatic and Hollywood-esque flair to the process that might appeal to a different type of gaming competitor or online creator. The description for Faze Up doesn’t say that potential contestants have to be top-tier in any one game or that they even need to have a substantial social media presence.
So while it’s safe to say potential contestants will likely need to be avid gamers and probably talented in at least one or more titles, being virtuosic at gaming — like current Faze e-sports players — does not seem like a strict requirement. The selection process also appears to depend heavily on the user-submitted videos and the viewer-centric voting, meaning it could be more about having a dynamic personality than exhibiting impressive gaming skills.
“Over the past 10 years, Faze Clan has not only contributed to the growth of the gaming lifestyle and the e-sports community, but we have broken barriers and are not afraid to disrupt the status quo,” said Oluwafemi Okusanya, Faze’s head of content, in a statement. “In 2020, we plan to do the same with content creation and media distribution. The Faze Up show represents our next chapter in content creation with our first premium production effort.”
Like its contemporary 100 Thieves, Faze is as much an entertainment and lifestyle brand as it is a serious e-sports competitor. It maintains six well-funded and talented pro teams across a variety of the industry’s biggest games. That includes a newly minted, Atlanta-based Call of Duty League team that just pulled off a stunning performance in the league’s opening weekend earlier this month.
But Faze also maintains a growing apparel business and has a massive focus on brand deals, sponsorships, talent management, and professional video creation. A majority of the 85 or so official Faze members are not, in fact, e-sports athletes; instead, they’re content creators and influencers. Even rapper Lil Yachty is on the team. As The New York Times put it in a recent Faze profile last November, the company is “the Dallas Cowboys meets Supreme meets MTV.”
In that context, a reality show on a buzzed-about new streaming service like Quibi makes perfect sense for Faze. The company is working with media platform Whistle, which produces sports-related video and other content for various online platforms, to get the show up and running, and the plan is to start the contest with Quibi’s launch on April 6th.