Esports company turned Wall Street laughing stock, FaZe Clan, is at the center of another controversy as its members fight over the recent signing of Stranger Things actor and Twitch streamer, Grace Van Dien. Loud members like Nordan “FaZe Rain” Shat criticized the signing as a money grab, while Van Dien said Rain wasn’t even a part of the decision making process.
FaZe Clan, a loosely affiliated blob of esports teams, gaming content creators, and heated gamer vibes, announced that Van Dien was joining the organization on May 25 with a short video showing the Stranger Things actress’ longtime love affair with gaming and transition to Twitch streamer. It was met with derision by some FaZe fans who accused it of being a desperate clout chase by corporate suits raiding the brand to line their own pockets.
The controversy spilled over into the comments. While FaZe Clan members like Santana pushed back, others like Censor, Banks, and Adapt piled on, along with a reaction video by Rain (via Dexerto) dunking on Van Dien’s announcement. “Once again Grace I heavily apologize that you’re kind of in the middle of this,” he said. It continued:
You seem like a very nice innocent girl and I know you have like no part to this and you really don’t understand what’s going on this all outdates you, you have no idea,” he said. “In the acting industry in the music industry in the sports world, bro for every million dollars an athlete or a musician makes there’s an old white guy making 10 times that on top of it, just so you know, that’s how those industries work.
Van Dien responded to the sexist backlash in her own stream. “FaZe Rain said that the only reason I was signed by FaZe was because I was on Stranger Things,” she said. “I’m sorry sir, were you in the meeting with us? Were you there? No I’ve never fucking met you.” Van Dien said that her appearance in the fourth season of the hit Netflix show was what got her the meeting, but it was the discussion that went from there that ultimately convinced the organization to sign her.
Rain, a FaZe Clan member from long before its disastrous attempt to go public last year, has been criticizing the company for months now, saying its made bad decisions, ruined the brand, and just generally sold out. It’s certainly true that the organization has been a mess recently, with a share price so low it’s soon to be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and a series of recently reported layoffs and high profile departures like Snoop Dogg who resigned from the board of directors last month.
What also seems clear is that the organization, constituted of conflicting personalities with a penchant for controversy, drama, and the occasional scam, needs to find new fans in order to grow. With a roster dominated by men, signing more women to reflect the diverse audience of people who actually play games is an obvious move. And Van Dien has been winning plenty of fans since she beganstreaming on Twitch (which she started doing in part to get away from sexual harassment in the film industry).
But where it all leaves FaZe Clan remains unclear. The market for esports is currently crumbling, and previous talks of an eventual $1 billion valuation now seem more ridiculous than ever.