Whenever FaZe Clan comes up nowadays, chances are it’s usually accompanied by talk of what social media milestone a particular member surpassed or how the team is leading the esports space.
However, when Eric Rivera – also known as FaZe ClipZ – started FaZe back in 2010, it was all for fun. The triumvirate of ClipZ, FaZe Housecat and FaZe Resistance started the clan while playing “Search and Destroy” (SnD) on Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) on the Xbox 360, all while trying to get a nice “trickshot” for the final kill.
“We started the YouTube channel and from then, it blew up,” ClipZ said. “We were one of the early gamers on YouTube that were posting content – especially consistently – and the type of content we were doing with Call of Duty.”
We at Syft took this interview to sit down and learn about “ClipZ,” the man who started perhaps the largest esports organization in the world. From spending his days trickshotting to being a content creator for FaZe, ClipZ has been in the game longer than anyone else, all while putting up sick clips.
ClipZ said FaZe was born from the passion and creativity of “some gamers.” For ClipZ, that passion started when he played Super Mario on the Super Nintendo as well as Goldeneye 007 on his aunt’s Nintendo 64.
Though FaZe is known for its Call of Duty content, it was during his days playing Halo 3 that ClipZ was first introduced to competitive gaming via one of the game’s playlists labelled “MLG,” or Major League Gaming. In this playlist, players competed against others who had the same rank as them and, as their standing increased, so would the skill level.
“I would search up on the internet different tournaments and stuff like that,” he said. “That inspired me to create my own content and try to compete with myself in Halo.”
Thinking of a way to join the competitive space, ClipZ, Housecat, Resistance and FaZe Sabastian discussed potential names for the team while playing SnD in MW2. The group cycled through a few names including “HaZe” before eventually settling on “FaZe.” Though the clan has grown to be synonymous with an ever-growing lifestyle brand, ClipZ first chose “FaZe” simply because he thought it sounded cool.
“There wasn’t really too much thought,” he said. “There wasn’t a specific meaning; it really just was something I thought was aesthetically pleasing when I put it in my clan tag.”
ClipZ’ journey with FaZe wasn’t the easiest. Soon after signing a partnership with Machinima in 2011 to make paid gaming content, ClipZ’ Xbox 360 “Red Ringed” (Malfunctioned to the point of warranting a replacement from Microsoft.)
“I had to step out of the scene,” ClipZ said. “My family didn’t believe that I can make money from video games and we weren’t in the best financial spot at the time.”
Because his family couldn’t afford a new Xbox, ClipZ focused on schoolwork instead and graduated high school in 2013. For the next four years, he worked different jobs including tech support for QuickBooks, admissions support for a college and ground work in a casino.
During his hiatus, ClipZ rediscovered FaZe in 2015 after one of his younger cousins brought it up at a Christmas party.
“Me and my cousin are talking about how we used to play Call of Duty and the FaZe stuff,” he said. “His little brother hears us, and he starts freaking out about FaZe and starts talking about all these different members, about this house, this guy named ‘Teeqo.’”
Surprised, ClipZ researched FaZe and, to his amazement, the clan had grown much bigger than he could have imagined. As such, ClipZ made a video talking about how he first started FaZe as well as its history.
After the video released, FaZe reached out to ClipZ and flew him out to the FaZe House in New York to make a video, re-introducing him to a new audience. Now that ClipZ is back with FaZe full time, he said it’s a “blessing” to be part of something that has “such a positive impact in the world.”
That impact is not lost on ClipZ, though. As a content creator of color, he’s looking for ways to give other content creators an opportunity, especially as someone who grew up with financial difficulties.
“I like to make sure that I do my best to make sure everyone gets a chance to be seen or heard with my platform,” he said.
Since FaZe is one of the most influential esports organizations in the world, ClipZ agrees that it’s important to discuss uncomfortable subjects and be honest about how it affects everyone. He feels that holding people accountable is a way to help curb gaming’s toxicity, and he is no exception.
“I’m the first person to say when I’m doing something wrong,” he said. “I know that everyone in FaZe likes to hold themselves accountable, keep it real as well.”
Back to FaZe, ClipZ says it wasn’t only Goldeneye 007 and Halo 3 that influenced ClipZ when he created FaZe Clan: he had an affinity for skateboarding, pop culture and music, especially since he grew up during the transition into the internet era. All those factors played a part in creating FaZe.
Now that FaZe has grown into a brand that incorporates each of the aforementioned aspects, ClipZ credits the Tony Hawk series as one of the main influences in his life, with Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland standing out as his favorite game in the series.
ClipZ also credits Ninja for “pushing the envelope” in helping merge gaming with different industries, especially since Ninja’s popularity helped pave the way for musicians such as Travis Scott and Marshmello to appear in Fortnite.
ClipZ can’t believe how expansive the clan has gotten and it leaves him “speechless.”
“There’ll be days where I even have to take a step back,” he said. “Life just doesn’t feel real, especially with everything going on. I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘I did that. It’s amazing.’”
ClipZ says that even if someone is afraid to fall flat, they should pursue their dreams. To him, everything “amazing” that’s happened in his life is the result of him feeling scared to do something yet doing it anyway. For ClipZ, those times have had “the most successful outcomes,” as evidenced by his success with FaZe in the past.
Though ClipZ is focused on the present, he says that FaZe’s growth is limitless, especially now that the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League have their own Call of Duty franchise: the Atlanta FaZe. He feels that FaZe can start their own league or some sort of organized competition – similar to other leagues and sports – in the future.
ClipZ is planning to move into a content house with four or five other creators and start live streaming gaming on TikTok. He’s one of the few with access to stream gaming on TikTok and hopes to help it grow.
Looking back, ClipZ says he wouldn’t change anything because he believes everything happens for a reason and he’s grateful for all he’s learned.
“I learned to appreciate passion … I’ve learned to have drive,” he said. “I learned to have purpose, move with purpose [and] move with good intention.”
At the end of the day, ClipZ doesn’t just think of FaZe as an esports organization – he sees it as a lifestyle.
“It’s that mindset that they can achieve their dreams,” he said. “They can be the best that they can be [when] they wake up, that they’re better than the day before.”
“They wake up, they ‘FaZe’ up. Anything like that [is] so cool,” ClipZ concluded.
We at Syft wish ClipZ nothing but the best in his future endeavors and can’t wait to see what amazing clips ClipZ will post up next.