FaZe ZachaREEE: “I think we are mechanically solid, we just need that fundamental stuff and we’ll be good”

The FaZe VALORANT team believes they'll continue to improve.

VALORANT’s First Strike: North America tournament allowed the top eight teams to compete for a chance to be crowned the best in the region. 100 Thieves walked away with the title, but the other seven squads still established themselves as the top teams in North America.

FaZe were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Sentinels in a one-sided 2-0 victory, which was a tough loss but highlighted a few areas of their strategy that need work. 

The majority of FaZe’s roster consists of former Overwatch pros. Their skills and familiarity with various abilities and mechanics transfer over to VALORANT, but they’re still slightly behind players with a Counter-Strike background. Despite this lack of experience in tactical shooters, Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen believes they’ve steadily improved and are learning the fundamentals needed for VALORANT

“From the start of the game, they’ve improved drastically. They’re professional players at the end of the day, even from Overwatch,” Marved told Dot Esports. “They know how to adapt; we just needed to get the reps in. As soon as they adapted, they improved. Their comms are better, they know rotations better. Things from CS that are really important that transferred over to this game they’ve learned. Overall, they’ve improved a lot.”

Marved is the only member of the FaZe roster with a professional Counter-Strike background and has helped his team adapt to the new game. All of the players are mechanically talented, but key fundamentals must be learned in tactical shooters. Players like Marved already understand the fundamentals and can help former Overwatch pros when needed. 

Zachary “ZachaREEE” Lombardo, a former Overwatch pro, believes it’ll take time for the FaZe roster to learn but that they’re already strong players. 

“I think for us, being able to get solidified in tac shooters is more of a time thing. We are working with guys from the CS scene, and we have Marved and his Counter-Strike brain,” ZachaREEE said. “We are working on getting those fundamentals down so we can get a solid foundation for us to transfer over. All of us are mechanically strong, in my opinion; all of us are solid players. A lot of the time, we just need to focus on having good setups and being able to trade each other out and identifying the stuff that a typical CS player would know how to do. I think we have been improving a lot on that recently.”

FaZe aren’t the only team with former Overwatch pros in their ranks. One of the most famous Overwatch players in history, Jay “sinatraa” Won, retired in early 2020 to pursue a professional career in VALORANT with Sentinels. Sinatraa helped his team defeat FaZe in the First Strike quarterfinals and appears to have had little trouble adapting to a new game. 

“Sinatraa is kind of his own type of beast; he’s good at everything he does,” ZachaREEE said. “His playstyle from Overwatch carried over well to VALORANT. I think his playstyle carried over well and he has a good group of CS players that are all really smart and have definitely helped him out with keeping fundamentals and not overdoing anything. They give him all the stuff he needs to know to be strong and keep his aggressive playstyle.”

Despite Marved and ZachaREEE acknowledging that CS players have a better understanding of the fundamentals needed to succeed in a tactical shooter, they still don’t believe that their team is at a disadvantage. 

“We just need a bit more time,” ZachaREEE said. “We’re working with some CS guys and we all used to play CS… Everybody has some sort of tac-shooter experience, but we are working with people who are more experienced than us to kind of close the gap. I think we are mechanically solid, we just need that fundamental stuff and we’ll be good.”

FaZe performed well in the JBL Quantum Cup where they defeated Gen.G in the semifinals but ultimately lost again to Sentinels in the grand finals. They’ve still proven themselves as one of the best teams in the region, but there’s always room for improvement. VALORANT’s esports scene is in the early stages, though, so there’s plenty of time for teams to adapt and learn.