FaZe Rawkus: “We came together as a team until the very end”
With FaZe eliminated from Valorant NA Last Chance Qualifiers, Sova specialist and former Overwatch pro Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty reflects on their final game of the season and how despite this, FaZe came out stronger in the end.
With FaZe eliminated from Valorant NA Last Chance Qualifiers, Sova specialist and former Overwatch pro Shane "Rawkus" Flaherty reflects on their final game of the season and how despite this, FaZe came out stronger in the end.
Faze Rawkus reflects on missed opportunities
It's not even fifteen minutes since FaZe Clan was eliminated from Valorant NA Last Chance Qualifiers. Version1 shut them out 2-0 with a win on Breeze, arguably one of FaZe's best maps. And it was hard to figure out what to ask Rawkus post-mortem. It could be easy for one to ask what went wrong, who's to blame, and what one would improve, but when Rawkus came online, there was only one thing he wanted to express: gratitude.
"I think it was just more like the org giving us a chance as like former Overwatch friends and pros to make a team and see how far we could push ourselves," Rawkus explains. "I feel like, strategically towards the end, we got really like a lot more structured and came together better as a team."
"FaZe has treated us really well with everything. And I think that we kind of let the org down. We should have performed better, like in past tournaments."
"I think it was--I think it was good leading," he continues after I asked about his accomplishments this year. "I mean, FaZe has treated us really well with everything. And I think that we kind of let the org down. We should have performed better, like in past tournaments."
Given the rollercoaster year they've had, it makes perfect sense he would feel that way. The beginning of the year looked very strong for FaZe, with aggressively fun performances from a team comprised mostly of Overwatch pros Andrej "babybay" Francisty, Zachary "ZachaREEE" Lombardo, Corey "corey" Nigra and Rawkus. They were not only former pros, but friends who wanted to see if they could make it in a brand new game.
With Hunter "BabyJ" Schline from the Halo pro circuit rounding them out, FaZe took a chance on this group and it paid dividends, with the team getting second place in Masters One in March of this year.
"We got second at Masters One, but besides the beginning of the year, we kind of fell off short," he admits.
Since then, while still showing signs of life, it wasn't long before FaZe found themselves in the unenviable position of having to fight for their spot in Champions. And it wasn't an easy one.
"I felt my performance up to the last map was decent," Rawkus explains, speaking on his journey through the tournament. "It wasn't bad. It wasn't amazing, but it was solid."
Sadly, when playing against Version1 on Breeze, things changed. As Sova, he felt as if his performance could have been so much better. "The last map I just couldn't--I don't know, I just couldn't get it in there. Couldn't find anything."
As he answered, it was clear from his voice he felt FaZe could have went further. Rawkus appeared to take full responsibility for his performance--something that isn't an easy thing for anyone to do after such a devastating loss.
"I just didn't have a good performance. I couldn't find--it wasn't like I was missing shots. I just couldn't find anyone I couldn't like...yeah."
Into the unknown
Rawkus trailed off, falling in the all too familiar pattern of beating himself up, something we've all done plenty of times. When I asked him what he'd like to do for himself or how he would like FaZe to be better, he had the most honest answer yet.
"Mostly not sure I haven't even really thought about right now. I'm sorry."
There was a moment of silence, until I asked him what he wanted to do now. He had to go against his instincts on this one, either because he knew the season was over or because he knew how important reflection was going to be, especially when facing a course change from what was originally planned. But Rawkus is a grinder through and through. Always practicing to be better than he was, especially after a loss. But what about now?
"I don't want to grind. I feel like because I played bad that I should [grind], cause I want to just get better. That's how I've always been."
"I also think it'd be stupid if I don't take some time for myself," he continues. "But I think everyone should. Yeah, we'll see, we'll see. I don't know what--I don't even know what we're gonna do. We haven't even thought about it. We thought we were going to do well in the tournament and win, so. Not sure what we do next."
Rawkus thankful for a year playing alongside his friends
If there is one thing he is certain of, it is that he is incredibly thankful for this year. He got to play with his friends, they were able to seamlessly go pro in a brand new game, and despite the end of their season, he knows this year was nothing even remotely close to a failure.
It can be hard to articulate, but even at the end of the road, Rawkus is optimistic.
"It's just...I mean it was just like this past year has been really good," he concludes. "Playing with friends and working on a new game and like, trying to progress to be the best team. We've had our ups and downs, but I wouldn't say the year's entirely a failure even though we failed to do what we wanted to do, which was get to Champions."
"We stuck it through together and we played well. And we tried our hardest together through ups and downs so to everyone's who's thinking of us, thank you."
Only six teams now remain in the VALORANT Last Chance Qualifiers; 100 Thieves, XSET, Rise, Cloud9 Blue, Gen.G Esports and Version1. If you found this interview of interest, be sure to check out our interview with Zellsis of Version1.