For the very first time, an SI cover features an esports organization.
Landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated has always been a major status symbol in the sports world. And for the first time in its distinguished 67-year history, an esports organization will grace an SI cover as the publication seeks to connect with emerging audiences in new ways.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and LeBron James Jr. — both FaZe Clan members — feature on the July cover alongside pro gamers Nickmercs, Temperrr, Rug and Swagg. A cover story written by Rohan Nadkarni captures how the gaming, streaming, and content collective is redefining what it means to be a pro sports team.
“Athletes used to be the antithesis of gamers,” Nadkarni writes. “Now FaZe is helping them be seen as one in the same.“
FaZe fields competitive esports teams with the Call of Duty League’s Atlanta FaZe as well as outfits in CS:GO, Rocket League, Valorant, Fortnite, FIFA, PUBG, and Rainbow Six. The organization boasts vastly more followers than most traditional professional sports teams, with 11.1 million on Instagram, 5.6 million on TikTok, 5.4 million on Twitter, and 716,000 on Facebook.
“Gamers are the next generation of rock stars,” said FaZe CEO Lee Trink. “People recognize that. And people want to be a part of that wave.”
In addition to Murray and James, FaZe boasts a roster of celebrity members and investors that includes Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons, rappers Offset and Lil Yachty, and music industry icon Jimmy Iovine.
“They have a platform, and it’s limitless what they can do with that platform,” Iovine said.
In celebration of FaZe’s cover story, Nickmercs revealed the cover live on his Twitch channel, and FaZe will be selling limited-edition merch and limited-edition versions of the magazine, including signed copies, on the NTWRK app on June 12.
And the celebration doesn’t end there. On June 18, FaZe will participate in the third House of Highlights Showdown. This time, the Showdown takes the form of a dodgeball tournament, with FaZe competing with 2HYPE, AMP, and RDCWorld for a $250,000 prize.
In so many ways, things are only heating up for this trailblazing esports crew. And Murray captures the moment most effectively.
“Why did I join FaZe? Because it’s the best of the best.”
Digital editions of the magazine online now, with print copies hitting newsstands June 17.