FaZe Clan’s Diane ‘di^’ Tran Wants to Win

The much-hyped gaming company’s first all-woman esports team is out for trophies: "Success is the best revenge," Tran told Jezebel.

Makers of NowThe Experts
FaZe Clan’s Diane ‘di^’ Tran Wants to Win
Illustration:Illustration: Vicky Leta, Credit: FaZe Clan

This article is part of our new women in gaming series, Makers of Now.

In the gaming world, FaZe Clan is, if anything, a hype machine. The ubiquitous esports organization has its hands in nearly every bucket of pop culture—from partnerships with Beats by Dre and the NFL, memberships with stars like NBA player Ben “FaZe Simmo” Simmons and Stranger Things breakout Grace Van Dien, to a glut of high profile investors including rappers Offset, Lil Yachty, and Mr. Worldwide himself: Pitbull.

Despite recent eyebrowraising headlines, FaZe still claims to be rocking its original swagger: The company’s website triumphantly calls itself “one of the world’s most prominent and influential gaming organizations.” Indeed, hundreds of millions of people play and watch FaZe worldwide—whether the hype is worth believing or not is entirely up to you.

In March, nearly 13 years after its founding, FaZe made history, signing its first all-women’s esports team: Jennifer “refinnej” Le, Emma “emy” Choe, Vannesa Emely “panini” Emory, Madison “maddiesuun” Mann, and Diane “di^” Tran—most of whom are also women of color. The following month, they competed in the 2023 Valorant Champions Tour Game Changer Series, an initiative launched by Riot Games in 2021 to raise the profiles of women and nonbinary esports athletes. FaZe signed their second solo female content creator, Stranger Things actor Grace Van Dien, last month—but it already appears that she’s no longer working with the company, after one of FaZe’s male creators attacked her almost immediately. (FaZe issued a statement in support of Van Dien.)

But for Tran, who chatted with Jezebel for our Makers of Now series, it’s all eyes on the prize. The Houston-based 28-year-old hopes to make FaZe proud that this particular group of women were “the chosen ones:” At the end of the day, all she wants is “to win.” It’s the only outcome that will muzzle anonymous naysayers online, though Tran has already more than proven her place in professional esports.

It’s been well-documented that better representation for women and nonbinary folks—especially those from marginalized backgrounds—is urgent in gaming. Not only does Kotaku describe FaZe as a sort of “bro clan,” but gender equality in the larger esports apparatus is sorely lacking. Though nearly half of gamers worldwide identify as women, women make up just 8 percent of professional players. Given that online spaces can be particularly hostile towards minority groups, some players disguise themselves or refrain from using their microphones to avoid gender-based harassment, often sexual in nature. To combat this climate, as well as to counter the team’s hectic schedules (which include scrimmages until 8:30 p.m. each night), FaZe said it’s provided Tran and her teammates with a mental health coach.


This Ace was from one of the worst games I’ve ever experienced and the entire time I was talking to my chat about how sad it was. #valorant #valorantgir #womeninvalorant #womeninesports #valorantaceclip #valoranttoxicity

♬ Bad Habit – Steve Lacy

In spite of the dominant bro-y culture, the FaZe team are part of a small but steadily growing group of all-women’s esports teams, and Tran has all the success and more to justify her inclusion in the industry (wins at the NEST Pro Series LAN Finals and the WESG USA Female LAN Qualifier for CLG Red, to name a couple). A calm and steady leader, she and her teammates are focused as hell—they’re elite athletes, after all. And they’re coming for your prize money.

Photo:FaZe Clan; stheshooter

How did you first get into esports?

Growing up I had seven siblings, and the closest in age to me were my brothers. I gradually started watching them play video games like Warcraft 3, Starcraft, Mario, or Halo. I think they drove my competitive side out because it was always a battle with them.

What is it about esports that makes you tick or just feels right for you?

I was competitive growing up, and now that’s just how I am with everything. I think what really pushed me though was that my brothers didn’t care what gender you were…If you were good, then you were good. Something about competitive gaming makes me go crazy, so when it comes to competing, I want to win and be in that number one spot that people are always going to be gunning for.

Do you remember what it felt like when you first found out the news that you were becoming part of FaZe Clan?

We were already an established team before FaZe picked us up, and when we first found out that FaZe wanted us, we were pretty stoked. We knew they had never had an all-female team, so becoming the first was really exciting.

Speaking of the “first,” what has it been like to be part of a history-making team, or being part of the “first” anything, really? Does that add more pressure on your shoulders?

I don’t think it has added any pressure on me or the team being the “first” FaZe all-female team. If anything, it makes us proud that we were the chosen ones, and we want to win to make sure we show them why they made this choice.

Tell me about your relationship or dynamic with each of your teammates.

Maddie and Jen are definitely my quieter players, but they’re still very impactful in game. Emy and Panini are my more talkative players and just all-around trolls, but they’re still insanely good.

Photo:FaZe Clan; stheshooter

For those who aren’t familiar, can you tell us about your role as controller/initiator agent?

My role was flex player, but I recently just switched over to initiator now. That entails me getting the info for the team. I’m the person using my utility to be able to see where and who is playing what on the enemy team throughout the map. (The team is also coached by Abro Agha aka Abdo and managed by Quick Truong Robert Pham aka truo.)

What has been the most mentally challenging aspect of being on this team?

You have to really push yourself into learning this game. I came from a background of CS:GO, playing it for years competitively, then switching over to Valorant as a new game. There’s just so much information you need to learn.

The industry has long been criticized for being misogynistic towards women players. Do you think the attitude towards women and nonbinary people in the field has changed at all in the last few years? What would you like to see improve?

I think there’s huge improvement for sure, and it’s definitely better than it was years ago. Obviously I would love for everyone to get along, but that’s just never going to happen on the internet. You can’t expect everyone to act like a normal person.

What has your experience been like in the industry as a woman of color/non-white female player?

I think growing up, especially as a first generation Asian American, I wasn’t extremely proud of my culture, but now I realize how some people were just never raised to respect other cultures. Now that I’m older, I very much appreciate where I come from and my ethnicity.

The esports industry has become wildly popular, but still has a long way to go on the whole. What’s your vision for the future of esports?

You see people getting scholarships in college for playing on esports teams, but back when I started, if you told me that was a thing, I’d look at you funny. My vision is just seeing more and more people getting into gaming, especially more women.

What’s one thing about your life and job as an esports athlete that you believe is misunderstood?

It’s a lot more work than you would think. Most people understand at the end of the day that it’s a video game that we’re playing, but it’s still a job nonetheless. You still need to put in hard work and effort, and to continue to grow as a competitor, you have to keep learning every day.

What inspires you to keep pushing when things get difficult, balancing your personal life and a demanding, highly skilled and competitive job?

What keeps me going is always reminding myself that what I want at the end of the day is to win and feel that 15 seconds of adrenaline after you win. It’s such a high that is hard to describe, and to achieve that, I need to keeping putting in time and effort every day.

Do you have any words of wisdom for young girls who aspire to compete in esports someday?

Success is the best revenge.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

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