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Tiny Terrors: Simp and aBeZy's Era-Defining Dominance

April 7, 2024 5:10 PM

When James "Crowder" Crowder was hired to be Atlanta FaZe’s inaugural head coach in 2019, the organization assigned him the task of building the best possible roster for the first season of the Call of Duty League.

Having already agreed to bring on McArthur "Cellium" Jovel and Preston "Priestahh" Greiner, who had worked with Crowder previously, the new Atlanta coach did not hesitate when asked who his top targets were.

“It was like, ‘Now that we got you, what’s our team? … Who do you want to get?’” Crowder said. “And our number one answer was Simp and aBeZy.”

Crowder wanted the duo, known as the “Tiny Terrors” due to their diminutive statures and outsized in-game impacts, but he did not believe FaZe could lure both players away from other suitors in the uber-competitive free agency period before the first CDL season.

As teammates on eUnited, Chris "Simp" Lehr and Tyler "aBeZy" Pharris won the 2019 Call of Duty World League Playoffs and CWL Championship, and in the process, became two of the most sought-after players in CoD.

“We actually, funny enough, thought that in order to get them, we were going to have to split them… It was gonna be really hard to sign both of them just because of contracts and all this other stuff, and they just won a world championship,” Crowder said.

But the pair believed they could achieve more together than they could apart. Simp and aBeZy, along with Cellium, Priestahh, and Michael "MajorManiak" Szymaniak, signed with FaZe in the fall of 2019 to form Atlanta’s first CDL roster.

Simp remembers first seeing aBeZy while playing Black Ops 3 Search and Destroy tournaments.

“I think from the get-go, I kind of knew he was just one of those players that was just an insanely hard kill,” Simp said.

At the time, both were ineligible to compete in CWL-sanctioned events due to being under the age of 18, forcing them to hone their skills in online SND tournaments, where they played against each other, as well as their future coach.

“Playing against people, you can tell if they're good or not,” Crowder said. “And playing against Simp and aBeZy was a clear-cut ‘Yeah, these guys are disgusting.’”

aBeZy, 15 months older than Simp, made the jump from SND to CWL and began competing in events during World War II. He spent the majority of his first pro season with Enigma6, with whom he managed to escape the open bracket three times and qualify for the 2018 CWL Championship.

aBeZy joined eUnited for the Black Ops 4 season and helped them reach the grand finals of the season’s first tournament, the CWL Las Vegas Open. But the team’s performance quickly slipped, as eUnited won only one match and finished with a top 16 placing at CWL Fort Worth.

The massively disappointing result, as well as internal strife, necessitated a roster change. Fortunately for eUnited, Simp, who had been a part of the organization’s under-18 ‘Cadets’ roster, had just become eligible for CWL events.

And thus the Tiny Terrors were born.

“Without even knowing, I think we kind of just complemented each other, honestly, perfectly since day one,” Simp said.

In the four LAN tournaments Simp and aBeZy attended together on eUnited, they reached the grand finals three times and won twice, triumphing at the $1.25 million CWL Pro League playoffs and $2 million CWL Championship.

Since the launch of the CDL in early 2020, Atlanta FaZe have dominated the 12-team franchised league.

Spearheaded by aBeZy, Simp, and Cellium, FaZe have won eight event titles (a CDL record), including the 2021 CDL Championship, reached the grand finals of 20 total CDL events (another CDL record), and have finished atop the regular-season standings every year of the league’s existence.

With FaZe’s Major 2 title in Miami last month, Simp and aBeZy, the top two players in all-time tournament winnings, also became the fifth and sixth players in Call of Duty esports history to have won 10 major CoD events and two world championships, joining Ian "Crimsix" Porter, Damon "Karma" Barlow, Patrick "ACHES" Price, and James "Clayster" Eubanks, according to @BrianStats1.

But the Tiny Terrors’ collective and individual legacies are anything but simple. While Simp and aBeZy have won the most events of any CoD player over the past five years, the volume of their tournament titles pales in comparison to numerous legends who reigned over CoD esports in a different era.

"I think they're the best duo to ever play." - Atlanta FaZe head coach Crowder

So how does one evaluate their all-time greatness when they have dominated an era in which there are fewer events, fewer matches, and fewer teams at the top level?

Crowder said comparing players across eras is tricky.

“That's a conversation that needs to be hashed out on an hour or two-hour-long podcast,” Crowder said with a laugh.

The FaZe coach, admitting his personal bias beforehand, did confidently declare Simp and aBeZy’s place among the all-time great duos in CoD history and give his assessment of where they each rank individually in the esport.

“I think they're the best duo to ever play,” Crowder said. “I think overall, over time, they're gonna be within the top five, and they're at least in the top 10 right now, and that's being very generous.

“Generous in the sense that they could easily be number one and two soon.”

Simp was hesitant to rank himself or aBeZy, although he said he and his longtime teammate would be side-by-side no matter what.

“I feel like it's hard to kind of put myself on a list with everyone,” Simp said. “But wherever I am, Tyler would have to be right next to me. … Everything that I've won, he's been right there next to me the entire time, whether it be on eUnited or in the CDL.”

Neither aBeZy nor Simp has reached their 25th birthday, leaving lots of time to continue bolstering their quickly growing cases as two of the greatest ever. And while some would feel comfortable resting on their laurels, satisfied with their many accomplishments, the Tiny Terrors are not those people.

“Every year, every tournament, we're always trying to chase something new. … Every day, we're trying to work to get better,” Simp said.

That insatiable desire to improve and win at the highest level may very well drive aBeZy and Simp to the very top of the list of CoD’s greatest players. And if Simp is to be believed, their rise to the apex of the esport is nearly inevitable because the best, he says, is yet to come.

“Honestly, I think at the end of our careers, we’ll probably be topping it if we keep up the pace we’re at,” Simp said. “I don't even think we’ve peaked yet, so I think we're gonna keep getting better.”

Better together.

Photo credit: @FaZeClan, @ATLFaZe, @mediabyIsiah