One of the most prominent Fortnite players in the world, Turner “Tfue” Tenney, is suing his own team, FaZe Clan.
In the suit, Tenney’s legal team alleges FaZe Clan limited its player’s professional opportunities and did not pay him a fair share of owed sponsorship money.
In the complaint filed by Tenney’s lawyers at Los Angeles Superior Court, his legal team wrote:
“These gamers are artists, entertainers and content creators. They perform, they act, they direct, they edit and they stream.
“Because the industry is so new, these young content creator/streamers are susceptible to being taken advantage of and exploited – often by those that are supposed to be looking out for their best interests.”
They argue that gamers such as Tfue should have the same contract and financial rules in place as is customary for film and television performers.
After hearing of the news, FaZe Clan said they were “shocked and dismayed” by the allegations and the lawsuit. FaZe Clan went on to state:
“In fact, we’ve collected a total of only $60,000 from our partnership, while Tfue has earned millions as a member of the FaZe Clan.
“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together over the past year with Turner and will continue to support him.”
Tfue has already qualified for this year’s Fortnite World Cup Finals, and through his prowess in Fortnite, he has also become a hugely popular streamer.
The esports community is up in arms about the lawsuit. It’s provoked a barrage of comment from all sides of the debate. There are many who feel Tfue has committed professional suicide by suing his team in bad faith. Meanwhile, others are more sympathetic to the player’s stance. They believe his contract may well be excessively prohibitive to his current and future earnings and career prospects.
Following the fervor, Tfue released a short video titled “My Response #ReleaseTheContract.” Here, Tfue claims the decision to sue his team was not intended to create controversy. Rather, he wanted to bring attention to the contract he signed with FaZe Clan a while back, which he now feels was a poor decision on his part.
“I never wanted to upset anybody … I never wanted anyone to get emotional because it is not about that.
“This is about me and this contract. This contract that I signed when I didn’t know any better, I’m an idiot. I never should have signed it in the first place, this three-year contract.”
“FaZe Clan, please release the contract for the public to see … just give me permission to show these people the truth.”
Read and watch the full exchange here.
Why this lawsuit is not a surprise
Tfue’s lawsuit is not a shock to anybody following esports over the years. Many experts have felt that it was only a matter of time before an e-athlete tested the water this way.
Many people have opined that teams exercise too much power and influence over gamers, many of whom are young and totally inexperienced regarding contracts. Indeed, many young gamers would sign almost any contract if it allows them to become a bonafide esports professional.
The ramifications now are huge. If Tfue’s lawsuit wins, it will open the door for many other players who feel oppressed by their teams to bring their own claims. If that’s the case, contracts could be shredded left and right.
On the flip side, if the courts rule with FaZe Clan, this would strengthen the hand of the teams when it came to future contract negotiations.
Whatever the eventual outcome, this issue has brought into sharp focus the whole area of contract negotiations. It’s no passing matter.
Image credit: De_Ge / Getty Images