Esports pros are suing teams over contracts – Tfue sues Faze Clan
Athletes getting in squabbles with their teams aren’t news – footballers have been leaving or trying to leave their teams over disputes about their contracts for decades… and now it seems the same thing is happening in the esports world. While it’s no secret that esports athletes aren’t necessarily working in the best conditions, what with long hours, intense training regimens and often a ridiculous schedule, the number of excited gamers that desperately want to join the pro esports world hasn’t abated.
Even when issues like drug abuse, doping, toxicity and sexism or racism scandals are practically a dime a dozen, new talent is flocking towards esports like moths to a flame… but now it seems players aren’t content with the ‘honour’ of being selected by teams any more, and are standing u for their rights.
Turner ‘Tfue’ Tenney is suing his team, Faze Clan, over the contract he is under, calling it ‘oppressive, onerous and one-sided’. He filed his complaint with the California Superior Court in LA. The 21-year old pro accuses his team of laying out unfair contracts and agreements that ‘essentially ‘own’ Tenney and other content creator/streamers and professional gamers’.
Those are some serious accusations – after a year with Faze Clan, Tfue says they take up to 80% of third-party revenue for his services, such as sponsored online videos. Having just qualified for a $30 million Fortnite World Cups Finals tournament, it’s understandable that the popular gamer is worried. With around 10 million followers on YouTube alone, 6 million on Twitch and 5 million on Instagram, his voice won’t go unheard.
On a completely different note, Tfue also alleges that the esports organisation made him drink alcohol at parties before he turned 21 (the legal drinking age in the US) – Tfue wants the court to void the rest of his contract and sue for punitive damages.
“Until now, FaZe Clan has enjoyed the fruits of this illegal business model with impunity because no one could or was willing to stand up to Faze Clan,” the suit claims. “Those days are over. Through this action, Tenney seeks to shift the balance of power to the gamers and content creators/streamers, those who are actually creating value and driving the industry. As a result of this action, others will hopefully take notice of what is going on and help to clean up esports.”
Faze Clan’s response was a little weak – they mentioned that they hadn’t taken revenue from his tournament winnings, Twitch revenue, YouTube revenue or any other social platform. They deny the figures mentioned in the lawsuit and plead their innocence wile outright ignoring the accusations about forcing him to drink.
A third source – esports attorney Ryan Morrison – tweeted on the matter that such a suit was ‘a long time coming in esports’, and this could well be true – esports as an industry has surprisingly little consideration for its players, with pro tournaments like the Overwatch League scheduling multiple matches per week forcing lots of international travel in its first season – in the second one, matches dropped from 40 per team per season to 28 per team per season to ease up on the stress caused to players.
Morrison also recommends that al pro players should have an agent and possibly even a lawyer in order to represent them and help them double-check any contract prior to their signing it to avoid exploitation and them being taken advantage of. How things will go with the lawsuit remains to be seen – for now, it is merely filed, not yet in court.