Steven R. May 20, 2019
Turner “Tfue” Tenney is taking FaZe Clan to court.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the popular Fortnite player is stating his team has engaged in exploitative, dangerous, and unlawful practices with himself, and a number of his constituents. Among the allegations are loss of sponsorship opportunities and failure to pay his share of earnings.
"That Gamer Agreement is grossly oppressive, onerous, and one-sided," writes attorney Bryan Freedman of Freedman and Taitelman. "Faze Clan uses its illegal Gamer Contracts to limit Tenney to deals sourced exclusively by Faze Clan and to prevent Tenney from exploring deals presented by others; deals that are potentially superior to deals procured by Faze Clan; and deals that are not saddled with an 80-percent finder's fee."
Tfue joined FaZe Clan in 2018, joining a stable that included Dennis "Cloak" Lepore and Brendan "Jaomock" O’Brien. In the months that followed, the player established himself as one of the game’s most successful competitive talents with strong showings at the Fall Skirmish and Secret Skirmish, which put him near the top of the list when it comes to Fortnite esports' earnings.
More importantly, he carved out a spot as one of the most popular streamers on Twitch.tv, attracting tens of thousands of subscriptions as well as hundreds of thousands of viewers. Those numbers theoretically put him side-by-side with the likes of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael "shroud" Grzesiek, but Tfue’s legal team alleges that FaZe is preventing him from reaping the rewards of that popularity.
According to Freedman, FaZe prevents Tfue from fielding his own sponsorships due to potential conflicts of interest with FaZe sponsors. This forces him to take deals obtained by the team, which sees FaZe shave up to 80 percent off the top. Though no specific numbers were offered by Freedman and he did not name any specific lost opportunities, there is no doubt that Tfue is well positioned to reap the rewards of his popularity.
Ninja stated in an interview with CNN that he made over $10 million in 2018, and he boasts a long list of sponsors including Red Bull and Samsung. He also reportedly made over $1 million earlier this year from Electronic Arts to stream Apex Legends. Though Tfue lacks the mainstream visibility of Ninja, he could be making considerable sums through sponsorships separate from FaZe.
Tfue’s team is seeking to have his partnership with FaZe voided in court so he can seek his own sponsorship opportunities, with separate calls for increased regulation of esports organizations.