Turner "Tfue" Tenney, one of Fortnite's brightest stars, has demanded his esports team FaZe Clan release his contract to the public just days after the player first announced he had filed a lawsuit against the organization. Tfue's lawsuit is his attempt to sever ties with his team, and has been the subject of media buzz ever since it became publicly known due to the potential widespread ramifications that the legal battle could have on the esports scene moving forward.
Tfue's lawsuit centers around the fact that he and his legal team believe FaZe is violating California labor laws, specifically the Talent Agency Act (TAA). Tfue's complaint suggests that the Fortnite pro should be considered an artist, not an athlete. If the state of California does consider him an artist, then it would mean he's protected under the TAA, which is meant to protect entertainers from getting bad representation deals. Essentially, Tfue believes FaZe has given him a raw deal, and has alleged that the company is operating as his agent despite not being a licensed talent agency. Because so many esports players and their teams are based out of California, and the scene is still so young, the decisions made about Tfue's lawsuit will inevitably impact the entire industry, so it's captivated those watching it.
Tfue first made his lawsuit public earlier this week, but in a video released yesterday, the star went a step further in pleading that FaZe Clan release his contract to the public — something Tfue himself can't do legally — so that fans can decide for themselves whether it is exploitative or not. The video also implores his supporters to pressure FaZe Clan into releasing the contract, even starting a Twitter hashtag "#ReleasetheContract" in an effort to force his employer's hand. In response to the video, FaZe Clan owner Richard "FaZe" Banks tweeted that the company would be releasing the contract soon, although that hasn't happened yet:
By the way we ARE indeed releasing the contract. Just got off the phone with the hirer ups and we're preparing it for you guys now. I have nothing to hide and everything I've said throughout all of this is the truth. We tried for a straight year to come to a new agreement.— FaZe Banks (@Banks) May 23, 2019
Banks would then go off on Twitter a little, lambasting Tfue for having "lawyers talking through" him and labeling the effort as "garbage." It's not a great look for a team owner who has been accused of shady practices — Tfue's professionalism in handling the situation so far seems to outshine Banks' own efforts, and it's certainly created a larger following behind Tfue seeking the truth behind the contractual situation. It's an emotional situation for all parties involved, and it seems to be splitting FaZe Clan's loyalties as players begin to rally behind Tfue as his industry-shaking lawsuit begins to gain momentum.
Whatever happens, Tfue's decision to defend his rights as a content creator and artist will end up making history for esports. Hopefully, if his contract is exploitative, it begins the first steps in protecting the often young stars of the esports scene from being used by those looking to make money off of their talent. Until a court makes a ruling or the contract is released, though, it's tough to make a decision without such key information, and the war of words between Fortnite's Tfue and Banks will simply create an even bigger spotlight on the situation in the interim.