In a move that could serve to rock the streaming business to its core, top Fortnite streamer Turner "Tfue" Tenney is suing his employer, FaZe Clan. The streaming sensation is taking his grievances with the entertainment company to court over his contract with FaZe, the terms of which Tenney and his legal team claim to be unfair and overly restrictive.
The budding legal battle between Tfue and FaZe probably seems like something that's been a long time coming to those in the streaming community, as companies like FaZe often function like a catch-all production company, talent agency, publicist, and management firm. Streamers looking to claim a solid foothold in the potentially lucrative field more often than not heavily rely on groups like FaZe. The same was the case for Tfue, who only shot to popularity shortly after joining the elite corps of esports professionals. Whether his fame was inevitable or if there's a direct connection between success and FaZe membership, Tfue has apparently grown unhappy with the contract he signed with FaZe in April of last year and is ready to part ways with his soon-to-be former teammates.
The details of Tfue's legal complaint, collected by The Hollywood Reporter, argues that FaZe has taken advantage of the 21-year-old streamer, alleging that FaZe's strict control over which external parties their client can and cannot work with, coupled with the 80 percent cut of Tfue's sponsored video revenue that FaZe is contractually entitled to, are "grossly oppressive, onerous, and one-sided." Additionally, another goal of the complaint is to find FaZe in breach of contract so that Tfue can more freely pursue other career opportunities to control his own earning potential. Bryan Freedman, one of Tfue's attorneys, justified these measures when stating:
And to have all this dropped on my head, without any warning. It blows my mind. I still don’t fully believe Turner knows understands what these claims are. I believe his team put this in front of him and encouraged him to follow through. I’m heartbroken homies 💔— FaZe Banks (@Banks) May 20, 2019
FaZe Clan’s response to today’s press article regarding Tfue: pic.twitter.com/eVdRVMnRpl— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) May 20, 2019
FaZe quickly fired back with their own side of the story. FaZe Banks, another of the group's most prominent streamers, related his surprise and deep personal offense at Tfue's accusations in a long string of tweets, referring to the situation as "unbelievable" and fervently denying the 80 percent revenue split claim. FaZe Clan echoed Banks' assertions in an official statement, claiming to have made only "a total of $60,000" over the course of their partnership with Tfue. Addressing the 80 percent figure directly in a second statement, FaZe Clan alleges to "have NEVER collected on that clause from Tfue or any other FaZe Clan member." However, it gives one pause to consider why that clause is present in FaZe Clan contracts if the company truly never took any of this sponsored content money, of which it explicitly ceded itself control.
This ordeal is clearly a very messy and personal one, but occurrences like this have seemed inevitable for a while now. The extended honeymoon-turned-gold rush of game development and gaming-related content creation are at their veritable ends due to their growing levels of mainstream consumption. It's always been a matter of time until artists across the increasingly sophisticated frontiers would begin to demand equal pay and treatment for their specialized services, and Tfue's case is likely to be the first in a much longer line of similar suits if it ultimately serves to further his career.