A potentially historic lawsuit from pro Fortnite player and internet personality Turner “Tfue” Tenney could be set to change the relationship between content creators and online organisations forever.
Tenney has established himself as one of the most successful and popular Twitch streamers in the world, mostly thanks to the fact that he’s a dab hand at Fortnite and well known on the pro circuit as well as online.
But in a surprising new move, as reported by The Verge, a lawsuit recently filed by Tenney’s lawyers alleges that his employer – the American esports and entertainment organization Faze Clan – has taken advantage of him with an “oppressive, onerous, and one-sided” contract that that violates California law and the Talent Agency Act.
The suit alleges that FaZe has violated the aforementioned Talent Agency Act specifically, by operating as a talent agency without the required licence, or working within the specified regulations.
The lawsuit also claims, among other things, that FaZe has denied Tenney of business opportunities by limiting the amount of sponsorship deals available to him. The organisation has also failed to pay Tenney his share of brand deal revenue and have allegedly undercut his earnings by up to 80 percent in various situations.
It’s also suggested that members of FaZe attempted to encourage the 21 year old Tenney to gamble and drink, and that the organisation often threatens the “health, safety, and welfare” of other players like Tenney. The streamer also suffered a permanent injury to his arm after the team “pressured” him and others to perform stunts in videos.
FaZe responded to the lawsuit on Twitter saying that it was “shocked and disappointed” by the allegations. It also insists that it has never collected any of Tenney’s tournament winnings or non-esports revenue, suggesting that it’s only made $60,000 from the partnership compared to Tenney’s “millions.”
The organisations statement further claimed that Clan’s contract limited its share to 20 percent of winnings and content, though the alleged issues involving sponsorship and working conditions were not addressed.
FaZe signed off by saying it will continue to support Tenney throughout the legal proceedings.
FaZe Clan’s response to today’s press article regarding Tfue: pic.twitter.com/eVdRVMnRpl
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) May 20, 2019
However things work out for Tenney and FaZe, it’s clear that this case will inevitably shine a light on the contracts between esports players and teams, an area which remains much murkier than it is in the world of more established sports.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.