On Monday, professional Fortnite player Turner "Tfue" Tenney filed suit against esports organization FaZe Clan for allegedly limiting his ability to pursue his profession in violation of California law. On Thursday, ESPN obtained an original copy of the contract that outlines his splits for brand deals, prize money, in-game merchandise, team merchandise and appearance fees. Another copy of that contract was first published by The Blast.
Tfue alleges that the team signed him to a "grossly oppressive" contract that entitles the team to 80 percent of brand deals that FaZe negotiates. In statements throughout the week, FaZe acknowledged that to be true.
Per that contract, Tfue received $2,000 in monthly compensation and was entitled to 80 percent of his prize money, 50 percent of in-game merchandise, 50 percent of brand deals negotiated by Tfue, 20 percent of those deals negotiated by the company, 50 percent of touring and appearance fees, and 20 percent of Tfue-themed team merchandise revenues.
The contract was signed on April 27, 2018, and lasted six months in its initial term but had an automatic extension clause that would add an additional three years.
FaZe co-owner Ricky "Banks" Bengtson said Thursday on Twitter that the company has collected just 20 percent of Tfue's deals, for a total of $60,000 out of $300,000 worth of deals.
FaZe said on Monday that it has collected no money from Tfue in tournament winnings, Twitch and YouTube revenue or any other social media platform earnings. Banks tweeted that the company has offered Tfue newer contract terms.
"This s--- is so see through," Banks said on Twitter. "Listen obviously Turner's initial contract was horrible. Nobody ever disagreed with that. But over the last year we have offered him so many new ones, solutions. 0% splits. Honest and MORE THAN FAIR ways to solve the issue.
"AND AGAIN. This was never about money. We never expected this to happen and over the last year have only collected $60k from $300k in brand deals WE BROUGHT HIM. (20%) That's the absolute total. This wasn't about money, ever. Or an unfair contract."
Banks tweeted on Thursday that his team would release all of the other non-executed contracts that the team offered to Tfue. Tfue and FaZe Clan did not respond to requests for comment.
In the lawsuit, Tfue and his attorney are asking that the California court void the contract between Tfue and FaZe Clan, as well as provide damages and reward money for allegedly hindering Tfue's ability to conduct his profession.
"No player I represent has a contract that looks like this, but nearly every player that comes to my firm or agency begging for help to be freed from their team has a contract like this," Morrison Rothman LLP co-founder Ryan Morrison, who represents many high-profile esports and livestreamer clients, told ESPN. "When we negotiate a deal, we work with owners to make it mutually beneficial, we clean up contracts like this, and relationships last far longer. This is not a mutually beneficial relationship that I'm reading in this agreement.
"The biggest takeaway here should be that this is far from the worst agreement I've seen a star player signed to. For example, the fines are outrageous, but not uncapped like many other organizations."
In addition to the lawsuit, Tfue and his attorney filed a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner's Office stating that "Faze Clan, which is not a licensed talent agency, exploits young artists like Tenney through oppressive and predatory long-term contracts whereby Faze Clan essentially 'owns' the artist and the artist's career." Tfue and his attorney argue that FaZe Clan violated the California Talent Agencies Act.
"The fact that they are seeking to void the agreement based on the [Talent Agencies Act] is something I've long thought could be done," North Carolina-based attorney Ryan Fairchild, who also represents a number of professional esports players, told ESPN. "I honestly have wanted a test case for a long time."