The Tfue vs FaZe Clan Contract Dispute

Fortnite is now a popular professional esports game Source: Wikimedia The world of professional esports was rocked in May when one of the leading players of Fortnite had a very public falling out with his own team, FaZe Clan. Born in 1998, Turner Tenney is better known under his playing handle of Tfue. His employers were attempting to keep a lid on the situation which could have become very explosive indeed. However, when the full terms of Tfue's contract were leaked onto the internet later in the month, the full extent of the contract dispute became apparent in a very public way. There can be little doubt that the esports market, including Fortnite, is growing at a huge rate by any measure, not least because of the related online gambling market. That said, esports professionals, promoters, sponsors and team owners are all now focussed on how the contractual argument between FaZe Clan and Tfue will play out. What on earth is going on and what does it say about the burgeoning esports industry?

What Is the Argument About?

You will probably not be surprised to hear that the dispute between Tfue and his employers essentially comes down to one thing – money. Given the increasing professionalisation of the video game industry, this is hardly a surprise. Hockey players, soccer stars and basketball squad members have all had their arguments over payment arrangements, after all. The crucial difference in the case of Tfue and FaZe Clan is that the player concerned is officially designated as an athlete in his contract rather than an entertainer, something he claims he is. Tfue says that he provides entertainment and his contract should reflect this under the requirements of Californian employment laws. Basically, he had been making the point that this allowed FaZe Clan to pay him very little compared to the revenue he generates. Unable to reveal the clauses in his contract himself, he publicly called for his employers to make it available for everyone to read, something they resisted. An amateur player enjoying a game Source: Pixabay

The Contract Goes Public

Thanks to the aforementioned leak, everyone who follows esports - including competitor players and teams, of course – was able to read just how restrictive Tfue's contract is. Many industry commentators immediately showed support for Tfue's position, some claiming it was even worse than they had expected it to be. FaZe Clan publicly responded on Twitter, saying that Tfue had been offered multiple new contracts in order to resolve the dispute, none of which the player had taken up. The latest news is that Tfue has decided to sue FaZe Clan for what he calls its 'predatory practices'. The player estimates that his employers have kept around 80 per cent of his earnings from advertising and sponsorships and a similarly large figure from in-person appearances. On the other side of the coin, FaZe Clan says it made only $60,000 from Tfue-related activities despite his multi-million dollar income. That will be an issue for the lawyers to sort out, of course. What is of more interest to esports fans is the fact that professional video gamers are now behaving just like other sportspeople. Whether that is for the better or worse of the industry, only time will tell.

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