TFue and FaZe Rift Could Change Professional Gaming Forever

The dispute that originated from contract disagreements between the two parties has quickly sparked fallout. Ranging from an underage streamer signed to FaZe getting banned from Twitch and the state of California evaluating the legality of groups like FaZe as a whole. 

Tfue, or Turner Tenney, a 21-year-old eSports player made his name playing Fortnite. Between his winnings from Fortnite tournaments and Twitch/Youtube followings, Tenney has received significant financial compensation during his time playing. 

Faze Clan has been a notable group in the gaming community as far back as Modern Warfare 2 but with this new round of young talent, the clan has branched out to recruit upcoming eSports players. Once these players sign a contract to join FaZe, the group can determine the cut of revenue they take.

In Tenney’s case, they could take up to 80 percent of the money the player received through sponsorships. While FaZe claims they never took that much, the option was still available for them. 

In response to Tenney’s lawsuit to get out of his contract, FaZe said:  “We’re shocked and disappointed to see the news of Tfue’s press article and lawsuit. Over the course of our partnership with him, which began in April 2018, FaZe Clan has collected:

  • $0 – Tournament Winnings$0 – Twitch Revenue
  • $0 – Twitch Revenue
  • $0 – YouTube Revenue
  • $0 – from any social platform

In fact, we have only collected a total of $60,000 from our partnership”

While these contracts were the underlying cause of the lawsuit Tenney’s bringing against FaZe to get out of this contract, the information has sparked the interest of the state of California. More specifically, the California Labor Commissioner, whose job it is to combat wage theft, protect workers from retaliation, and educate the public on these issues.  

For FaZe to be able to dictate things via contract, such as pay, they would have had to register through the Labor Commissioner, which they haven’t done. 

The impact of however the court rules will have a huge impact on Twitch streamers, Youtube creators and eSports players. It is common for personalities in each of these industries to join groups like FaZe, who, up until this point may have been operating a without lawful contracts. 

Up until this point, the eSports community has outpaced the law but after this case, many signed players may find themselves with illegal contracts. 

The first victim of this new era is a 12-year-old Fortnite player and Twitch streamer, H1ghSky1. The fellow member of FaZe, was outed after Tenney said he was 11 when he was signed by FaZe. Both Twitch and Fortnite tournaments require players to be at least 13-years-old to participate. H1ghSky1 has earned 5000 dollars at Twitch tournaments while under this age requirement.  

He has now found refuge streaming on Youtube, a platform that allows creators under the age of thirteen to stream, so long as they are supervised by a parent.

“And yes, I am 12. I only lied so that I could fulfill my dream of being a streamer. It’s been my dream for a long time, and I worked for a year and a half for it… I’m sorry. I had to lie. I was too young, and it held me back. I just couldn’t wait two more years,” he said on stream while his mom was off camera. 

The news of H1ghSky1 could spell further trouble for FaZe. Tenney’s lawsuit against the organization said the underage streamer and his family were pressured into lying by FaZe.

Tenney’s lawsuit further claims that while he was under the age of 21 he was pressured to drink.

Even after all of this, the question remains: why is FaZe still fighting to keep Tenney on the roster? 

Organizations like FaZe have very few revenue sources other than selling sponsors and taking a split of revenue from player’s winnings and streams. If FaZe’s contract is ruled illegal, other teams might see their players try and break out of their own contracts, therefore greatly reducing the income for these teams. 

For the eSports industry, the timing couldn’t be worse. In an article for Kotaku, Cecilia D’Anastasio explained why the entire industry could be headed for a significant contraction.

Quoting Frank Fields, Corsair’s sponsorship manager, the article says,“I feel like eSports is almost running a Ponzi scheme at this point…Everyone I talk to in this industry kind of acknowledges the fact that there is value in eSports, but it is not nearly the value that is getting hyped these days.” 

“Seventeen other experts on the North American eSports industry shared similar concerns with Kotaku, some describing it merely as ‘inflated’ and others as ‘completely unsustainable.’”

This may seem like an exaggeration, but the fall of organizations like FaZe could be the first step in the eSports industry contracting to something more sustainable and ultimately one that treats its players better. A very likely first step would be legislation in place to regulate the contracts eSports player can sign and what age they have to be to sign them. 

Despite the drama fallout from Tfue and FaZe’s legal battle, this lawsuit could be one that forms how eSports are legislated in the future and how the government will look at the community going forward. 

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