Turner “Tfue” Tenney’s contract with FaZe Clan, the document at the center of the recent controversy, has seemingly leaked just hours after the player’s impassioned request for its publication.
The document was revealed by TheBlast.com in a news post today, and potentially confirms many of the pro player’s claims. If this is indeed a copy of Tfue’s contract, it also brings to light even more negative aspects of his agreement with FaZe.
On top of an 80/20 split in favor of the organization on endorsement deals, which was outlined in the original filing of the lawsuit, the purported contract also details Tfue’s $2000 a month salary, and six-month no-compete clause. This clause would come into effect should he leave the company after a “material breach,” defined in the contract as disparaging the team, breaking the law, refusing to fulfill his duties, betting on esports, or appearing intoxicated in public.
No-compete clauses have over time become a standard part of employment contracts, but in the corporate world, they typically affect high-level executives who might have access to contacts and information which a company’s competitors would be able to use. For creative roles, such as content makers, designers, copywriters, etc. contract clauses typically only cover specific pieces of intellectual property and very rarely prevent them from finding other work after the contract ends.
However, no-compete clauses also protect companies and teams from unfair business practices, such as poaching or hoarding talent. In the case of sports, and esports, players not forced to sit out competition can adversely affect their previous team’s performance, by leaking strategies and the use of insider knowledge.
The document also contains a contract matching clause which would force Tfue to disclose the details of any deal he makes with other teams. FaZe could then match it, and trigger the contract’s 36-month extension. While this would protect FaZe, and ensure a good deal for Tfue, it could also keep him in the team, regardless of his wishes.
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And beyond this, the alleged contract asserts that Tfue is an “independent contractor,” a status which could potentially be called into question. Misclassification of employees as independent contractors has become a controversial issue as of late, and one of the reasons behind the recent Uber and Lyft strikes.
An article released by the American Bar Association points out that over-supervising, the requirement of set hours, and prohibiting competition are breaches of the definition of an independent contractor. The tasks listed under the “Gamer Services” section of the contract seem to exceed the threshold for supervision and set hours, while other aspects of the contract prevent Tfue from finding work with other teams.
When used properly, independent contractors are an incredibly valuable part of esports, working in every capacity from writers like yours truly, to coaches, admin staff, and many more roles in between. But misuse of them can cause problems for all parties, blurring the lines between full-time employees and contractors, and creating legal, financial, and taxation issues.
FaZe Clan co-founder, content creator, and unofficial spokesman for the organization, Ricky “FaZe Banks” Banks, reacted swiftly to the leak, agreeing that “the contract was trash.”
Even with this contract in the open, we seem no closer to a resolution, and it’s worth waiting for FaZe’s official release of the document before we pass judgement. The leak potentially proves several of Tfue’s claims, but it doesn’t clear up FaZe’s assertions that they’d offered him better at a later date. The most positive aspect of this reveal will be transparency it has created, and ideally it will spark debate on making esports contracts fairer for all parties.