By Joseph Cheah
Turner “TFue” Tenney is a professional esports player. He plays Fornite to earn a living.
FaZe Clan is an esports and entertainment organization. It was founded in 2010. They have teams competing in various video game tournaments, playing under their brand name.
In April 2018, TFue officially joined and played under the FaZe Clan brand.
Before joining FaZe Clan, he only had about 70,000 followers on Twitch. After joining FaZe Clan, he amassed more than 6 million followers. He became one of the best and most popular Fortnite players in the world. He is 21 years old. And his networth is an estimated USD5Million. As he grew more popular, his value increases too.
In May 2019, TFue sued FaZe Clan. Essentially, he is saying that his contract with FaZe Clan is illegal and contains anti-competitive restraints on trade – he was prohibited from seeking his own sponsors while FaZe Clan close lucrative partnerships by leveraging him being part of the team.
The case is ongoing and the outcome could very well shape the esports landscape.
Nobody wants to go through this ordeal. It is essential that both parties (Organization and Players) understand the terms of contract they are entering. In a relatively new industry, there is no standardize contract to refer to. To that end, these are some of the provisions the parties must consider when it comes to the player’s agreement.
This will determine if the organization is obligated to fulfil the player’s entitlement (ie: EPF, SOCSO, medical benefits etc).
From industry perspective, the players are generally categorized as an independent contractor. This allows for flexibility where the players are only recruited (and paid) whenever their services are required. If not attached the organization, the players can then carry out their own respective businesses.
Generally, the player’s obligations to the team include participating in tournaments, practices, streaming contents, and attending to promotional events.
Also, there is almost always an exclusivity clause where the player plays for one team throughout the tenure of the player’s agreement.
The organization’s responsibility to the players largely revolves around monetary compensation. The agreement must be precise on how much the players are paid. The organization must at the same time bear in mind on the various revenue streams that would involve the players.
Some of these revenue channels include tournament winnings, streaming contents, and sponsorships. Also, the organization must discuss with the players if online donations ought to be shared with the organization.
Aside from remuneration, the organization should also discuss who is to bear travelling cost. This section should describe what sort of accommodation and transportation be provided to the players, and if the players are required to cover any of these costs.
It is essential that the organization educate the players on the rules and regulations that ought to be complied with. With different games regulated by different game publishers, the rules may be convoluted.
A section can be drafted to protect the organization if a player violates a rule – such as terminating its contract effective immediately or taking punitive action against the player.
One of the ways for an organization to stand out is to leverage on the player’s popularity and influence in the market. In that sense, the players would need to allow the organization to use his name and/or appearance for marketing and general promotional purposes. Therefore, it is important for parties to discuss on the extent of ‘ownership’ of the use of the player’s name in such circumstances.
This may be one of the most important sections in the player’s agreement. Several clauses ought to be considered and set in stone. For example:
- The player may be allowed to terminate the agreement if the organization fails to meet its obligations, usually non-payment of allowance.
- The player may be allowed to leave the organization if specified buyout sum is met.
- Recurring violations of the rules and regulations may give an organization a justification to terminate the agreement.