One of the Fastest Growing Industries in the World
Just like natural resources, automotive, or construction, Esports is a business industry, specifically entertainment. People may not realize that the big companies behind Esports such as FaZe Clan, Evil Geniuses, and Cloud9 are businesses. This means that they must operate in a manor of sustainability and profitability to thrive and stay competitive. This involves tournaments, sponsorship, promotions, and yes contracts for players. I have to admit that the recent rift between Tfue and FaZe Clan has sparked my interest and motivated me to write this article. We will get back to that later. For now, let us look at what these companies do and how they do it, using Faze Clan as an example.
Building an Empire
FaZe clan started in 2010 with a couple of gamers who started uploading YouTube videos of them performing trick shots on Call of Duty. Housecat, Resistance, and Clipz soon inspired thousands of viewers to follow their trend around the world. In 2012 they began competitive gaming for Call of Duty. With their success they began branching out and building teams for other popular games including Overwatch, Counter Strike, Rainbow Six Siege, PUBG, and of course, Fortnite. They now have over 60 members, including some famous entertainers as celebrity inductees.
With their growing popularity, it was time to branch into an entertainment focus. This was largely fueled with the addition of FaZe Banks, the current chief operating officer of FaZe Clan. As a popular internet vlogger (Video Blogger), he brought in a new approach to reaching new people and keeping their fan base entertained. FaZe Clan is now a media powerhouse, amassing over 71.4 million combined YouTube subscribers and over 10 billion views on the platform. That is just YouTube, not including Twitch, SnapChat, or any other media platform.
If you follow some of the members, you will see a variety of lifestyles. They have people posting all over the world. They’re traveling all the time. They live like rock stars and people love to watch it, to feel like they are living it through social media. The most famous of these include FaZe Banks and FaZe Adapt. These guys are always at sporting events, concerts, night clubs, and festivals. They post about it regularly to keep their fans in the action and entertained. This is done strategically to build clout. And they get to party. It’s a win-win situation.
Power of Branding
When it comes to branding, nobody in the Esports industry does it better than FaZe Clan. They are much more than just competitive gamers. FaZe includes entertainers, influencers, pranksters, and much more. Using social media to amass a following, they have become internet sensations. They have signed deals with major sponsors including Nissan, GFuel, Wix, HTC Gaming, SteelSeries, and Scuf Gaming. They feature popular names in many of their videos. This not only entertains their own fan base, but also the fans of those that they collaborate with. This allows them to add even more fans and followers.
Some of these collaborations include celebrity inductees NFL star JuJu Smith-Schuster and rapper Lil Yachty. A group of Canadian pranksters, Nelk Boys, have recently moved into the “Clout House” with some of the FaZe members. Some of them have been on stage with Travis Scott and Lil Yachty. In addition to this, they have thrown parties for Bella Thorne, BlocBoy JB, Playboi Carti, E3, and JuJu. With names like these, you know these guys are doing something right.
Players and Contracts
The way they have spread across the internet has not only built the success of their company, but also the success of many players. These players make money from all of the views they get on their videos, tournaments they compete in, and a salary as well. Many of these players would only have a fraction of their current followers if they had not aligned themselves with the popular brand. When FaZe publicly announces the addition of a member, this draws the attention of millions of followers. So its only right that the company gets a portion of the profits right? The players seem to agree, or they would not have signed the contracts to play for FaZe.
With the ability to change people’s lives, literally overnight, it would be all too easy for the company to take advantage of this. Yes they use it for profit, but the terms are not excessive, predatory or oppressive. With the leak of Tfue’s contract recently, we can see this clearly. The majority of the splits are 80% to the gamer and 20% to FaZe. Many of the appearances and brand deals require 50% splits. The only instance where the company take more than 50% is when the company builds a branding deal and the gamer appears in it. The gamer gets a 20% cut for showing up to a couple photo and video shoots wearing the company logo. That sounds plenty reasonable to me.
Faze and Tfue
Now to the hot topic. FaZe and Tfue. When FaZe first found Tfue, he was a good player, but not as good as he is now. A month before signing with FaZe, he averaged 500 viewers at a time on Twitch. He has averaged over 52,000 viewers at a time over the past 3 months and over 70,000 at a time in the past week. Look at the chart and tell me FaZe didn’t cause this. Yes he has gotten better since signing. Yes he was under an entry level contract. He has outgrown the initial contract, therefore he deserves a renegotiation. FaZe claims that they offered several contract modifications. I was unsure of this until a video was recently released from the FaZe CEO that shows these emails and modifications. They offered to remove all percentages to FaZe. He was that good of a player that him representing their logo was enough good publicity for them. Tfue wouldn’t agree.
Turner “Tfue” Tenney wants more than this. Tfue wants out of the contract that he claims is oppressive. He wants to start his own gaming company. He wants to become the competition. As the CEO of FaZe said, “That would be like letting Lebron James leave the Lakers and start his own NBA team.” Nobody would let that happen. The fan base deserves better than that. The industry deserves better than that. Tfue doesn’t care about the money. With his popularity he is making millions of dollars. He wants out of a contract that he signed that requires him to play for a team for 3 years. Why? Does he think he is too good for FaZe? Does he want his own brand? Why try to compete against the company that gave you the platform to gain the fans that you have today?
Who Will Win in Court?
There is still a chance that Tfue may win in court though. This will not be because the contract is “oppressive” though. In the state of California, any being or company that solicits or artistic talent for employment or engagement must obtain a talent agency license. It is said that FaZe does not have one of these licenses. However, this raises another question. Does California law apply since this is where they live? The company is incorporated in Delaware so should the law be applied from there?
It is my understanding that the state of New York will have the final ruling in this contract dispute. At the end of the contract, it states “This agreement shall be governed and construed in accordance with the State of New York….parties submit exclusively to the state or federal courts located in New York, NY for any claim hereunder and each party consents to the jurisdiction thereof.” Being a w-9 employee under contract, I would assume that the New York contract takes precedent. However, FaZe headquarters is in California. This could swing the suit back to California.
Any questions or comments?
Drop them below or give me your opinion.