Tfue, FaZe Clan File Dueling Motions for Summary Judgment in Esports Contract Fight

Turner Ellis Tenney-Getty-H 2019

Esports star Turner "Tfue" Tenney and FaZe Clan are each asking a New York federal judge to declare partial victory in their favor in their dispute over his exit from the gaming organization.

Tenney first sued FaZe Clan in California in May, arguing that his gamer agreement is "oppressive," violates the state's laws requiring that a licensed talent agent procure employment and allows the gaming organization to take up to 80 percent of his earnings. FaZe Clan fired back in New York, arguing that the contract demands any disputes be adjudicated in the Empire State and alleging that Tenney was withholding revenue and stealing its secrets to launch a competitor.

The California fight was paused in December, pending resolution of the New York dispute — where both sides are now telling U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff there's enough evidence to decide who's right with regard to at least a few of the claims. 

FaZe filed its motion Thursday. The gaming org begins by describing Tenney as a "promising video game athlete" who hadn't been able to monetize his talent because of his "meager" social media following. Enter FaZe Clan, which says it "almost immediately" boosted his profile and income. 

FaZe Clan argues that Tenney breached their deal by refusing to share revenue from Fortnite in-game purchases made by his fans and says his claim that it violated California's Talent Agencies Act fails because the alleged procurement happened outside of the state. It wants Rakoff to grant summary judgment in its favor on Tenney's claims for breach of fiduciary duty and violation of California's law that prohibits restraining someone from finding work.

The gamer agreement gives FaZe Clan the ability to match any offer Tenney receives within three months after their contract expires. It argues that whether that clause runs afoul of California law is irrelevant because Tenney never provided a competing offer and therefore it's "an improper request for an advisory opinion regarding a hypothetical that likely will never transpire."

FaZe Clan is also challenging Tenney's affirmative defenses that argue the gamer agreement is void for fraud and that the New York court lacks personal jurisdiction. (Read the filing here.)

Meanwhile, Tenney's legal team filed its own motion for partial summary judgment. The 22-year-old gamer argues that he's entitled to victory on FaZe Clan's breach of contract claims involving allegations after Oct. 27, 2018. He says that's when their contract expired and it wasn't automatically renewed because the gaming org had failed to pay him a required $2,000 monthly fee in a timely fashion. Tenney separately argues that the renewal wasn't triggered because FaZe Clan didn't provide the proper written notice required under New York law.

Tenney also wants Rakoff to find in his favor on FaZe Clan's claim that he misappropriated trade secrets because none of the information he's accused of disclosing qualifies as a trade secret and that, even if it did qualify, the organization has no evidence he stole or will inevitably disclose the information. 

Finally, the gamer argues that FaZe Clan's claims for intentional interference with contract, intentional interference with prospective business advantage, commercial disparagement and unjust enrichment fail. Tenney says he didn't induce another gamer to leave the organization, didn't interfere with any of its brand relationships and isn't liable for sharing his opinion that gamers shouldn't sign with organizations like FaZe Clan. (Read that filing here.)