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Is Drug Abuse a Problem in eSports?

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Whether the sport is traditional or played on PC or console, drug abuse appears to be a constant. At first I found the notion that eSports players could enhance their performance with drugs to be laughable, but it intrigued me enough to do some research. I quickly realized that performance enhancement is possible using certain drugs. In fact any drug that allows you to think ‘faster’ or react quicker could technically be a performance enhancer. For example, caffeine. However I do not believe companies like ESIC or WESA are referring to caffeine when they use the term ‘doping’.  They are of course referring to drugs like adderall, cocaine, etc.

Kory "Semphis" Friesen
Kory “Semphis” Friesen

Widespread usage in ESL

Having no experience with such drugs myself, i could not tell you from personal experience whether or not they necessarily ‘improve’ your game-play. However in an interview with Kory “Semphis” Friesen, found here, the CS:GO player admitted: “The ESL (Electronic Sports League) comms were kinda funny in my opinion — I don’t even care, we were all on Adderall.” Referring to every player in that tournament. Another player, Tyler Mozingo, also admitted to using Adderall in tournaments illegally in an interview with ESPN. Mozingo went on to attest to the benefits of using Adderall, such as lazer-focus, quicker reaction time, and enhanced alertness and cognitive skills.


Enter WESA and ESIC

WESA, ‘World Esports Association’, and ESIC, ‘Esports Integrity Coalition’, are the eSports communities answer to regulation of drugs and other forms of cheating on the eSports scene. WESA was founded by ESL in May, and ESIC in July. Both companies advocate for fairness and integrity in the scene, and have some pretty impressive sponsors backing them. Companies like Intel and Plantronics, as well as several big teams on the scene such as Na’vi and the recently disbanded Virtus.Pro. Ninjas in Pyjamas member Christopher Alesund remarks,

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the esports industry, and its rapid growth in just a few years has made it very clear: there’s growing and more pressing need to structurize it, both on the tournament organizer’s side as well as on the players’ side. WESA will offer us a platform to do just that – organize our work and careers, build a network of safety, and offer a solution to business and legal disputes.”

But what does this the formation of these organizations mean? Well for starters, teams backing WESA will only participate in tournaments and LAN events that are up to the standards put forth by WESA. Meaning those tournaments must enforce random drug screening, and otherwise make sure their players aren’t cheating. They also take up an opposition against match fixing.


Whether or not these companies are successful in cleaning up the eSports scene is still yet to be seen. The topics discussed by these groups are still relatively new and their actions without precedent. However there is strong belief that they are doing the right thing. If eSports are to be recognized as legitimate sports then they must be regulated and fair. After the white house recently ruled that eSports players could be granted p1 visas, eSports players need to step up and take a stand against drug use and cheating in tournaments and other professional competitions. I feel that watching someone play professionally in eSports using performance enhancers is equivalent to watching someone play through a single player game with cheats. It’s not fun, in fact it defeats the purpose.

Do you think drug use in eSports is a problem or not? I invite you to come talk about it in our forums.


NOTE: Due to an editing Error, this post was published before it was finished, this version represents the completed article


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