The world of eSports is an ever-growing industry, both in terms of popularity and the prize money involved in tournaments. Events such as the League of Legends World Championships not only have tens of millions of online viewers, but also sell out 65,000-seater stadiums for the live event. Meanwhile, Valve’s annual The International competition has now set the record for the largest prize pool in eSports history, with the total money raised currently sitting at over $17 million.
With the increase in stakes, however, comes an even larger temptation for competitors to take whatever steps necessary to succeed. High profile professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players have recently admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs to increase their chances in matches. Pro player Cory ‘Semphis’ Friesen revealed that his entire team was on Adderall during a recent tournament, a drug used to treat the likes of ADHD and narcolepsy.
Now, it seems as though eSports organizations are planning to take notice of the use of these performance enhancers. According to a report from Motherboard, The Electronic Sports League has decided to introduce a new policy surrounding the use of drugs at its events. ESL’s head of communications Anna Rozwandowicz explains that the organization has “taken steps to move forward with drugs policing, education, and prevention” among competitors.
The ESL will be the first of the major eSports organizations to take such steps, with other groups including the League of Legends Championship Series yet to comment on the recent controversy. However, it would not be surprising to see other championships move towards similar measures. After all, Adderall not only gives users an increased energy rate, but the psychostimulant also has addictive properties that come with prolonged use.
In spite of Friesen’s comments, however, the ESL is not going to take any retrospective action against the player or his team. “We have no way of knowing whether Semphis, despite what he said, has actually taken Adderall or not,” said Rozwandowicz, explaining that the eSports organization could not punish someone if it was not 100% sure of their guilt. “As we have no way to test it anymore (we’re four months after the event), we won’t take action in this specific case,” continued Rozwandowicz.
There are, of course, a number of factors to work out before drug testing can become a regular occurrence at eSports events. With Adderall a popular drug of choice for ADHD treatment, the ESL will need to give clear guidelines on legitimate use for sufferers of the disorder. Given the apparent widespread use of prescription drugs in tournaments, however, such steps may well be necessary sooner rather than later.