As backlash from comments made by pro Counter-Strike player Kory “Semphis” Friesen about the use of Adderall during pro competitions, the New York Times is reporting the E-Sports League plans to create a drug screening process for e-sports events starting this August.
The league coordinators plan to work in conjunction with two international anti-doping agencies — including the National Anti-Doping Agency of Germany — the same ones that help oversee drug policies for cycling competitions, the Olympics, and other sports. These agencies include a new future for e-sports.
Over the years e-sports competitions have grown in popularity, and is estimated to bring in over $250 million in revenue this year alone. As time goes on that number will only go up, and the ESL want to maintain the integrity of the competition. And there’s a lot of pressure to do so, especially when prize money stakes are expected to exceed $71 million for players. Unlike many other sports, teams and players tend to only see money come their way when they keep winning.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that an interview Semphis had with CEVO caster and Counter-Strike content creator Mohan Govindasamy at the E-Sports World Cup (ESWC) caused a lot of commotion. In the midst of the interview, Semphis commented that he and the rest of his former team, Cloud9, were using Adderall at the ESL competition in Katowice earlier this year.
He went on to comment that everyone uses it in these competitions to try and gain a focused edge on the enemy. Attention deficit drugs like Adderall and Ritalin have indeed been an issue in e-sports in the past few years, but one that has been mostly overlooked or kept quiet. Having it openly commented on as “what everyone does,” though, is bad for business when the sport relies on a lot of money coming in from fans and viewers. Obviously, representatives of Cloud9 have denied the accusation and Semphis may have just forced ESL’s hand with his nonchalant attitude toward the attention-drug abuse.
One difficulty that the ESL faces with this decision is online preliminary matches among competitors. Unlike most traditional sports, e-sports tends to narrow down the competition online before teams are brought out to live events to play against each other. The need for drug testing in the league may require larger, live pre-lim competitions to take place in order to maintain a even playing field for gamers. How much more will that whittle away at potential players and teams who may not be able to fly themselves out to these types of events that will garner no financial gain if they do not make it into the finals? How drastically must the ESL’s events and financing change in order to maintain a sense of fairness among its competitors? Well, we will have to wait and see how the story develops in late August at ESL One in Cologne, Germany.
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