Will Esports need to start taking drug use seriously? | EMEA
Will Esports need to start taking drug

I’ve written several times about the growth of e-Sports. We are now reaching the status of a mainstream entertainment medium, but many people are still unaware of how big it is because most of the major TV networks still don’t cover it.

e-Sport players don’t need traditional TV networks anyway. Many more people use online channels, such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming, to view their gaming. Traditional TV network viewing figures are dwarfed by most of these online gaming channels.

And with big e-Sport events now attracting arena-size crowds and millions of dollars in prize money, gaming has become a serious business featuring professional gamers organised into teams. 

But the recent confession by professional gamer Kory Friesen, known as Semphis, that he used the attention-disorder drug Adderall as a performance enhancer has created shock-waves in this young sport. The Electronic Sports League (ESL), an e-Sports league based in Europe and featuring over five million gamers, has announced that gamers at their events will now be subjected to the same type of drug tests enforced on Olympic athletes.

The ESL rules will not apply to gamers away from competition, but from the first day to the final day of any ESL competition they can be randomly tested at any times under the new regime. The ESL said in a statement that they want to encourage fair play and the integrity of their competitions.

It’s an understandable approach. With individual gaming prizes now in the region of half a million dollars, this type of sport is already more lucrative than most mainstream sports – certainly more so than most Olympic sports. I expect that other international e-Sports leagues will take note of the ESL approach to drugs and will adopt their own similar restrictions.

Formalizing an approach to dealing with drugs in this way is one more step towards legitimising e-Sports as mainstream entertainment. The audience is already out there and watching. If the integrity of those who win these enormous prizes can be assured then I’m sure that these events are going to cross over to the mainstream extremely soon.

What do you think about drug testing in e-Sports? Leave a comment here or get in touch directly via my profile.

Photo by Maxime Fort licensed under Creative Commons.

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