E-Sports and its doping problem

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Doping in E-sports is not a new phenomenon, and several players and organizers have previously admitted openly that several prominent gamers who participate in high-intensity gaming leagues take dope in order to enhance their performance and do well for their team and themselves.

As compared to the traditional doping methods, which are very common in the regular sports industry cannot have the same effects and relevance in the esports arena. In the gaming industry, players mostly consume Caffeine and Adderall to keep them nimble and on their edge to beat their opponents.

Talking more about Adderall, it is one of the most common drugs used by professional players. As mentioned above, It makes players stay up late practicing without feeling tired while giving them the focus they need during competitions. Adderall in eSports is not a new thing. According to Adam Sloss, 2013 champion of Call of Duty World, “nobody talks about it because everyone is on it.” Another pro gamer Timo Kettunen also said that there were “20 players or so” who use Adderall in Overwatch League.

One of the prominent issues with doping in E-sports as compared to traditional doping is that it often goes unnoticed as the players of esports, rather than a face-to-face setup like traditional sports, play against each other through a device or devices, which makes it quite difficult to tell that whether a player is under the influence of drugs or not.

While some players take pills to improve their performance, there are a number of players who have complained about having a compulsive disorder, chronic back and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and wrist injuries which forces them to depend on several kinds of medicines and drugs. It must not be forgotten that these players practice day in and day out just to be the best in the business.

Prominent sponsors such as Mercedes Benz, Audi, and Red Bull, among others, select the best players around them and pay them loads of money to represent them in gaming events. The pressure of performing and mental stress to be among the best force a player to look for different options to enhance their performance.

In one of the old interviews with an E-sports tournament organizer located in Germany, the tournament director openly admitted that some of the players use dope and other kinds of substances to enhance their performance in gaming events. “I’ve seen a number of players at national tournaments who came in “baked” (that’s stoned for the uninformed) purely so they could play better,” [Tournament Director Alex Walker] said. “In most cases, they did, although obviously, they couldn’t just pull out another joint midway through. In one WCG, a player I knew took amphetamines an hour before his match to boost his reflexes.”

A few countries, such as Poland and South Korea, have made efforts to stop the illegal practice, with South Korea regulating Esports competitions which include the provision of linking virtual accounts to real people to be able to affix responsibility in cases of the commission of criminal acts. Another Korean Act that punishes offenders who are found guilty of boosting profits is the Game Industry Promotion Act (2006).

Several other anti-cheating software has also been developed recently to reduce the menace of doping in E-sports. An example of such software is Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) which also helps the vigilante team directly track the player’s keyboard and mouse movements to ensure that they reflect what the player is actually doing.