Drug use in esports


Three Instances Where Pros Confirmed Performance Enhancing Drugs' Prevalence in Esports

Abhimannu Das
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Drug use in esports is an issue that is very difficult to tackle, especially with esports heading into an online-only era.
Call of Duty League, Overwatch League, and ESL events have been allegedly tainted with drug use.
The logistics of safe testing is far too arduous and stakeholders in the industry need to identify a way to ensure competitive integrity.

Drug use is an issue that is often neglected in esports. Pro players have brought up the issues multiple times in the past and progress has also been made with organizations like the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) setting up anti-doping guidelines. The global pandemic has pushed esports towards an online-only era, which is making controlling drug use very difficult. From Overwatch League to Call of Duty League, drug use has affected the highest levels of competition according to statements by pro players. Here are the top three instances where top pros talked about drug use in esports.

1. Call of Duty 2020 World Champion "Huke" Opened Up About Drug Use

LA Thieves player, Cuyler "Huke" Garland talked about drug use in esports and how he struggled with the pressure of competitive esports.

Huke said that he won champs while he was using Adderall and he did not feel good about it. He said, “On the inside, I was very grateful for winning. But those couple of days afterward, I didn’t feel good. It was mainly because of one thing, I, at the time, was taking Adderall.” Huke opened up about the negative effects of drug use and he has been able to get away from the cycle of competitive pressure and drug dependency.

2. Former Cloud9 CS:GO player "Semphis" claimed that his entire team was on Adderall

Kory "Semphis" Friesen claimed that during his time at Cloud9, they were all taking the psychostimulant Adderall during a professional tournament. He admitted during an interview in 2015 saying that, “The ESL comms were kinda funny in my opinion. I don't even care, we were all on Adderall." Mohan "launders" Govindasamy suggested during the interview that “everyone” at the E-Sports Entertainment Association takes the drug, to which Semphis replied “yeah”.

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Semphis’ claims were never confirmed by his ex-teammates, but it stirred up the topic of drug use in esports. Six years have passed since the interview, and not much progress has been made to curb the issue in esports.

3. Overwatch League’s "Taimou" stated that "probably" 20 OWL players were on Adderall in 2018

Former Dallas Fuel player, Timo “Taimou” Kettunen revealed that over 20 Overwatch League players were on Adderall back in 2018. Former Evil Geniuses CEO and TI5 Champion Peter "ppd" Dager responded to Taimou stating that some esports players think that it is their ticket into competitive play. The Overwatch League (OWL) commissioner, Nate Nanzer revealed at the time that they have "yet to see a scientific report studied that says that there's any substance that makes you better at playing video games."

The response led to a debate on whether Adderall provides a competitive advantage to players in the first place. It remains to be seen if stakeholders in esports take drug use in the industry seriously or if the challenges of bringing drug use under control becomes too difficult to tackle.

To know more about drug use in esports, with insights from Dr. Ian Tan of The Gaming Company, check out our opinion on why nobody talks about this matter in the public domain.

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Abhimannu is a part of the content team at AFK Gaming and a lifelong obsessive gamer. He currently covers esports titles like VALORANT, CS: GO, Call of Duty, Fortnite, PUBG and more.