How Doping Is Casting A Shadow Over The Rise Of eSports

e-doping is becoming a serious concern as gamers look to cut corners on the way to the top
07:01, 06 Nov 2019

Admit it, we’ve all cheated at FIFA. When you’re 4-0 down after half an hour, that games console gets switched off right away.

And yeah, you cause the ire of your mates or that stranger online but imagine if it cost you the potential to earn millions.

That’s the fate that has met one British Fortnite gamer, who has been given a lifetime ban for cheating.

Jarvis Kate, known as FaZe Jarvis, is only 17 years of age but has 2 million Youtube subscribers watching his every move in the gaming world. He didn’t pull any stunts during a competitive match-up, oh no. What he did do, though, is upload videos where he used aimbots - which allow competitors to shoot without taking proper aim.

In a grovelling apology after being banned for life, he sincerely told his 600,000 followers on Twitter: “I'm going to take accountability for my actions and I understand completely why this has happened, I just wish I had known how severe the consequences were at the time and I would have never thought about doing it.”

Lesson learned!

In October, YouTuber Cameron Jeffers was stripped of his title as national cycling eSports champion after he admitted he had upgraded his virtual bike via a simulation program.

Acquiring the ‘Zwift Concept Z1’ requires hard riding for nearly a month. However, Jeffers landed it much more quickly, using a program which faked his avatar to have ridden for many hours at an increased power level.

Having initially insisted his success was down to “hard work” including “many hours watching the best Zwifters race, trying to pick apart the mechanics, memorising courses and working on my tactics,” he soon admitted he had cheated.

Bending the rules with clever hacks seems only the tip of the iceberg though - with e-doping a massive problem for the gaming world.

Banned substances like Adderall and Ritalin are often administered to patients suffering from ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) but, as these drugs are known to improve reflexes and concentration, gamers are allegedly using them to gain a competitive advantage.

Last year, an anonymous player told Eurogamer that Adderall use was "very widespread" in the US eSports scene. 

It is said that eSports officials are concerned the controversy could dent hopes to make eSports a ‘real sport’ among the general public.

Though doping in sports like football, rugby, cricket and athletics will be perceived to be more ‘serious’, eSports is huge business and this issue is just as concerning, with doubts sure to surface over the integrity of the industry.

For gamers, physicality, strength and athleticism does not matter. It is all about the brain. Heightening alertness and concentration is key.

eSports rake in eye-watering revenues - $760m in prize money has been accumulated so far, eSportearnings.com reports, so this is big business and the moral compass of the eSports world cannot be called into question if it is to survive.

While some gamers have secretly admitted using drugs to enhance their game performance, others have dismissed the claims.

Alexander T. Müller, Managing Director of SK Gaming, one of the largest eSports organisations in the world, told Eurogame: "These claims come from people trying to get their five minutes of fame.

"I strongly believe that ADHD is overhyped," he added. "I also believe that Adderall is overhyped too."

However, Bjorn Franzen, who was involved in eSports marketing for nearly 10 years, believes the stakes are so high people could look for any advantage possible.

“Back when tournament prizes consisted of a few graphics cards, a shiny cup and a kiss on the cheek from a hostess, people didn't need to risk their health. But today eSports is a multi-billion dollar industry and the prizes can reach $1m per player in some team games,” he argued.

“If you can be 23 years old with $1m in the bank, life offers you a lot more opportunities. The incentive to find something that gives you an edge is high."

Considering this is a new industry, one that simply didn’t exist in the 20th century, the dos and don’ts are still being ironed out in some cases.

There is a long way to go it seems but the stakes will only continue to rise higher and higher.

Sporting Calendar