With professional tournaments attracting bigger and bigger prize funds, players are eager to gain an edge over their opponents. The Electronic Sports League is taking steps to ensure that doesn't include the use of prescription medication.
The ESL, based in Cologne, Germany, is one of several groups to host and organize high-level tournaments around the world.
Pro teams converge for regional qualifiers, season-based leagues, and knockout tournaments, with favoured games including lightning-fast strategy Starcraft II, team-based tactical shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, free arena battler League of Legends and digital card game Hearthstone.
Substantial prize pots encourage teams to train harder and think faster. At March's ESL One tournament for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, (CS:GO) there was US$100,000 of a US$250,000 pot set aside for the five-person winning team, but recent comments from one of the circuit's top players shone a light on the role of performance-enhancing medication.
"We were all on Adderall... it was pretty obvious if you listened to [team communications]," said ex-Cloud9 team member Kory Friesen in an interview with CS:GO expert Mohan Govindasamy. "Everyone does Adderall at [eSports Entertainment Association] events, right?" Mohan responded.
The anti-ADHD pharmaceutical is famous for boosting mental focus, but side effects include increased talkativeness, irregular heartbeats, mood changes, insomnia, and appetite loss.
As a result, the ESL told Vice.com that it would "move forward with drugs policing, education, and prevention among participants" as eSports continues its meteoric rise.
Over the last five years, eSports has become a huge draw for dedicated players looking to make good on their invested time and talents.
The scene's two biggest monetary contributors have been Dota 2, whose August tournament, The International, will draw from a fan-funded pool of over US$17mil (RM64.82mil), and League of Legends, which delivered a US$1mil (RM3.81mil) payout to its 2014 World Champions.
Both popular titles are free to download and play, but since 2010 the pair have offered over US$50mil (RM190.65mil) in prize money according to esportsearnings.com.
Similarly, the scene's next biggest games, StarCraft II and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, require a modest one-time outlay to purchase the retail game.
Improved access to livestreamed events, particularly via Amazon's Twitch.TV, has facilitated the growth of the eSports audience and, with many viewing from desktop computers, there are only a few mouse clicks between watching a game and chasing the dream yourself. – AFP Relaxnews