Adderall and esports go together like steroids and baseball.
Adderall has long been the performance enhancing drug of choice for gamers. Its ability to help players unlock their fullest potential to focus on the game they’re playing is undeniable. Its accessibility by the means of abused prescriptions and dark net avenues allows it to be significantly easier to obtain. Its acceptance that borderlines on requirement in esports means that it won’t be going anywhere.
Players have been taking medications meant for ADHD/ADD medication, even beta-blockers, as performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to provide additional enhancements or controlling influences at a chemical level. From games that constantly require precise inputs to titles that demand perfect reactions, a little bit of something like Adderall goes a long way. Just as a college student might preface an all-nighter with the drug, amateur to professional esports players might do the same to stay at their best during late-night tournaments.
This week, it seems the topic of esports professionals’ continued use of PEDs has resurfaced thanks to a certain video interview that has been making the rounds in the wake of ESWC Montreal 2015. The newsworthy bit below is part of a response regarding semphis’ last performance with Cloud9.
semphis: The ESL comms were kinda funny… in my opinion. I don’t even care — we were all on Adderall. Like, I don’t even give a fuck. Like, it was pretty obvious, like, if you listen to the comms. Like, people can hate it or whatever.
Launders: Everyone does Adderall at ESEA LAN, right?
L: Just throwing that out there for the fans. That’s how you get good.
s: And you can hear it in the comms, right? Like, that’s what’s so funny to me. It’s like “yo what is y’all’s shit’s comms so hectic?” So, that might clear up some the questions of why it was like that. So, of course. Yeah.
PED use in esports has been considered a given by many veterans in the scene, especially tournament players. Richard Lewis, a journalist that has been involved in the scene longer than most anyone that’s still active, has heard player confessions to using PEDs for the sake of competitive matches. The video (below) of his perspective on the whole situation is worth a play to get a lay of the land on the status quo.
“NA teams and Adderall just go hand-in-hand — it’s synonymous. Anyone telling you otherwise is flat-out lying to you.”
Now, I’m on the same page as Richard, insofar that I don’t want to see the scene devolve to grabbing pitchforks and demanding every pro player to disclose any illicit drug use with the intent to enhance their performance. However, I agree with Richard that we’ll be seeing more evidence that tournament organizers will be taking note and enforcing drug provisions of their rules in the coming months.
I mean, I still find it odd that for such a drug to be considered so essential to the scene, no organizing body has tried to restrict it or enforce rules they already have on the books.
For example: the organizer of the event that semphis references when he’s recalling an instance of Adderall use, ESL, has rules about player use of drugs, recreational or otherwise:
2.6.4 Drugs and Alcohol
To play a match, be it online or offline, under the influence of any drugs, alcohol, or other performance enhancers is strictly prohibited, and may be punished with exclusion from the ESL One.
As this time, ESL hasn’t commented or issued a statement about semphis’ admission to using Adderall. Even if you interpret the others referenced in the statement to include Cloud9, what are the odds that an organization in the scene will begin to selectively enforce a rule that has been largely ignored for years?
I think they’re pretty much zero unless the esports community has started a run on pitchforks since I’ve started writing this post.
Another situation to consider: the definition of illicit drug use is — albeit slowly — changing across this country and around the world. Legislatures of states and territories of the United States are considering new laws every year with regards to legal access to cannabis or addressing the penalty for possessing contraband drugs.
It makes me wonder if the esports demographic, which I’m going to assume has a more liberal disposition than I do with regards to drugs, will even bother raising any exception to the use of something as relatively pedestrian in the drug scene as Adderall. I would imagine that today’s typical high school student would hold doping and steroid use in sports such as bicycle racing and baseball to be more deserving of a punishment than a gamer taking Adderall.
I suspect we’ll see that side of the community start getting vocal when one of the organizers begin to enforce a comprehensive drug testing program and end up issuing the first competitive exclusions.