Critical Hit: Why drug testing in the Overwatch League is long overdue
The Overwatch League has come under the microscope recently after fellow Dallas Fuel Flex player Timo “Taimou” Kettunen claimed ‘at least 20 players’ in the Overwatch League are regular users of performance-enhancing drugs that can sharpen reaction time and aiming ability on stage. The main drug in question for Overwatch and many other FPS games is the popular prescription drug Adderall. Adding fire to the flame, Dylan ‘aKm’ Bignet has also reiterated his teammates claim on his stream, and believes that several high profile DPS players are guilty of abusing certain ‘enhancers’ to make their skills better on stage.
A growing epidemic?
This ADHD medication has become the subject of concern for a few professional players, and the Commissioner of the Overwatch League Nate Nanzer has remained ignorant on such an issue. Going forward, it’s imperative for the Overwatch League and its high ranking staff to take matters like this seriously for the moral responsibilities they share over the outlook of player health for every single team.
At the moment, long-term risks for usage of certain drugs like Adderall or Ritalin have varying degrees of danger considering the possible risks involved with taking such a drug. One study found that there is a 1 in 500 chance of long-term users suffering from some form of psychosis, with those chances increasing if that kind of behaviour runs in the family. Even with the risks not being completely understood due to not having proper knowledge of brain chemistry for all variables, there’s no denying that running a clean league is important for any sport, whether electronic or physical.
Most of the popular leagues of any legitimate sport do baseline drug testing to ensure other athletes don’t gain unfair advantages over others, and the fact that Overwatch League isn’t willing to play ball rings a lot of alarms. The Overwatch League prided themselves on being more professional and accessible as an esport compared to other games, and not following the right track on this drug issue can be detrimental to their image as time goes on.
Figuring out the facts
While using Adderall or Ritalin may not have the same life altering effects of designer steroids on the market, using it as a performance enhancer to help your ability while competing in a sport against other athletes with similar skill sets should be illegal. The evidence to prove Adderall proficiency when operating electronic devices and needing to focus acutely to ensure success is overwhelming.
There is no doubt that these drugs do something to the brain to enhance certain performances, and those increments of help can be even more crucial at the highest level of play. Many neuroscientists have argued against its use for needs of mental stability, and oftentimes this anti-ADHD medicine can be abused in ways that are simply unethical for a professional gaming league.
Now more than ever, brave people like Taimou are essential to this awareness, and coming out of the dark to shed light on this issue for the fans is a monumental step towards getting some reform. At the end of the day, moving for drug testing for all players in a non-invasive way before performing could be a great initiative that Overwatch League can make in order to legitimize their cause as a top notch esports league.
With six new teams entering the fold this coming year, 2019 has the potential to be the year of innovation for Blizzard and Overwatch as a whole. It is up to them to set the standard of excellence that every other esport can build on over the coming years. Instead of falling behind the curve to more ambitious game titles like Fortnite and CS:GO, Overwatch needs to anticipate the tides and begin making positive moves for the league that can be appreciated by players and fans alike.