Gaming Under the Influence: The Counter-Strike Tournament Scandal

When you see GUI, you probably think of the computer interface (or you don’t, and I’m just a dork). In any case, you may see the acronym come to mean something a little different over the next few months.

A number of articles have swept across the Interwebs over the past few days concerning a scandal that unfolded after a March Counter-Strike tournament. A professional gamer by the name of Kory Friesen (or SEMPHIS, if you’d rather use his player name) admitted that he and his one-time team, Cloud9, were all using Adderall to maintain their focus during the game. The drug is a potentially-addictive, prescription medicine for ADHD that is often abused (especially by college students) to promote long periods of concentration.

(If you want to keep playing for your team, I feel like you probably shouldn’t tell the press that your teammates were doping.)

The tournament was hosted in Poland by the Electronic Sports League (ESL), an international gaming league operating out of Cologne, Germany.

According to an article in the New York Times online, Friesen confessed in an interview with another news source that he and his team had taken Adderall to pull themselves out of a rut, and that the drug proved to hamper their ability to follow directions but to help with the actual shooting. Cloud9 have denied the allegations and have stated that they will allow themselves to be tested for drugs.

As a result of the alleged doping, the ESL, who, according to, have only a very broadly worded restriction on drug-use, will be enacting new, tighter policies in future tournaments, including random drug tests. The NY Times article continued to say that the ESL hopes to work with the National Anti-Doping Agency of Germany, and possibly with the World Anti-Doping Agency, to curb the use of performance-enhancing drugs in their tournaments. Major League Gaming has also stated plans to reexamine their own policies.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before something like this came to light. Anywhere there’s cash at stake, people tend to get ruthless. At the same time, though, it’s good that it did. If professional gaming wants to stand with more traditional sports, it needs to be governed just the same.


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