"We should all change the way things are": Virtus.pro GM talks doping and cheating in esports
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"We should all change the way things are": Virtus.pro GM talks doping and cheating in esports

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Written by: Roman "@dvoryrom" Dvoryankin

I believe that yesterday’s decision by the I.O.C. to ban Russia from the 2018 Olympic Games should become an important signal for the esports community across the globe. As the General manager of Virtus.pro organization in the last 18 months I visited several Dota 2, CS:GO, LoL and Quake tournaments. One thing that has stroke me most is the lack of proper doping and anti-cheating control. This is the moment when we should all change the way things are.

I will start with doping. Before joining VP, for more than 10 years I was working in sports business. I know what sort of impact can be leveraged by using legal modern pharmaceutical technologies: faster recovering after a hard away game, more sustainable training process and stuff like that. But even more can be achieved by using doping, that’s why there’s always been someone who doesn’t want to play fair.

We all see how esports is starting to become attractive to the companies that have never invested in our industry before: Visa deal with SK Gaming, Astralis partnership with Audi, Gillette sponsorship of IEM Katowice are just a few examples. Now all these corporate guys want to be part of something modern, cool and transparent. Think about cycling: the whole industry was about to collapse after constant doping scandals in the early 2000s due to lack of proper sponsorship support, no one wanted to be associated with a sport on drugs. After her doping ban in 2016, Maria Sharapova lost several multi-million partnerships deals as companies don’t support athletes on drugs.

I’m a big fan of Formula 1 and have been following it for the last 25 years. I remember several cases when even the most iconic teams have been banned for technical cheating: using illegal aero dynamical elements, putting something in their tanks to make fuel more efficient, etc. Esports is similar because if your gear is more efficient, if you can find out whether your opponent is rushing B or entering the Roshpit, you get an amazing advantage.

Right now, tournaments trust the players and I’m sure most of the teams don’t do anything illegal. However, there’s nothing absolute and I don’t believe that during 100+ games played at the best Dota 2 and CS:GO LANs every year no one ever tried to cheat. By cheating I don’t mean military-grade technologies. The tournaments don’t even do proper metal checks, they simply grab players’ phones without checking if they have another one in their pocket or maybe wear a smart watch that can receive signals from the audience. I was disappointed at the level of control at TI, the famous “clean booths” backstage were pretty capable of letting the players bring something illegal to the real booths on the stage.

When we released a video of Filip "NEO" Kubski taking a drug test at ESL One New York a couple of months ago, a lot of my friends actually asked if doping is something that can boost your performance in esports. Let’s be fair to each other — it can, and the whole community needs to make sure it doesn’t spread to our industry. I am urging tournament organizers across the globe to take measures and tighten drug testing procedures as well as apply additional control in terms of technical cheating. Right now, the best CS:GO teams are working on the specific measures together with WESA, we will hopefully release a list of measures that will be implemented on WESA sanctioned events in 2018 to establish fair play rules for everyone.

At the end of the day this is not only about money. It’s the reputation of our shareholders, it’s the health of our players, it’s the unforgettable emotions of the fans across the globe that might be ruined when they realize that amazing victories of their favorite teams have been fueled by Adderall.

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