No More Smoking Weed During Pro Video Game Tournaments

No More Smoking Weed During Pro Video Game Tournaments

Are you a professional Counter-Strike or Heroes of the Storm player who likes to, as the kids say, indulge in the reefer? You’ll have to hold off during professional ESL tournaments, according to new rules posted last night by a representative for the eSport organisation.

In a post on Reddit yesterday, ESL’s PR boss Anna Rozwandowicz explained that this new drug policy will follow the basic rules laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The policy will prohibit marijuana during tournaments hosted by the ESL, which works with all sorts of big games including StarCraft II and Halo. It will still be fine for pro players to light up bowls during their free time — they just can’t do it during tournament days.

This new policy comes in the wake of a series of high-profile incidents revolving around eSports and drug use. Last month, a professional Counter-Strike player alleged that he and many other players had been using the ADHD drug Adderall, which is also included in this new drug policy. In cases where a player actually has a prescription for something like Adderall, the ESL will request doctors’ notes as proof.

You’d might think smoking pot would dull one’s senses and slow down reaction time, making a player worse at video games that require intense concentration and snappy reflexes, but hey.


  • I know some won’t agree with this but the simple fact is, if we want pro-gaming to be held up to the same respect levels as other sports, then it has to abide by the same standards. I’m not necessarily anti-weed (I’m notl), but the fact of the matter is, as ‘professional athletes’, they’re representative of something and have to set ‘a standard’.

    • Sadly no studies can directly prove performance enhancing abilities of Weed. It’s just not understood well enough.

      • Oh there’s one way it can definitely ‘enhance’ one aspect lol. I’m saying this for real too lol. One guy I used to fight alongside in tournaments a few years ago (martial arts), used to have a doobie before his rounds out in the parking lot under the guise of ‘having a smoke’. Simply did it to ‘take the pain away’ from being hit lol.

        • Wow hahaha. Let me tell you I’ve done Jits.. I train in Kettlebells.. smoking weed does not take the pain away, if anything it enhances it imo. You’d be better of wacking a Fentanyl patch on, which is what body builders do to endure muscle tears etc.

          • lol I don’t doubt it. I haven’t smoked in years, my epilepsy plays up when I do now I’ve gotten older (in my late 30s now) and my chosen career I don’t want to risk any issues this early on. But yeah, I never tried it and it always sounded a bit peculiar, I just thought it was more an excuse to toke up lol.

          • Yep ahahaha I think it’s just another case of I am going to do something hard… better treat myself ahaha

      • TO THE LAB!!! I will need weed, cookies, video games and a soft doona for nap time……..I will have the results as soon as I feel like writing them down.

    • So by your definition a lot of x games athletes aren’t professionals because they get baked? 🙂

      It seems a bit silly really when you think about it sensibly…

      • Strawman argument. Terrible one at that. If people want esports to be taken seriously its time for it to take itself seriously. Not a hard concept.

        • So you don’t take athletes who compete in x games seriously? Come on man you’re reaching pretty hard… It’s only a straw man argument because you either disagree or you think x games is amateur sports!

          Especially when you’re talking about a drug that will come up positive well after the user is no longer under the influence…

          • I havent said anything at all and all youre doing is a whole load of assuming and strawmanning. Keep going though its amusing.

  • Has any athlete ever been found guilty of marijuana use? I’m interested to know why this specifically has been included in the drug policy, apart from the fact it’s a (mostly) illegal substance.

    What benefit in regular or eSports would one gain from using this before playing? Making defeat more tolerable?

    • Here’s a prior case re: Marijuana use in sport:

      Basically it can’t be proven as a enhancer. It’s a mood regulator at best, but no more so than Caffeine, benzo’s or ritalin… all of which they can apparently consume. Imo it should be for amphetamine use as those are the only recreational drugs that could remotely assist in attention and more reflexes.

      I used to smoke before BF Vietnam tournaments, and was in a high ranked clan. Was no different in my eyes to downing a case of Red Bull.

    • The only professional incident I can think of was when Canadian Ross Rebagliati was stripped of his Gold medal in the Men’s Snowboarding Giant Slalom at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics after testing positive to THC in his system. The medal was reinstated 3 days later after it was pointed out marijuana wasn’t on the list of WADA banned substances. It has since been added.

      Again whether or not it’s an enhancer is not what it’s about. Also surprisingly I’ve had quite a lot of mates play FPS’ and RTS’ better because they’re able to regulate their mood with the pot. Personally I like a nice Whisky whilst I’m playing 😉

        • No Probs! I’d forgotten they gave him the medal back hahaha. It’s a very interesting saga to be honest. I’m still not sold on weed being as safe as some people say it is, but it’s no worse than any substance people use too much regardless of legality (I drink too much booze for example).

          • What is a human without a vice anyway? We all abuse something whether we like to acknowledge it or not. I mean to be a pro gamer to start with you have to be abusing your body to a degree. You neglect posture, time of day, sleep etc. for the sake of better stats?

          • weed is apparently not unhealthy, studies have found that tobacco is far more dangerous. I would argue though that what one does whilst stoned might be more dangerous to your health.

          • I’d disagree with that. Not everyone will react in the same way and that degree of the unknown is what can make it a bit dangerous. More importantly in my personal experience I’ve seen what I would class as serious side effect from longterm pot smokers. They just aren’t anywhere near as engaged with those around them.

            I’m not saying everyone will be affected in the same way, but I certainly think this belief that THC isn’t bad for you is not true.

          • @ashigaru

            As far as drugs go it is safe compared to some of the other things out there, that being said any drug still has risks involved with taking them. I haven’t looked at specific data or anything like that but as far as I know there is a small percentage of people that can react extremely badly to pot (drug induced psychosis sort of stuff), as well as prolonged use causing your body to stop producing dopamine because you are getting an external source. As I said I have not actually looked into this im just going by what friends have mentioned to me over the years so I could be way off the mark and am happy for someone to correct me if that’s the case.

          • @stretch Yeah mate, compared to manufactured/more potent drugs it’s definitely not as bad. But again, as you’ve said, different reactions for different people! I personally stay away due to my susceptibility to substance abuse in my family/myself. My Great-Granddad was the biggest Chinese stereotype ever, lost his money gambling and was prone to opium use. So bad hahaha.

    • Weed (or more specifically the chemicals in it) are banned substances for most combat sports, certainly for Mixed Martial Arts. There’s dozens of guys within the UFC/ MMA community generally who’ve been busted with small quantities of marijuana in their bloodstream around fight time and suspended.

      When it comes to gaming, from personal experience (that a friend told me):
      • It makes some single player games absolutely awesome (GTA V in first person mode? +100),
      • It makes thinking games much a harder (No X-Com)
      • It ruins the story of anything that you need to pay attention to (you don’t want to wake up and realise you finished 2 episodes of Telltale’s Game of Thrones and can’t remember anything that happened)
      • It makes me slightly worse at everything except Trials…. I have no idea why.
      • It makes #idarb, Mashed and generally anything 4 player the best games ever if you’ve got mates around.

      • Nick Diaz got popped if I’m not wrong? Again he shouldn’t have been, if you can beat someone in a fight while ripped, you shouldn’t lose your title or medal or whatever. If anything you are hindering your ability to correctly release adrenaline. Not performance enhancing in a fight sport.

        • Nick Diaz is the poster child for the MMA weed failure.

          He beat Takanori Gomi in 2007 when he was considered the best lightweight in the world (with a submission called a ‘Gogoplata’ that you’d have to be stoned to even attempt at that level) and then had the win overturned.

          He also got busted after two UFC fights which he lost, the second of which came after they changed the rules so he could have four times as much weed in his system and he still failed.

          I think there needs to be rules in place to ensure that you’re not high at all when entering the cage. Just for the protection of the fighter as much as anything, in the same way you can’t fight when you’re drunk. Outside of that it’s a bit ridiculous though, it’s certainly not helping anyone train unfairly when they aren’t competing.

          • Dude thanks! That was an extremely rad response, was not expecting that. Legit thanks!

            I’m not as versed on the MMA world as other on here.

  • Professional darts players cant drink beer and now this……… be honest the better players should be made to smoke weed to even out the competition.

  • That’s because everyone that smokes weed in an attempt to understand performance enhancing abilities settle for a bag of chips and the couch instead.

    • At this stage no. Without breath testing on the spot when it starts, there would be no point, blood tests would depend on when consumed etc. etc. Not to mention if you win drunk, you sir are a god amongst insects ahahah.

      • Wouldn’t the same be said about winning when you were high? It worsens your reactions, clouds your critical thinking…

        I mean… if it was a giggling championship then I’d get it… but it just seems silly to ban something that in of itself disadvantages you.

        • Like any drug tolerance is always a factor. I smoke, daily, I’m open about it. I don’t get the paranoia or giggles, haven’t done since shortly after starting at 19.

          Reaction times aren’t affected how you’d think. Hyper Priming changes the way the neurons in the brain communicate on repetitive tasks. So if you game high, and keep doing so, your brain will begin to relate the THC to gaming, then to motor functions, then to attention, thus becoming more acutely reactive.

          Again with critical thinking, it really depends on person etc.

          • I used to game high alot when I was a bit younger, and I agree that with increased tolerance you tend not to see the negative impacts as severe…

            But I can’t see it being an advantage. Take music, for example – creativity is the primary objective, while the technical ability takes a backseat. This is why so many musicians (and artists, for that matter) find pot as a source of inspiration.

            Compare that to sport, or esports in particular. You need your technical ability to be 100%. You need perfect reaction times, and quick critical decision making. Sure, creativity plays a part, but not to the same extent as in more, well, creative pursuits.

            Yes, maybe you come up with some creative play in CS, but if the other guy reacts quick and shoots more accurately, you are still going to lose.

          • Creativity is one aspect. Enhanced motor function, heightened reaction times etc. can come from repetition. A lot NBA players smoke weed, in fact they protest for it to be taken off the banned list. They openly use before playing, no one really does anything.

            Basically weed can be different for everyone. But from findings (that I know of) it can also enhance your ability beyond that of others with specific motor tasks.

  • Why is weed the focus of the article?! The ban is more about other drugs, it’s not like smoking weed at ESL is even a big thing.

    To me this article just makes us all out to be potheads.

    • It’s the focus as no other drug can be taken outside of game days. There not going to say ‘You can have a point of speed a few days before, but not on the day’.. they were answering a specific question. Also note that if you refer to the article on Reddit, they have singled out Marijuana from all other drugs to have caveats. Therefore highlighting that they are treating it differently.

      Also in Aus at least, near 15% of the population under 35 use the substance. That’s not a small number.

  • “No smoking during tournament days”. Well, pot doesn’t leave your system for 30 days after ingestion – and if they use hair follicles it’s detectable until you’ve had a haircut which lops off any hair you had since your last smoke.
    So it’s a blanket ban on THC registers or a pointless operation. I think if stoners were cut out of professional gaming competitions the standard of play would drop dramatically.

    • My understanding is it will be swab tests. These can only detect Marijuana use with several hours of smoking. If it is follicles or blood, then they need to just outright ban, as you have stated it won’t be out of their systems.

      • Swab tests are notoriously unreliable, though. If they’re doing it in order to confidently eliminate any adulterants in their competitors, they need to do piss tests, like every other sporting organization does.

        • Can vouch for swab test being unreliable. Less than 15 mins after my last cone, was swab tested and cleared through a drug testing station. Admittedly this was several years ago (I think close to 6 or 7 years ago), so things may have changed in the testing process, but I should mention I didn’t do anything to try and cover it up (food or bevs, even mylanta).

          • I’ve heard similar time and time again. Hence why they aren’t popping up as much. They seem to focus on Amphetamine use in QLD more than anything.

          • I’ve had the driver stoned and passed, while everyone else in the car – all straight – coming back positive. All swab tests are good for is letting them know how goddamn useless they really are. It’s the same with detection dogs – minor cannabis cautions is all they ever nab.

  • My larger question would be, if the tournament is occurring in a city where Marijuana is legalised medicinally then could one not exploit this clause:

    What if a player has a legitimate prescription for medication (such as Adderall) containing one or more of the banned substances?
    In this case, they have to disclose this to us as soon as possible, but no later than the first match is scheduled to start. They will be required to provide proof (a letter from a physician, for example) that they need this specific medication.

    So if I have a prescription for it, does that mean it would be allowed. Most people on Adderall don’t need it, much like the drug provigil.

      • Exactly the point. Many drugs can be legally given if desired enough, doesn’t make them right. Basically in the world of gaming it will be a hard sell to test for drugs/make people take it seriously.

        If you want to do something good for the sport, ban energy drink sponsorship!

        • Don’t forget though, a lot of medication that you or I can buy over the counter is banned to professional athletes. EG, all Pseudoephedrine based cold and flu medication is off the cards even though I’m sure most of us have had it when we’re sick!

          It’s all a little silly I think. We need to have a contest where everyone is doped up as possible to make super men and women hahaha.

          • funded by the pharmaceutical companies making the drugs the games would most likely turn a bigger profit than the olympics.

          • AND BE SO FUN TO WATCH. Ahem. Sorry, I’m still thinking of the Futurama olympics I think it was where a competitor got banned for NOT doping. Best ^_^

          • ha.. i think weve already reached that point. we dont need to have a contest like that cause theyre already like that.
            its not about doping vs not doping anymore – its about doping and not getting caught.

            look at pro bodybuilders, all of them, every single one takes steroids, and they compete in ‘drug free’ competitions where they get tested.
            theres plenty of examples where they practically openly admit it as well, behind a little bit of innuendo.

  • It’s an illegal drug. I don’t care whether it enhances or not – people at the pointy end of the field in any sport, are role models. People see them as people that should be emulated. If that holds true, and the organisation (ESL in this case) doesn’t flex the tiny amount of muscle they have to try and protect the members, it may as well endorse the issue in question. Sure, you can drag all sorts of illegal activities into this, and argue the point where it happened in other sports, but in the end, illegal things do bad things to the sport, as well as the athlete/team in question. Not just in sponsorship either.

    • It’s only illegal in some countries. Hell it’s decriminalised in two states in Australia. Hence the defensive stance by some of us. I also don’t believe the Role Model title as the average age for gamers is about 32… and I don’t know many people our age looking up to a 17 kid playing LoL.

      But I get your point.

  • This is so weird. Adderall I can understand, since it will act as an upper and stimulant for a lot of people, but weed? Jesus christ.

  • You’d might think smoking pot would dull one’s senses and slow down reaction time, making a player worse at video games that require intense concentration and snappy reflexes, but hey.
    Different effects on different people.
    Me personally, I can barely play sober BUT i play ONLY for fun

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