July 24, 2015
Some friends and a few journalists that contacted and congratulated me asked for a public statement from my side about the recent development around doping in eSports. This is what I have to say.
As the only professional in the eSport scene I stood up and openly talked about PED abuse in eSports when I published my article about doping in eSports almost exactly a year ago.
All the esports journalists, team owners and tournament organizers who knew of this kept quiet. As soon as the topic gained traction on Reddit and media outlets started reporting on it I got a lot of calls and E-Mails.
Raising awareness of something that is important to you and can interrupt other people’s business and cuts into their profits almost always comes at a price.
The next day I got multiple anonymous calls on my mobile phone, in the office and even at home at night to take down the article or I quote “bad things will happen to you and your family”. People who know me also know that the only thing I’m afraid of is God. So I told them to come at me and take their shots, I’ll not change my opinion or hide the truth because someone is threatening my friends and family or me. I thank God every day that I’m blessed with friends who treat me as part of the family, have my back and do whatever is necessary to protect me.
The only thing I did was to take down the Google maps with my home address and phone number on this blog as a precaution to avoid further calls to my home location.
And they tried to come after me. I got sued, ignored in the hopes this whole thing will go away, and some officials even threatened to stop working with sponsors that make use of my experience as an eSport consultant when they need me and started discrediting me with journalists and media to bury me. The vice president for pro gaming for ESL, Michael Blicharz who I know from my time working with SK Gaming when he was working as an esports journalist tried to make the ped abuse look small and insignificant and deny it is even a problem in the first place in the Eurogamer article I was interviewed for by Simon Parkin.
After coming back from a job in a remote area without Internet this week I`ve seen the video interview with a player finally stepping up and putting weight behind the allegations.
The following reaction was no surprise for me.
With the recent acquisition of a 74% share in ESL by Swedish digital entertainment giant Modern Times Group (MTG) for €78M this turned into a PR nightmare and possible devaluation for ESL rather quickly. So ESL put a gag on Michael Blicharz and let the PR Department do their job.
“The integrity of our sport is and always will be our biggest concern,” says Anna Rozwandowicz, head of communications at ESL. “When we first saw [Friesen’s comments], we focused immediately on kickstarting a policy-making process and adjusting the rules. We have worked on changes in our rules, reached out to authorities for support, and will be ready to announce our next steps in a couple of days. When that comes out, you can treat that as our full statement on the issue.”
Yesterday the ESL published an announcement that put a smile on my face. “ESL leads anti-PED initiative for esports with the support of NADA“.
While this does not say what is tested for exactly, how these tests are going to take place, if they test for other substances like cocaine or THC, it’s a good step in the right direction. Just let’s not forget that this comes right after a multi-million dollar acquisition, only under the pressure of a possible company devaluation, and with a Managing Director, who clearly has no idea what’s going on in his house.
What does this mean for me? I’m in talks with a documentary crew and will probably produce an in-depth documentary about Doping in eSports within the next 12 – 18 months. This is most likely going to be a project without the intention to make a single dollar out of it. I’m still looking for funding options and if the community wants to see something like this or not.
From August last year until today, fighting for a clean eSport has cost me a lot of energy, a nice chunk of money in legal fees and I got a few grey hairs over the potential threat to my family and how serious I need to take those threats.
I’ll continue raising awareness of the problem, try to advise a healthy lifestyle to players and fans alike and will keep monitoring and if necessary criticizing how and if doping controls will be established in a way where they make sense or if this is just another PR stunt of the ESL. I don’t think skin swab tests are an adequate solution, there is a reason they are not valid as evidence in court and known to have a lot of false positives but I’m also not an expert on the topic, so I’ll try to talk to a Toxicology professor who knows more about that next week.
But for today, V is for Victory.
Personal blog of Bjoern Franzen
Marketer, eSport consultant and Developer