Pro Gaming Goes on TV, Gets Drug Tests

Earlier this year, Major League Gaming announced that it would be airing its competitive gaming tournaments on national television; currently, its Halo 2 2006 season is currently being run weekly on the USA Network. Now, another competitive gaming organization has announced it is joining the televised fray. The World Series of Video Games, which describes itself as "the first international video game competition circuit for multiple game platforms," has announced a deal with network and digital television channels to broadcast tournaments and other content.

On December 30 at 3:00pm, CBS will air a one-hour special entitled They Got Game, focusing on various prominent figures of the competitive gaming world, including well known gamer Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel. CBS subsidiary channel College Sports Television plans to run a five-week series covering the first World Series of Video Games Finals, to be aired at 9:00pm ET on Sundays starting January 21, 2007. It will include games such as Counter Strike 1.6, Quake 4, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, Halo 2, Project Gotham Racing 3, and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Finally, in December and February, the DISH Network-hosted GamePlay HD channel will run various World Series of Video Games tournaments.

With a somewhat more accessible broadcast schedule than the Saturday morning MLG series, as well as its presence across multiple channels, it seems that CBS has greater confidence in the potential mainstream appeal of competitive gaming than USA has with MLG, relegated to Saturday morning broadcasts. Still, as coverage of competitive gaming even among the established gaming community has waned in recent years, it remains to be seen if that confidence is well placed.

In other pro gaming news, TwitchGuru reports that in 2007 the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), a major player in competitive gaming, will potentially begin conducting drug use tests among its players. "The potential for [drugs] being an issue absolutely concerns me," said CPL founder Angel Munoz. "It should concern anybody in eSports, because as the stakes get larger, as in any sport, people will look for an edge." Substances such as crystal methamphetamine and Ritalin are among those said to have been used to give participants a physical advantage in CPL events. The CPL has banned specific substances among its players in the past, but has never before conducted mandatory drug tests. Both illegal and certain prescription drugs will be prohibited. Caffeine-based products such as coffee and energy drinks will not be restricted.

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