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October 17, 2029
The entire L.A. Lightning eSports team has been suspended for the balance of the Kraken IV season following positive drug tests for Kwik, a banned intelligence and mental speed boosting drug.
“We run clean games at Kraken IV,” league commissioner Ivy Lang said in a press conference this morning. “No teams are above the law, even the top teams in the league.”
L.A. Lightning, the highest-paid team on the planet, has long been controversial.
eSports kingpin Drake Owen put the team together five years ago, luring the best gamers from seven different eSports leagues with the highest player salaries in history. Top team member D3r3k 37 would have made over $75 million this season alone, and the massive payouts have prompted calls from other team owners for a league-wide salary cap.
Now, however, D3r3k 37 and all other L.A. Lightning teammates will forfeit all salary for the year, and team owner Owen will be forced to pay the largest team fine in league history: $100 million.
“This was a systematic effort by the team,” Commissioner Lang said. “A doctor with the program revealed everything.”
The banned drug, Kwik, is a nootropic that has long been shown to increase intelligence, mainly by speeding up brain function and accelerating reaction time. Side effects, however, include headaches and an increased risk for brain cancer. Unsubstantiated reports indicate several heavy users have also experience heavy brain bleeding leading to multiple strokes and eventual death.
Owen’s methods were long questioned by other eSports teams, but to this point concerns have largely been attributed to envy.
L.A. Lightning has won the Kraken IV cup the last three seasons, a result Owen had said was simply the result of selecting the best, treating them the best, and training the hardest. Lightning team members live on five floors of Owen’s residential tower in Beverly Hills, and are famously pampered. According to one former team member, the plumbing water is Evian, the food is prepared and served by a team of Michelin-starred executive chefs, and the suites are largely decorated with gold and platinum furniture.
Owen did not hold a press conference or respond to inquiries, but did release a short statement via eSports Times:
“There seem to be penalties for success in the Kraken IV league. I have no doubt my team will be vindicated shortly, and we will return to capture the cup again this season. While I respect Commissioner Owen, she has overstepped her authority here, and the L.A. Lightning legal team will be taking this matter to the courts.”