In the rapidly expanding world of gaming, AI in Esports is starting to play a more significant role in shaping Esports and the gaming industry. Esports is highly data-driven, and it is a natural fit for AI to play an integral role within the gaming segment.
AI-driven assistants are being used to provide elite gamers with a tactical advantage over their opponents. With the help of AI Coaches, gamers are also allowed to learn better strategies and improve their gaming styles. AI bots are providing gamers with tailor-made recommendations on video games.
If this topic of Esports and AI has gotten your attention, then read on to further learn about the impact that AI will have on the future of Esports.
AI In Esports Is Being Used
According to the Global Esports Market Report, global Esports revenues grew to $950m in 2019. In 2020, revenues reached $1.1 billion, and for 2022 that figure is expected to grow beyond $2 billion!
The entire Esports industry represents only 1% of the whole gaming market. With just 1% of gaming is represented by the Esports industry, this leaves a large gap within the Esports segment to be disrupted.
We live in disruptive times when new industries are increasingly rising to international levels. The Esports industry is one of the segments that are in the process of being disrupted.
In 2019, the NFL Superbowl viewership was beaten by the 2019 League of Legends World Championship, which gathered as many as 45.95 million peak concurrent viewers (PCU). In addition, there were over 1 billion hours of competitions watched for the duration of the League of Legends tournament.
Machine learning and big data are altering the billion-dollar Esports industry. Artificial intelligence in gaming vastly alters player/athlete performance, game design, conversational assistants, and the discovery of new strategic approaches to game theory.
Professional gamers have stringent routines, almost like NFL and NBA players. These “Gen Z-ers” compete for six to seven-figure salaries through tournament prizes that propel them to global stardom in the Esports Arena.
Esports And AI Coaches
Esports analytics platforms like SenpAI provide AI-powered coaching that assesses players’ stats and suggests optimal strategies for online games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). In games like Dota 2 and League of Legends, two opposing teams must each play to defend their base.
An AI coach advises team members on strategies to attack and defend and demonstrates how alternative approaches can improve a team’s odds of winning or losing.
AI agents are trained to learn specific games, such as in the case of Omnicoach. Overwatch players received helpful tips on using weapons effectively, improving mobility, and securing favorable positions against enemy avatars (in-game player characters) who possess exceptional combat-fighting skills.
Elite gamers backed by international brands like Red Bull and Monster Energy are utilizing computer-generated game plans to achieve a tactical advantage over their opponents.
In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, an AI coach can teach players to deploy team formations and other strategies that make them less susceptible to a counterattack. Artificial intelligence brings the analytical firepower that gives Esports players an advantage over opponents.
How AI Is Changing The Gaming Industry
AI is altering the video-gaming industry in other ways too. DeepMind, a London-based start-up (later acquired by Google in 2014), used machine learning to uncover alternative ways of playing old-school games such as Pong and other classic video games.
In her TedTalk, Raia Hadsell, a research director at DeepMind, mentions that AI and deep neural networks can play video games, solve puzzles, navigate obstacle courses, and improve game design.
Artificial Intelligence has come to a point where it is nearly impossible for humans to defeat supercomputers in chess, checkers, and other games. We have entered into an age where affordable machines can calculate the result of millions of in-game moves per second.
There is less of a distinction between what is virtual and physical. Elite gamers engage themselves in mixed realities of human and digital allies and opponents.
Monetizing Esports With AI
The monetization of Esports and gaming is changing as well. Conversational AI “bots” are being developed to help consumers find games that suit their style. Soon, you will be able to speak to an AI Assistant about all the different genres of games on sale or enquire about other products that will save gamers time and money.
According to Vijay Ramakrishnan, a Silicon Valley-based machine learning engineer, “Customers demand a natural, conversational interaction when shopping online that is similar to an in-store experience.” Gamers now expect AI Bots to recommend products instead of finding items themselves.
Furthermore, future uses of AI can also create game designs that vastly improve players’ engagement and interest. For example, an AI algorithm could be trained to find the optimal features of Dota-2 and League of Legends and other popular titles that would help MOBA players improve their gameplay.
Machine learning is used for customizing games based on user preferences. Trained AI Agents will learn to predict what an individual is likely to purchase.
And this skill alone will reduce the financial risk to game developers since there is no value in developing games and experiences that will be rejected by gamers who may feel that a game is uninspiring or unimaginative.
The Use Case For AI In Esports Betting
The billion-dollar Esports industry is aware of the massive gambling potential available. The Esports and betting industries have seen the attraction of video games to young bettors.
With that being said, artificial intelligence will play a more significant role in the gaming industry to provide the best services and help to prevent fraud. Bookies can now benefit from having real-time statistics available for players, teams, and events that will help inform betting odds and provide helpful predictions for bettors.
An advantage of AI is that it can churn volumes of data quickly and more efficiently. PandaScore‘s AI platform can collect 300 data points from League of Legends in milliseconds.
Based on historical and live streaming data, the AI system can continually learn to provide the most up-to-date predictions about which teams will win, lose, and accomplish specific in-game tasks.
Esports is much more data-driven than regular sports, which has created a unique niche and demand for advanced AI. IBM recently launched Power Rankings for Watson, an advanced AI model that evaluates players’ and teams’ performance in the Overwatch League.
The AI algorithm trained on data from previous game sessions correlates those statistics and assigns a weight to each, thereby predicting how each variable will tip the balance toward a win or loss. In addition, AI can identify potential risky betting behaviors and fraudulent activities.
Esports Technologies, a company that provides gambling and wagering experiences for Esports, recently joined the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) as an advocate for anti-corruption. Esports Technologies will use its AI platform to highlight and eliminate irregular betting behaviors and match-fixing.
Additionally, Esports Technologies has filed a provisional patent for an AI algorithm that generates odds models to be used in betting algorithms for esports tournaments.
One use case for this technology will be to predict which team will be ranked in the top three, which team will be ranked outside the top five, or even how far a team will proceed in the tournament.
A combination of machine learning and quantitative methods will generate the odds instantly. The advanced technology will help make proposed bets and be used across various betting markets.
AI has only recently begun to feature in the Esports gaming industry. The applications of AI within Esports have so far only scratched the surface for what is still to come. As AI continually progresses within the space, it leaves a gap for more advancements in Esports, allowing for more money to be made and new technologies to emerge.