AI is Becoming the Secret Weapon of Fantasy eSports



15 June 2020


With the eSports market reaching $1 billion, and projected to reach $1.8 billion in 2022, machine-learning AI is quickly becoming a tool for fantasy eSports players to use.  Over the last decade, computational scientists have taken significant strides over developing AI’s understanding of human language, big data, and technique. AI in gaming is changing rapidly, including performance to help players in making tough decisions.

In order to understand how AI is affecting fantasy eSports, let’s take a look at fantasy eSports in itself. Fantasy eSports is much like fantasy football, you draft a team of professional players in one specific video game, then watch as your drafted team of misfits competes against other teams of drafted players, also piloted by another human. Sometimes these leagues have cash prizes, sometimes they don’t. This is where machine-learning AI comes in handy to a lot of players. The simple explanation of what a machine-learning AI will do is that the AI will look at past performances for each player in a game. It’ll look at past scores, performances on certain champions, and overall records against other players/teams. The AI will then create an algorithm which will predict the outcome of a match.

This won’t be the first industry that is revolutionized by AI. In 2018, IBM and ESPN teamed up in order to bring a new service to fantasy football fans: Watson. Watson was built in order to read, understand, and comprehend millions of documents and videos about football. After reading 5,568,714 different articles and creating an understanding of football, Watson was sent to fantasy football players to use. Over three weeks, Watson was correct 79% of the time when suggesting changes to a players roster. Watson would make 5.5 billion insights for players overall across the 9.8 million users that used ESPN’s fantasy app. Watson clearly left an impression with users also, receiving an 80% approval rating from players who used Watson. 

Watson Playing Against Humans in a Game of Jeopardy. Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The benefit that an AI has over anything else is that AI has the time to comb over millions of outcomes in a match. It’s also continuously learning patterns of certain players. In eSports, meta’s are changing seemingly daily. The AI adapts to these meta swings, using past knowledge to analyze what a player’s performance will be like due to the meta swing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in 2017 that “Artificial intelligence is the future. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” And perhaps the ruler of your fantasy league too.

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