Expectations were great and tensions were high when the OpenAI Five Finals began in San Francisco. Team OG, who had lifted the world’s most covered esports prize by taking the no. 1 spot at The International, were confident thanks to their practice and skill.
Their opponent: OpenAI Five.
Artificial Intelligence has found its niche in several domains from science, medicine to live casino gaming. Take an example of the first basic poker AI software called Poker Bots which was created to compete in the World Series of Poker tournament. It had the capability to play against 6 human players. How cool is that! Similarly, OpenAI had been testing its Dota 2 AI for months. It had ‘practised’ with numerous real players behind doors and had even beaten the legendary Dota player Danil “Dendi” Ishutun at the Key Arena earlier. Fans and attendees were excited to see the AI in action, but what followed next was simply jaw-dropping.
Dota 2 is a highly complex strategy game. It involves more than 100 unique characters, deep skill trees and item lists, and a dizzying number of interactions at any given moment in the match.
The game began with each side banning some heroes and picking from 17 available ones in order. OpenAI had also disabled summoning and illusion features because the system wasn’t trained for it, yet.
In the first match, OpenAI completely surprised OG and came out victorious by using several aggressive tactics. One move that nobody had anticipated was the decision to instantly revive heroes upon death early on in the match. It is considered a wrong move, but the AI’s decision paid off and gave it an edge OG simply could not overcome during the 30-minute plus match.
In the second match, OpenAI Five steamrolled OG with even more aggressive gameplay. It gained an early advantage in the first few minutes and then played off of it to win in barely over half the time it took to beat OG in the first game. Experts said the AI had started strong by picking four of the top five heroes ranked by net worth. But OG had also had some shortcomings as they were doing little to disrupt the AI across the map.
How did it achieve this?
As OpenAI put it, they didn’t teach the bot how to play; they taught it how to win. After that, the bot was meticulously trained over thousands of games of data; during the event, OpenAI revealed that the bot had had 45,000 human hours worth of training in the game.
Their training philosophy is straightforward too — virtual practice with as many variants as possible and only encourage the models that win. This means that even losses for the bot are wins and lead it to make moves that baffle players and viewers alike.
OpenAI confirmed it was ‘retiring’ its OpenAI Five team from any competitive matches after the event. But their main focus will remain on using the technology to find innovative applications in other areas of need.
Thanks to ‘Collaboration’, an OpenAI initiative, players can now play with and against bots to learn and explore their favourite game further. Regarding the future of Dota, there is no doubt that OpenAI completely changed the way the game will be played from now on.