While elsewhere in the world esports teams were facing each other, 2018 International champions OG were facing an altogether different kind of opponent. Artificial intelligence research organization OpenAI had invited the team for a showmatch against their Dota 2 bot team, the OpenAI Five. Ostensibly the purpose of this event was to “illustrate how humans and AI will interact in the future,” but one hopes this won’t be the case, as the AI smacked their human opponents around pretty badly.
There were some limitations set for yesterday’s match. It was played on the latest patch in Captain’s Draft game mode, with a total of 17 of Dota 2‘s 100+ heroes available. Summons and illusions were disabled as the system does not know how to work with these extra variables yet. Rapiers, bottles, and scanning were also disallowed.
In the first, 30-minute match, OpenAI Five managed to surprise OG by playing fairly aggressively around their lanes and using early-game buybacks for their downed heroes to keep up the pressure. OpenAI Five handily won. Even though the system is said to not learn in-between games yet, it took even less time to dispose of its human opponents in the second match, claiming victory after a mere 20 minutes.
The Five did make a few misplays, but they also demonstrated that they had learned new tricks like jungling. OG from their end did play a little differently than we’re used to. They were possibly trying to exploit weaknesses the system had demonstrated before, or likely just having fun with it, as they should while we humans still can do so freely.
Founded by tech luminaries Elon Musk and Sam Altman (although the former has left the nonprofit since), OpenAI first arrived on the Dota 2 scene in 2017. At that year’s International tournament, its first bot was demonstrated in a one-versus-one showmatch playing famed mid-player Dendi. It did not go well for the latter. However, when OpenAI later challenged attendees off-stream to defeat its program for a free in-game item, it became clear that the system was not without its flaws.
Roll around to the next edition of the International, the one OG won. This time around OpenAI had a much larger presence at the event, having cut its teeth on a team of casters a few weeks earlier. Fielding a team of five bots, it played both Brazil-based squad paiN Gaming as well as Chinese all-star team Big God on the main stage. The humans were victorious that time, but last night the Five got their revenge.
Overall last night was an impressive showing, demonstrating how far the system has come since the last time we saw it. According to OpenAI co-founder and chairman Greg Brockman, who was at hand, its five-bot AI team has played the equivalent of 45,000 years of Dota in its 10 months of existence. “It hasn’t grown bored yet,” he added. This is good news for them, as OpenAI has announced that everyone will be able to play against their bots in a mode called Arena. This will be available between April 18 and 21, and you can sign up to test your skills on OpenAI’s website.
Twitch, meanwhile, has the full stream of last night’s OpenAI Five Finals.
Writer, developer and esports observer from the land of cheese and windmills.