AI in Esports : Is the Future Finally Here? 2024

AI in Esports: Artificial intelligence is a hot topic at the moment. The rapidly evolving technology promises to reshape almost every facet of our daily lives, from how we interact with our homes to how new medicines and treatments are developed. For many, the rise of AI is daunting, with some doomsayers predicting that the technology will soon displace millions of people from the workforce. Whether this will happen remains to be seen, but AI does have many exciting applications. One sector that looks to benefit from AI advancements is the esports industry.

How Can the Video Game Industry Utilize AI?

AI has been present in video games for many years. It’s what enables virtual worlds to become immersive landscapes, with each digital realm populated with non-playable characters and random events. Ever played a beat ’em up game or taken on an end-of-level boss? If you’ve opted for a single-player campaign, you’re essentially taking on a type of AI as you battle with computer-controlled opponents. While AI is making it possible to create increasingly authentic and believable worlds, it also has promising applications for the esports industry.

What Can AI Do For Esports?

The esports market was valued at more than $1.7 billion in 2023. Within a decade, the global market size is expected to soar past the $9 billion mark, with artificial intelligence certain to play a key role in this exponential growth.

AI has many practical applications for esports. While there’s little chance of organizers allowing teams to deploy AI-assisted maneuvers or computer-controlled allies during competition, the technology can still be used as a powerful training aid. Analytical tools enabled by AI allow players to deconstruct their performance, picking out weak spots that are leaving them wide open. This can turn a relative rookie into an S-Tier powerhouse within a short period. What’s more, it puts less pressure on esports coaches and more senior players within a roster.

AI can also be used to assist with esports recruitment. There’s a precedent for it within conventional sporting circles, with the NBA has used machine learning algorithms for several years to assist with draft picks. Vast amounts of performance data are assessed to help coaches make better picks when it comes to draft time. The results can help coaches find undiscovered gems or avoid costly signings that will only deliver disappointment. The same principles can be applied to the esports world.

Being able to make smarter signings is vital for esports organizations who want to weather uncertain economic times. In 2023, the combined prize pool for Dota

2 was more than $30 million. Meanwhile, overall winnings for Valorant Champions Tour 2023 stood at a more modest $2.25 million. Going by these numbers, Valorant team management would want to be more discerning with their hiring budget, with machine learning algorithms and AI helping in that respect. Looking to see how everyone’s shaping up at the 2024 Champions Tour? Get the latest Valorant schedule here.

AI-Assisted Content Creation

While team update of AI is still ongoing, the tech is already in use throughout the esports ecosystem. The same technology used as training aids allows audiences to enjoy immersive action replays, dramatically enhancing the esports experience for spectators.

In general, AI makes it easier for tournament organizers to offer dynamic coverage that wouldn’t have been possible only a few years ago. Once again, there’s a precedent for it in traditional sports broadcasting, but video game competitions are even better positioned to make use of the technology. Highlight packages can be created automatically, with AI picking out key points of play. Because the process is largely autonomous, content-rich reels can be ready to view in mere moments, removing the need for post-production teams and time-consuming edits.

AI-Assisted Content Creation

The Future of AI in Esports

While training, player selection, and content creation are all likely to be supported by AI in the future, there are other ways the technology may proliferate esports. Game developers are turning to AI more and more to create computer-controlled characters for players to interact with. As opposed to friendly NPCs and enemy characters, players will be able to be supported during play by AI-controlled allies. These virtual assistants will go beyond the limits of current-day bots, being able to adapt to an individual player’s style of play. How enthusiastically esports organizers respond to such fundamental changes remains to be seen.

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