Competitive video gaming, aka eSports, has taken the world by storm in the past few years. Video games have become not only something to play, but also to watch. In early 2014, Twitch.tv, streaming platform for video games, ranked 4th in peak internet traffic, ahead of Facebook and Hulu1.
As video game tournaments grew in popularity, they left basements and entered stadiums. Just over a month ago, Kotaku reported that last year s League of Legend s finals were followed by more people than the NBA Finals or World Series2.
The Game and the tournament
Dota 2, the spiritual sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA), is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, in which two five-player teams fight each other with the objective of destroying each other’s base. Players can choose heroes from a pool of over 100 playable characters, each with its own abilities and playing style. Dota 2 s tactical complexity and fast-paced action have earned it a fan base of over 12 million active players3. The first Dota 2 “The International” tournament was held in Cologne, Germany, during Gamescom 2011 and had a record-breaking grand prize of US£1M for the winning team. The tournament has since relocated and became an annual event in which the world’s best Dota 2 players complete in front of a live audience at Seattle’s Key Arena for nearly £20M in prizes. The 2016 installation of the International started with a four-team wild-card round on August 2, after which the top two teams advanced to a three-day, sixteen-team group stage (August 3-5). Teams were split into two groups and played against every other team in their group. Results were used to seed the teams for the double-elimination main event (August 8-13).
Who is going to Win?
The first day of the group stage will feature six match series: two from the upper bracket and four from the lower bracket. In the upper bracket, we predict that OG will beat MVP Phoenix and Wings will better Digital Chaos in best-of-three series.
Teams in the lower bracket will play single matches today, increasing the chance for surprises. And indeed, we predict a couple of upsets: Na`Vi will eliminate Team Liquid and Escape Gaming will eliminate Fnatic. Figure 1 shows all predictions for August 8.
Figure 1: Predictions for the six matches on August 8.
What’s the outlook for the rest of the tournament? Bing predicts EHOME to win and take home the £8.7M grand prize. On their way to victory, EHOME will beat Alliance in the Upper Bracket Quarter Finals, win over defending champions Evil Geniuses in the Semis, and defeat Wings Gaming in the Upper Bracket Finals and again in the Grand Finals (Figure 2).
Figure 2: The Bing Predicts bracket for The International 2016.
The Prediction Model
What sets Dota 2 apart from your typical sport (or eSports) is that team rosters constantly change. Players shuffle every three months, and because of this, it is hard for any team to stay at the top of their game for a year or longer. Even a few months can make all the difference.
To account for the frequent lineup changes, we built a predictive model that tracks team performance as well as the career performance of individual players, based on in-game features (gold per minute, experience per minute, etc.) and external features (win rate, etc.). Players who are strong individually may not collaborate well, and while it is difficult to predict it before the players are paired together for the first time, our model computes changes in key statistics for each player and each team after a roster shuffle to quickly update predictions.
What s next
We will be predicting all matches of Dota 2 s The International 2016. We generated a static bracket ahead of the main event but will update our predictions daily as the tournament progresses. Visit Bing1 regularly from now till the Finals on August 13 to see the latest. Also, follow us on Twitter2 to be the first to know what eSports will be predicted next!
-The Bing Predicts team