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Can a computer beat an esports professional at their own game? The answer is yes, apparently, as one Artificial Intelligence program managed to beat out Dota 2 world champions in a surprising turn of events.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s nonprofit OpenAI program has developed an Artificial Intelligence trained to play Dota 2, which went head to head with The International’s 2018 champions, OG on April 13.

The two threw down at the OpenAI Five Finals in San Francisco, California in a bid to see who would come out on top – but things didn’t pan out as many fans, players, and analysts had expected.

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The International 2018 champions OG tested their mettle against an Artificial Intelligence program – which concluded with a surprising turn of events.

Artificial Intelligence handicaps

Five pros from OG clashed with five Artificial Intelligence bots from OpenAI in a best-of-three tournament format; however, due to the bots’ “reinforcement learning” algorithm and Dota 2’s staggering number of potential variables in-game, a character cap was imposed on each team, limiting the number of characters used to 17 per squad.

Additionally, OpenAI imposed the “Captain’s Draft” game mode and disabled illusion and summoning capabilities, further limiting the outrageous number of possibilities the program would have to learn throughout the duration of their match.

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Despite OG’s prowess, OpenAI Five managed to take the first match of the day after employing comparatively aggressive strategies, such as spending in-game currency to revive downed teammates early on in the match.

That’s not all; OpenAI went on to win the set, nearly halving the time it took to win its first game in the second match, bullying OG as they made their way across the map.

Dota 2 player and AI specialist Mike Cook live-tweeted the event with insightful analysis of their battle, noting major differences in the bots’ choices vs what human players consider to be the “right” course of action in certain instances.

Team OG themselves seemed to take their loss in good spirits, dubbing themselves #TeamHuman and promising to come back even stronger next time.

OpenAI’s victory saw a slew of incredulous reactions across Twitter, with the likes of esports analyst Rod Breslau and others wondering where AI is headed next, considering this turn of events.

Of course, AI in video games is nothing new; plenty of titles pit players against a computer, most notably in fighting games, as a means of training. With OpenAI’s win under its belt, there’s no telling what’s next for the field in terms of competitive gaming.

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