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Overwatch will use AI to identify the best players in the world

Overwatch
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard Entertainment has joined forces with IBM to develop a new data-driven system for ranking the best Overwatch players in the world.

The new technique will be used to analyze the performance of competitors in esports championship Overwatch League and create an objective ranking of the most skilled players.

According to an IBM blog post, the Overwatch Power Rankings will be based on upwards of 360 performance metrics (damage per second, healing, weapon accuracy etc.), with roughly 1.8 million data points collected in any given match.

All this data will be aggregated, organized and then analyzed to determine the correlation between particular in-game actions and the eventual match outcome.

IBM has also applied machine learning techniques to an existing dataset to determine which statistics best reflect the quality of players. Although all available metrics will contribute to the final rankings, a pool of roughly 30 will have a larger impact on positioning.

Overwatch Power Rankings

For the uninitiated, Overwatch is a first-person shooter that pits two teams against one other across a handful of game modes, such as capture the point and protect the payload. The teams are made up of six different characters (or heroes), each of which has a unique loadout, moveset and play style.

Until now, the fast-paced and chaotic nature of the game, as well as the various disparities between heroes, has made ranking players by performance a challenging task.

According to Jon Spector, VP of Overwatch Esports at Blizzard, while esports pundits are able to draw on a wealth of knowledge to provide context for viewers, the new system contributes additional color to analysis that would otherwise be impossible.

“We’ve got really talented analysts that follow our players and teams, but there is so much happening in these matches, no human being could possibly observe and evaluate it all,” he said.

“We needed a way to capture and analyze every move from every player and feed all that insight into a ranking system that was totally objective and reliable.”

Beyond giving fans something to pick apart, the Power Rankings is also expected to act as a useful resource for players and coaches, who will be able to use the insights to hone their gameplay and tactics.

The first edition of the Overwatch Power Rankings was published on April 16, the first day of the new season, and will be updated weekly after each new round of fixtures.