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What to expect at the AI Sports Challenge 2021

April 11, 2021 . Joy Zhang
What to expect at the AI Sports Challenge 2021

The AI Sports Challenge 2021 is an online AI programming competition sponsored by Deputy, Lab17, MongoDB and GitLab. Thank you also to our community partners Hackathons Australia, General Assembly, SitePoint and the Data Science and AI Association of Australia (DSAI) for your support!

Whether this is your first time participating or you’re a return competitor, here’s a summary to get you up to speed on what to expect at the AI Sports Challenge.

A quick recap

The AI Sports Challenge is the place to be if you’ve ever…

  • Been interested in AI (ML and also higher-level AI concepts);
  • Enjoyed hackathons and competitive programming competitions; or
  • Wanted to live out your AlphaGo dreams.

Between 22 Apr — 7 May (AEST), teams will program a bot capable of competing in a multiplayer game. The bots will face off in a multi-stage tournament for a chance to make it to our live-streamed finale and win prizes and global recognition for their team. Check out last year’s finale here.

We welcome everyone from professionals in academia and industry through to students. Fair warning: we’ll get you started with a basic bot to enter, but you’ve got some tough competition if you want to make it to the finals!

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our write-up of the first-ever AI Sports Challenge.

💣 Dungeons and Data Structures: Season 2

Dungeons and Data Structures (abbr: D&DS) is a Bomberman-inspired 2P game. It featured in our first AI Sports Challenge and has received a revamp for the upcoming challenge.

dnds gif

The final game rules are still a secret that will be revealed at the start of the challenge on April 22, but here’s what to expect:

  1. A more dynamic meta. Last time, the majority of teams converged to the same strategy of ‘farm early and wait out the late-game’. This time around, expect a game flow that will start off action-packed and only get more bloody into the late-game.2. An increase in the level of challenge. Season 1 of D&DS was a pretty easy game for a human player to master. In Season 2, expect new game mechanics that will take advantage of what computers are capable of.
  2. General bug fixes and game improvements. No more running unscathed through fumes or miraculously escaping from a well-placed bomb trap.

🔨 A new game architecture

Since last year’s tournament, the game architecture has been entirely rebuilt. Agents will now communicate with the game server via websocket protocols and need to be submitted for tournament matches as a containerised Docker image.

The major benefits include:

  • Being language agnostic
  • Containerisation of agents as separate processes (*Linux containers only)
  • Local testing of agent in an environment that will be similar to production (i.e. official tournament matches)

Expect a new development and submission workflow, as well as new experimental tools to make training and running search algorithms more accessible. As for programming languages, we’ll provide starter templates for Python and TypeScript. For those wishing to use other programming languages, we’ll provide documentation on how this will work but as a heads up, you’ll need to be quite proficient at your language of choice.

🏆 Updated tournament format

We experimented last year with a single round-robin into single-elimination finale tournament format. This time, we’re trying something new and splitting the tournament into two phases:

Phase 1 — Qualifiers (22 Apr — 2 May)
During this phase, all teams will be able to submit an agent to the tournament. This will be held as a double round-robin, best of 1 against every other team in their group (seeded randomly). The top 16 teams from qualifiers proceed to play-offs.

Phase 2 — Play-offs (2 May — 7 May)
The top 16 teams from Qualifiers are seeded into a double elimination bracket. Teams will be seeded according to their performance in Qualifiers (such that it will be in your best interest to rank highly during Qualifiers for more favourable match-ups). Teams are given an additional few days to make any final changes to their agents. This phase culminates in the finale play-off tournament, with the final matches played out live on Twitch and the winning team being crowned the AI Sports Champion 2021.

Two other things to note:

1 — Scrim Sessions: there will be two scrims held during Qualifiers phase, during which teams have the opportunity to submit their work-in-progress for some practise matches against other teams in the tournament.

2 — Load in: the first 3 days of Qualifiers phase is considered a ‘load in’ phase. During this phase, we’ll be on the lookout for reported bugs and feature requests from the community. New game patches may be released during this period. This phase will be a good time to formulate strategies and create building blocks for your agent.

Outside of the competition, we’ll also have some pre-finale activities to look forward to. More on this coming soon!

🎁 New prizes and giveaways

Here’s a full rundown of the prize and giveaway list for the upcoming challenge:

Top 8 teams: will share a total cash prize pool of $5,000 AUD. This is distributed as follows:

prize distribution

Cash prize pool distribution

Best team name: $150 workshop vouchers (sponsored by General Assembly)

Community MVPs: 1-year premium membership to SitePoint

Finale stream giveaway: 2x Google Nest Minis (sponsored by Google)

Stickers & swag: Refer friends to the AI Sports Challenge

✨ New sponsors

This year’s challenge features a line up of new and returning sponsors and partners. We’d like to thank all of them for their generous support of the AI Sports Challenge!

💎 Diamond Sponsor: Deputy

🥇 Gold Sponsors: Lab17, MongoDB and GitLab

🤝 Community Partners: SitePoint, DSAi, General Assembly, and Hackathons Australia.

❓ So… what now?

That being said, last time our participants surprised us with their creativity and ability to push the limits of our tech. So as for what to expect for this next AI Sports Challenge… expect the unexpected. 🤷‍♀️

If you’re interested in joining the upcoming AI Sports Challenge, you can register by heading over to our event page here.