Overwatch

Using IBM Watson to create OWL Play of the Game(s)

This season OWL got a new sponsor in the form of IBM Watson, which was really exciting for me personally. A futuristic video game esports using futuristic technology? It was a match made in heaven.

However, limiting IBM Watson's role to Power Rankings feels like a huge waste of potential. As with any other sport/e-sport, there is A LOT of data to break down in Overwatch. The Area 631 team behind the Power Rankings identified over 360 different statistics to measure. The same applies to traditional sports, most notably the NBA, which just recently announced a partnership with Microsoft's Azure AI and the NHL and the NFL, both of which announced partnerships with Amazon Web Services for machine learning statistics. But what does this have to do with the OWL?

Something a new viewer to the OWL will probably realize in their first game is that OWL games don't have a Play of the Game like in their casual/comp matches. Sometimes we get a glimpse of the Play of the Game because of production mishaps or the camera pans on a player's screen after the match but it's not really official. Instead, we get little clips from the game, which is fine, but it's just not the same. Who doesn't miss the triumphant PotG music rolling over one of the best plays in a game played by the best players in the world?

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This is where IBM Watson steps in. I know I'm going to sound like a shill, but I did some research into what IBM Watson offers and they do in fact offer extensive machine learning services, one of which was used to create the Power Rankings. The current Play of the Game algorithm is algorithm-based, and as some of you may have noticed, has had some issues in the past. That got me thinking: what if the OWL did a mini-documentary style series in collaboration with IBM to create a new PotG system, at least for the OWL? You have over 100 pros, coaches, and analysts who can give feedback on what they believe is the most important play of the game and basically already do it anyways with VOD reviews. You have people like CaptainPlanet who already manage the statistics for the OWL. You have a lot of excellent voiceovers in the casters (imagine Uber's voice in the background) and data scientists from IBM who are already familiar with working with Overwatch data. For ~17 seconds at the end of every game, it's a huge Quality of Life improvement that also happens to educate viewers and promote a sponsor. It's a win for everybody.

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