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Google’s DeepMind Outshines StarCraft 2 Pros in Live Demonstration

Google has been working on the DeepMind program for some time now and its AI agents took on StarCraft II in 2018. A lot has changed since the earlier attempts and as the artificial intelligence got better, everyone expected a heated race last week. Having said this, the exceptional performance of DeepMind against two of the best-known StarCraft II professional players took everyone by surprise. Blizzard hosted a live stream with DeepMind on Thursday and the AI has crushed its human opposition.


AI Agents Defeat Humans Ten Matches in a Row

Two professional players were chosen to represent humanity against the AI and both Grzegorz “MaNa” Komincz and Dario “TLO” Wünsch are immensely experienced. TLO was the first to showcase his skills against the AI, but the latter was clearly unimpressed and swept the series in five straight games. The blown out victory took many by surprise, including the researchers who anticipated a close series. Google’s DeepMind was in firm control throughout the games and simply cruised to victory.

MaNa was equally surprised by the aggressive tactics deployed by his computer opponent and lost back-to-back games. The Polish player got creative in the final matches of the series and tried to capitalize on his experience to surprise the AI. Those watching the series on stream were occasionally under the impression that the StarCraft II professional was on the verge of outshining his opponent. Even though DeepMind chose to stick to his plan, he executed the strategy so well that he proved to be unstoppable.

Grzegorz was able to snatch one game from the claws of defeat and the best part is that he did all that in real-time. This was the only match broadcasted live on Twitch and the human player successfully employed harassment tactics to cripple his opponent. This match highlighted some of the flaws that the AI still needs to address, in order to be more successful when confronted with unexpected strategies. Given the progress made over the last year, it is likely to expect the AI to also overcome this hurdle.

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What’s Next for DeepMind’s AI Agents?

DeepMind developers took this challenge seriously, because defeating some of the best human players at video games can also advance their research. The margin of victory, as well as the dominant manner in which the AI outplayed the best StarCraft II pros, were the main talking points after the live stream ended. Equally important is the fact that DeepMind chose to stray from some of the core rules used by all human players. It built more probes to harvest minerals, a decision that pro-players now try to understand.

AlphaStar’s play was exceptional and exceeded the expectations of both pro players and commentators. Developers have announced their intention to expand their research and update the AI agents, so they can play as and against Terrans and Zergs. There’s a good chance for the next showdown between AI and humans to also take place in 2019, but January 24, 2019 is likely to be remembered as a turning point.

You can watch the  DeepMind StarCraft II Demonstration on Twitch.