As AI bots continue to impress in classic board games like Chess and Go, an Elon Musk-backed OpenAI bot has managed to comprehensively beat one of the world's finest Dota 2 players, Danylo "Dendi" Ishutin, in a live one-on-one showdown at The International, Valve's yearly Dota 2 eSports tournament.
After making a surprise appearance at the event, OpenAI's bot crushed Dendi, who is estimated to have won $735,449.40 in his career, by winning the first two rounds in a best-of-three match.
The first round ended in less than 10 minutes, while the other two ended with Dendi resigning from one and declining to play the next.
"This guy is scary," Dendi quipped after seeing the bot's manoeuvres and later noted that it "feels a little like [a] human, but a little like something else."
It's a big win for the Musk-backed startup, which ultimately aims to build AI systems to accomplish well-defined goals in messy, complicated situations.
But, what's even more interesting is how they trained this bot. Instead of teaching the bot different strategic aspects of the game, the team copied the AI and left it to play a "thousand lifetimes of matches" against itself over a two-week period to understand enough nuances to defeat a pro gamer.
"We've coached it to learn just from playing against itself," said OpenAI researcher Jakub Pachoki while explaining the self-play method.
"So we didn't hard-code in any strategy, we didn't have it learn from human experts. Just from the very beginning, it just keeps playing against a copy of itself. It starts from complete randomness and then it makes very small improvements, and eventually it's just pro level."
The team had claimed before the match that its AI system was better at playing the game than professional players.
After the game, Elon Musk took to Twitter to hail the achievement.
As OpenAI's machine learning bot remains undefeated in the popular smash hit game, it must be noted that the one-on-one version of Dota 2 is much easier than an actual professional battle in which two teams compete with five players on each side.
The game – with 113 playable heroes with unique abilities and dozens of items that enhance each hero's capabilities – is virtually impossible to comprehend in its entirety, at least for a human player.
That said, OpenAI is already working on the complexities and is creating a bot which will play alongside humans in a 5 vs 5 game. The new bot is slated to be unveiled sometime next year.