"Overwatch League" published its 2021 Power Rankings formulated by the first data-driven ranking system made specifically for the networked-based action game.

The use of the ranking AI allows "Overwatch" to evaluate players solely on performance, eliminating the bias formed by fan support or team popularity.

'Overwatch' and IBM Partnership

In 2020, Blizzard Entertainment signed a multi-year collaboration with IBM, naming the tech company its official Cloud, Machine Learning, AI, and Analytics partner.

The partnership includes having IBM bring an AI-based solution and insight such as generating the Power Rankings to the league.

According to IBM's developer blog post on Apr. 14, the same technology is being used in industries such as healthcare and banking.

The technology, named IBM Watson, is capable of processing vast amounts of data and aid in numerous fields to formulate hypothesis, win games, or in this case, generate game rankings.

Read Also: IBM's Watson And The Boston Children's Hospital Are Teaming Up To Cure Rare Diseases

IBM Watson - How Does It Work?

The IBM Watson for "Overwatch" was developed by a team composed of data scientists from the tech company, and "Overwatch League" experts to create a ranking AI that evaluates players objectively.

According to an Apr. 13 blog post from Overwatch, the ranking AI uses an algorithm that looks into every player and team's performance in all "Overwatch League"  matches.

Playing 'Overwatch'
(Photo : IBM Official Blog)

The Watson then applied the statistics on data gathered from previous seasons to generate categories and assign weight to determine how each category would earn the player a score on the league.

The new and improved Power Rankings released on Apr. 13, was formulated through the combination of the correlations, data capture, and weighing more than 360 performance statistics taken from every "Overwatch League" match.

Assembling the IBM Watson team

IBM and Blizzard Entertainment appoint a team composed of six members to start with the development of the AI for the intense 6v6 action game.

Based in Germany, the team was assembled as an Area 631 project- an incubator program where a team of six has to work for three months to create one breakthrough.

"The Area 631 mission is to be light on the process, heavy on support. Working in a focused, collaborative space helps enable teams to efficiently build something new, innovative, and disruptive," said IBM Vice President and Development for Data and AI and Canada Lab Director Steven Astorino.

"Teams have access to all of the tools they need, as well as a team of executive mentors and sponsors who provide insight and advice throughout the residency."

IBM Watson-backed Power Ranking Results

As of Apr. 13, "Overwatch League" names the San Franciso Shock as the top team on the league after garnering a score of 137, followed by the Philadelphia Fusion with 133, and the Shanghai Dragons with 132.

South Korean player Minki Park, known by his in-game name Viol2t, dominates the board as he ranks first in the overall rankings with a score of 145, as well as ranking first as the top support player.

Following closely behind is Myeong Hwan Yoo known by the name Smurf, with a score of 144 and earning him the second spot at the overall ranking and ranked as the top tank in the league.

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Written by Lee Mercado

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