Esports Team Twente shows full potential for data science with own showcase
By corona it did not get the Create Tomorrow-vibe it was hoping for. Yet the Shaping Esports Event was anything but less interesting for it. One of the founders of Esports Team Twente Idwer de Vries took us back to March 16 and 17. Especially to explain that Esports is so much more than just gaming. And that is putting it lightly: there is still a world to discover!
With around thirty students, Esports Team Twente is playing an increasingly significant role on the world stage. Several games they already play at a high level. “It won’t be long until the first big successes,” says Idwer. What this event showed above all is that Esports is about so much more than just gaming or as a sport in itself. “And that was exactly the intention” says Idwer: “With this event we didn’t only want to arouse the interest of students, but also work step by step towards more brand awareness and awareness among companies and organizations.” Idwer refers to the cooperation with the Royal Netherlands Navy that will start soon: “We are investigating the possibility of applying gaming to train skills of military personnel. In a war game like Counter-Strike, you can learn an awful lot of skills in a very short time that you take with you to real situations as experience.”
“We’re now in the 70s of the Olympics”
Idwer emphasizes that it is still too early to draw conclusions: “We are still in the proof-of-concept phase, so right now we are mainly looking at competencies we can train and how we can package that into a workshop or training schedule. We are now in groups of three people doing different tests in Counter-Strike.”
It’s all about the role-playing game
Of course, the main question remains: what are these ‘trainable’ competencies then? And how does that work? Idwer: “Look, a game like Counter-Strike is of course no replacement for the situation in the field, but the role-playing that takes place there is. Where do you go? What do you say when you see an enemy? What do you say not to say? These are important questions in situations that can be very well imitated in a game like Counter-Strike. Assertiveness and independence could be competences that we can incorporate in a workshop or training program.”
Which position produces the best results?
The Esports industry is a breeding ground for many more applications: “Gamers get ’tilted’ – game language for getting angry – after a mistake or setback. We are now testing with psychology students how to prevent that or even use it to get better results. It is not officially a scientific test, but we are already seeing positive results in a test with 25 subjects. Walking around for a while immediately after getting angry proved to work well for these individuals.”
Optimizing performance’ is the core business of Esports Team Twente. And that optimization goes much further than just adjusting your attitude or spotting trends using heatmaps, according to Idwer. As an example he mentions Rocket League, a game in which you play soccer with racing cars against each other: “We have developed a special Rocket League odds generator that, based on 200,000 games, uses machine learning to show which strategy has the best chance of winning. This could show, for example, that you should play the ball a lot in the middle.”
For the game Rocket League, Esports Team Twente developed software to discover the best strategies that lead to winning.
Much to win
According to Idwer, we are only at the beginning of what Esports can mean for data science: “There is still so much to gain, we are now in the 70s of the Olympics. The fact that it is now becoming clear that posture, eating habits and wrist usage do determine the difference between winning and losing means that there are still many other areas in which percentage points can be won.” Since Esports Team Twente was founded in September, 40 people have joined in just six months: “Management, marketing, analysts, dieticians, support staff. Gaming can no longer be called a hobby, it is a professional sport within which there are unprecedented opportunities to be discovered. The Netherlands is still a bit behind in that area, but I do notice that the development in the Netherlands is also starting to accelerate.”
Would you like to help Esports Team Twente with their mission? They are still looking for partners to do research, interns and sponsors to facilitate materials, demos and an Esports lounge.
Become a partner of Esports Team Twente >
Idwer is satisfied with the first ‘showcase’: “Especially for a first edition in corona time we can’t be dissatisfied. We have a plan to organize a showcase event every six months, but with the create tomorrow-vibe we actually had in mind!” The first day went a bit chaotic: “That was actually supposed to be the Create Tomorrow day where students get to work on different challenges and come up with solutions. With only 15 attendees you just don’t get that done. Nevertheless, it was great to see how everyone enjoyed working on the various challenges and tests. It also provided a lot of learning insights that we will use for the next day and certainly future showcase events.”
The big day was next; YouTuber GameMeneer (1.2 million followers!) came to take a look for himself by invitation. He went from test to test to take on the challenges himself: “His first test was with the shooting game AimLabs, where you simply have to try to click a ball in a screen as fast as possible. Our Esports players achieved about 80,000 points and an average gamer about 30,000. The 50,000 points of GameMeneer is quite an achievement! Afterwards he went for another game of Counter-Strike and played FIFA against the Esporters of FC Twente.” Outside of the tests, it was easy to see that a YouTube star was there: “He handled everything very professionally and participated enthusiastically in all the tests. He even gave our film crew tips, which is really great to see what kind of energy he brings to a day like this.”
Curious about GameMeneer’s experience on March 17? Watch his vlog (in Dutch!) here: