The eSports world recently witnessed an intriguing yet controversial moment with the introduction of an AI commentator bot during the T1 vs. LNG match at the League of Legends Worlds 2023.
This technological advancement, however, has been met with mixed reactions, particularly from the eSports community and professional casters. The esports and gaming communities have always been vocal and opinionated, especially regarding technological advancements like crypto, NFTs, and AI.
In this latest development, fans expressed their disappointment over the AI caster’s lack of emotion and energy, highlighting a crucial aspect that sets human commentators apart: the ability to convey passion and excitement.
Isaac ‘Azael’ Cummings-Bentley, a renowned League of Legends caster, articulated this sentiment on social media, lamenting the focus of AI development on replacing human-centric joys. Mitch ‘Ubershouts’ Leslie, another seasoned eSports voice, humorously remarked about the concerning state of the industry in light of such advancements.
Ayo casters y’all thought a 60% salary correction was the least of your concerns? 😂 https://t.co/3kjzFilrF9
— Mitch Leslie (@UberShouts) November 8, 2023
AI in eSports commentary: Imitation or innovation?
Sean ‘Spaceman’ Rogers, a caster for titles like Call of Duty and Rocket League, labeled AI as imitation and theft at worst. His blunt advice to “throw it in the trash” reflects a broader concern about AI in esports commentary as a step or a mere imitation lacking the human touch.
Per the reports, despite these criticisms, commentators have no immediate fear of losing their jobs to AI. Currently, the bot can’t fully replicate human commentary’s nuanced and dynamic nature.
The growing presence of AI in sports broadcasting
The use of AI in sports commentary isn’t limited to eSports. Major sporting events like the Masters golf tournament and Wimbledon tennis championships have experimented with AI for narrating highlights.
We got a sneak peek at the Masters app’s new AI commentary, which’ll be live this week.
@IBMWatson has trained a language model to learn golf and deliver insights in real time like an announcer would. Here’s an example of what it’ll sound like. pic.twitter.com/Epij5Rcvse
— Stephen Hennessey (@S_HennesseyGD) April 5, 2023
Eurovision Sport used an AI voice for recaps at the European Athletics Team Championships, and the U.S. Open plans to follow suit.
IBM’s collaboration with these events showcases the potential for AI to provide insights and commentary. The tech giant’s Watson AI platform, employed at Wimbledon, was trained in the specific language of tennis, providing a unique, albeit AI-driven, perspective on the sport.
Foray into AI-predictive analytics
In a related development, Riot Games recently partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to create a machine-learning model named “Win Probability.” This AI evaluates factors like Tower Kills and Total Team EXP to predict outcomes in League of Legends matches, illustrating the expanding role of AI in esports beyond commentary.
The prospects of AI in eSports and broadcasting
The mixed reactions to the AI caster at League of Legends Worlds 2023 underscore a significant debate in the sports and esports industries. While AI, according to many, offers efficiency and new insights, the lack of emotional depth and human connection in AI-generated content remains a critical issue.
As AI continues to evolve, its integration into fields traditionally dominated by human skills could stir more debates about the balance between technological change and preserving the uniquely human elements that define certain professions and experiences.
The eSports community’s response to the AI commentator bot serves as a reminder of the challenges and opportunities AI presents in sports and gaming. While AI may bring new dimensions to the field, it seems clear that, for now, the human touch remains irreplaceable in delivering the excitement and passion that fans cherish.