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Capturing the extraordinary: Echo brings esports statistics to life

Posted on 30 October 2017

Esports games can be incredibly fast-paced and complex to follow. But now researchers have developed a new production tool ‘Echo’ that can detect the most extraordinary performances in live matches.


Screenshot of Echo in action.

Launched at the international ESL ONE Hamburg gaming event (26 to 29 October), Echo translates large volumes of esports statistics into visually appealing and informative stories, augmenting the viewing experiences for millions of esports fans.

Developed by Digital Creativity Labs at the University of York, in close collaboration with ESL Gaming, the world’s largest esports company, Echo is just the first in a series of new tools designed to make esports games more engaging for their 350 million-strong audience.

Esports – or electronic sports – are hugely popular around the world. Featuring people playing competitive computer games, esports are attended by enormous crowds with many more fans following the action online.

Data-driven stories

Dr Florian Block, of Digital Creativity Labs, leads the development of Echo.

He said: “In the world of professional gameplay, esports games can be incredibly fast-paced and complex to follow.

“Echo provides tournament organisers with the ability to automatically detect extraordinary plays and events in live matches and generate graphics that help an audience appreciate what is happening.

“It’s an instant and engaging way of providing data-driven stories about players to the live audience.”

Meaningful graphics

Digital Creativity Labs (DC Labs) is an interdisciplinary laboratory and think tank focusing on research and innovation in games and interactive media. Echo draws on DC Labs’ research in Information Visualisation, Game Analytics, Machine Learning and Interactive Broadcasting.

Echo developers first assembled a database of professional players and matches. Now at esports events, Echo constantly monitors live data and compares this against the thousands of previous professional performances in the database. Whenever something in the current match is unusual, this is brought to the attention of the Echo operators.

Dr Block explained: “When a record is broken, or when a player performance is extraordinarily bad or good, Echo provides a direct interface with the graphics system. With one click, the operator can translate the selected statistic to the audience, providing an end-to-end mechanism to convert extraordinary events into meaningful graphics that can be presented to the audience.”

Accessible

While real-time monitoring of match data is accessible to some pro level analysts and teams, Echo goes beyond simply monitoring. It provides an interface for the broadcaster to access the data, identifies meaningful moments and seamlessly passes this information onto the audience.

In collaboration with ESL Gaming and the esports community, the researchers  at DC Labs are working on a range of products like Echo, with the goal of giving teams, broadcasters and audiences new tools for making esports engaging and accessible to ever-growing audiences. These include a real-time prediction algorithms that can help audiences anticipate the likely outcomes of the game and set the stage for spectacular surprises.

The work on Echo is partly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Innovate UK.

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