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The StarCraft 2 AI that kicked ass in January is joining the European competitive ladder

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(Image credit: Blizzard)

AlphaStar is an AI designed by Google's DeepMind that's bulit specifically to play StarCraft 2, and it's very good at the job. Earlier this year it delivered an all-around ass-kicking to a couple of StarCraft 2 pros, and now it's ready to kick your ass, too.

As part of the ongoing research into artificial intelligence, AlphaStar will soon begin playing a "small number" of games on the StarCraft 2 competitive ladder in Europe. The AI will play anonymously, so human players won't know when they're facing it, and wins and losses against AlphaStar will impact MMR the same way as they do against humans.

"Having AlphaStar play anonymously helps ensure that it is a controlled test, so that the experimental versions of the agent experience gameplay as close to a normal 1v1 ladder match as possible," Blizzard explained. "It also helps ensure all games are played under the same conditions from match to match. DeepMind will release the research results in a peer-reviewed scientific paper along with replays of AlphaStar's matches."

Multiple experimental variants of AlphaStar will take part in the test and it will play 1v1 matches only, as, and against, all three factions in the game. It will perceive the map using a "camera-like view" and won't have access to anything happening outside the visible map area. It will also have tighter restrictions imposed on its actions per minute and per second than it did in its January matches.

The AlphaStar AI test will be opt-in, so you'll have to click the appropriate button on the in-game popup when it appears if you want an ass-kicking. The specific start date for AlphaStar's competitive career and the number of games it will play is not being revealed, in order to help preserve its anonymity. Good luck! I suspect you'll need it.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.