Bayesian Thinking & Esports Predictions

Do Esports Players Have a Natural Bayesian Thought Process?

The Bayesian Mind

Bayesian thinking could be summed up as making predictive analysis based on not only what the data has to say, but also what your expertise, experience, and previously held beliefs tell you as well. Whereas the frequentist definition sees probability as the long-run expected frequency of occurrence (P(A) = n/N), where n is the number of times event A occurs in N opportunities, the Bayesian view of probability is related to the degree of belief. It is a measure of the plausibility of an event given incomplete knowledge.*

The Bayesian Theorem

Twitch Channel Points and Live Community Chat Wagers

Twitch.tv, the Amazon-owned, billion-dollar API that came up from the humble grassroots beginnings of Justin.tv and now hosts everything from live video game streams, ASMR, foodie topics, and live DJ sets (what?) recently implemented the channel points system to spice up live streams and increase streamer-chat interaction in lots of fun and imaginative ways. The short breakdown is:

  • Channel Points can be wagered on simple polls and mini bets on the outcome of anything game or stream related
  • Viewers can cash out accumulated channel points for goodies provided by the streamer (channel) without actually spending any money.
Yes, you can bet channel points on almost anything!
“Will it Kill?” is a popular Twitch/Youtube series from host Sajam

Will it Kill?!

Suppose we take a random clip from the video and try to substantiate whether the combo will kill based on the limited information given, context clues, and some inferred data. In that vein, let’s try and make a prediction based on the clip at 21:16 of the above embed.

Bayes formula using our values and given information
Solving for our Posterior, or P(A|B). In this case, P(kill|high-counter)

Was it Worth it?

Well, given that we had the time to complete a full Bayes problem before the 1 minute cutoff time of the Channel Points betting phase (which we don’t) it would be pretty unrealistic to do this every time by hand, or calculator, or even in our heads. However, competitive, pro gamers and viewers make these types of calculations all the time right in the heat of battle and under immense pressure. We take in various context clues and build off of past experience and research to make informed, calculated decisions in a split second! Very much like how you might learn to instinctively drive a car and make split-second adjustments (without ever really thinking about it).

The Moment of Truth

Now that we have our prediction value of 63%, let’s go see if our combo is actually going to end Nanaya or not!

One more time, for extra impact

Conclusion

While useful in theory across many different real-world applications (from sports betting, to gambling, etc.), Bayes Theorem is also incredibly fun to play around with and throw against the wall to see if some theory or belief actually sticks. If interested in other analytical papers on how gamers think and make split second decisions, feel free to view my website: mynus.gg where I cover Esports topics and journalism, and other great reads listed below!

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Chaz Frazer

Data Scientist/Esports Analyst/Linguist/Japanese Interpreter: I do a lot in the intersection of gaming and data, helping esports grow.