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looking forward to CoG 2020

Results of this year’s CoG tournament will be announced later this month. I am later than usual with my take. The new participants of CoG 2020 will be these 7:

  • Stardust (see yesterday)
  • PurpleWave
  • Microwave
  • Mikhail Golovach (random bot apparently named after its author)
  • BananaBrain
  • McRave
  • ZZZKBot

The only unknown newcomer is random Mikhail Golovach, who is listed as a hobbyist. Most brand new bots from individual programmers turn out to be weak, but there are occasional startling exceptions like Bereaver. At a minimum, going random shows ambition, so we can hope it’s strong and interesting!

I predict #1 Stardust, #2 PurpleWave, #3 BananaBrain as the most likely top winners, based on past records plus my look at Stardust yesterday. But there are surprises every tournament. I think McRave cannot be counted out for the #3 place because it is strong at PvP, and of course Mikhail Golovach is an unknown.

There will also be 3 carryover bots from last year:

  • MetaBot
  • BetaStar
  • XiaoYi

These 3 bots are pretty good, especially BetaStar which is a Locutus fork, but opponents will be prepared. I expect most of the 7 new entrants to perform well against them.

That makes 6 protoss, 2 zerg, 1 terran, 1 random. Protoss outnumbers all others together. Protoss dominance is becoming entrenched. I don’t like that, I should work harder on Steamhammer.

I wrote earlier about the CoG 2020 map pool. Now the specific 5 maps to be played have been selected from the pool.

(2)Blue Storm has 2 exits toward the center of the map from each base. One is direct but narrow, only passing small units; dragoons and lurkers don’t fit, for example. The other is wide but the path is longer. Only bots with size-sensitive pathfinding will maneuver their armies correctly in long games; others risk getting units stuck. Do any bots have size-sensitive pathfinding? I don’t know of any, but I haven’t looked.

(3)Alchemist has a circular layout with 2 entrances to each base, so you can go around the map in either direction to reach the enemy. Since it’s a 3 player map, one direction is short and the other is long. This map has appeared in past CIG tournaments, where the 2 entrances confused many bots and led to bad games. On the other hand, I predict that the map will cause little trouble in PvP games, which will be the majority this tournament.

(3)Great Barrier Reef has mineral lines around the edge of the map that can be mined out to open new paths. Any bot that knows how to take advantage of this map feature may gain an advantage. Bots that can’t take advantage will probably be OK in most games, though; the edge paths are longer, so no matter whether you rely on native pathfinding or roll your own, you should normally find perfectly adequate paths through the center.

(4)Andromeda is familiar from SSCAIT.

(4)Luna the Final is a classic macro map, as standard as they come, sometimes criticized for leading to boring standard games. Bots should be fine on it.

Update: An anonymous commenter points out that McRave is playing zerg, not protoss. Oops, I didn’t pay enough attention! I changed the coloring in the list of entrants to reflect that, but did not update the commentary. To correct the counting, protoss is half of the total pool of participants and equal with zerg among the new entrants.


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Anon on :

McRave is Zerg btw, also, PurpleWave will be using the last year's version because the submitted version has some issues with keeping frames under 55ms.

Jay Scott on :

Oh, you’re right, it says McRave is playing its zerg, not its regular protoss! I didn’t notice!

Jay Scott on :

Hmm, last year’s PurpleWave was already strong. It might still earn #2.

McRave on :

Who knows, I might switch to Terran next year, keep everyone on their toes I guess.

MicroDK on :

I added size-sensitive pathfinding for Lurkers, but it had some bugs because of time constraints when I submitted. I fixed those bugs after the submission and will upload soon to ladders.

McRaveZ also added size-sensitive pathfinding. He actually helped me with updating BWEB and implementation. :D

Jay Scott on :

Cool! I have the idea that it must be a complicated bit of infrastructure.

Jay Scott on :

By the way, when Steamhammer plays on Blue Storm and it gets to late game, zerg generally ends up with a mass of ultralisks stuck behind one of the narrow entrances. It looks incredibly ugly. But unless zerg is contained it generally wins anyway, as usual once it reaches the late game, so I’m not sure how much gain there may be in pathing around. Size-sensitive pathing is unquestionably a win, but I can’t judge how big a win.

McRave on :

I was finding it near impossible to beat builds like 5GateGoon in mid/late game without Lurkers being able to slow down the push and allow for pushing out to secure/protect my 3rd/4th. It was a feature on my list as a must-have before tournament submission. I think it's definitely a hot item for map specifics, but on BASIL/SSCAIT there is no need.

Bruce on :

Locutus has size-sensitive pathing, but in my local testing it seems BetaStar gets dragoons stuck behind the narrow chokes anyway, so perhaps they made some changes to that logic.

For Stardust I haven't made the pathing size-aware, so it will avoid the narrow chokes for all units. Looks silly to send probes and zealots the long way round, but not as silly as dragoons stuck in the natural! Dragoons in combat may still try to go through the narrow chokes since movement is sometimes done with normal move commands.

I'm happy that they removed a lot of the old bots - there was no real point in having buggy bots with 5% win rates competing every year - though it's sad that bots like Iron were lost. They also accidentally announced the map pool a few weeks before the submission deadline, which I think was a nice quality-of-life bonus for the developers, since preparing for 19 maps that mostly aren't going to be played isn't fun.

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