Manchester City F.C. and Google Research are proud to present AI football competition using the Google Research Football Environment.
A word from Manchester City F.C.
Brian Prestidge, Director of Data Insights & Decision Technology at City Football Group, the owners of Manchester City F.C., sets out the challenge. “Football is a tough environment to perform in and an even tougher environment to learn in. Learning is all about harnessing failure, but failure in football is seldom accepted. Working with Google Research’s physics based football environment provides us with a new place to learn through simulation and offers us the capabilities to test tactical concepts and refine principles so that they are strong enough for a coach to stake their career on.”
“We are therefore very pleased to be working with Google’s research team in creating this competition and are looking forward to the opportunity to support some of the most creative and successful competitors through funding and exclusive prizes. We hope to establish ongoing collaboration with the winners beyond this competition, and that it will provide us all with the platform to explore and establish fundamental principles of football tactics, thus improving our ability to perform and be successful on the pitch.”
Greg Swimer, Chief Technology Officer at City Football Group added “Technologies such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence have huge future potential to enhance the understanding and enjoyment of football for players, coaches and fans. We are delighted to be collaborating with Google’s research team to help broaden the knowledge, talent, and innovation working in this exciting and transformational area”.
The Google Research football environment competition
The world gets a kick out of football (soccer in the United States). As the most popular sport on the planet, millions of fans enjoy watching Sergio Agüero, Raheem Sterling, and Kevin de Bruyne on the field. Football video games are less lively, but still immensely popular, and we wonder if AI agents would be able to play those properly.
Researchers want to explore AI agents’ ability to play in complex settings like football. The sport requires a balance of short-term control, learned concepts such as passing, and high-level strategy, which can be difficult to teach agents. A current environment exists to train and test agents, but other solutions may offer better results.
The teams at Google Research aspire to make discoveries that impact everyone. Essential to their approach is sharing research and tools to fuel progress in the field. Together with Manchester City F.C., Google Research has put forth this competition to get help in reaching their goal.
In this competition, you’ll create AI agents that can play football. Teams compete in “steps,” where agents react to a game state. Each agent in an 11 vs 11 game controls a single active player and takes actions to improve their team’s situation. As with a typical football game, you want your team to score more than the other side. You can optionally see your efforts rendered in a physics-based 3D football simulation.
If controlling 11 football players with code sounds difficult, don’t be discouraged! You only need to control one player at a time (the one with the ball on offense, or the one closest to the ball on defense) and your code gets to pick from 1 of 19 possible actions. We have prepared a getting started example to show you how simple a basic strategy can be. Before implementing your own strategy, however, you might want to learn more about the Google Research football environment, especially observations provided to you by the environment and available actions. You can also play the game yourself on your computer locally to get better understanding of the environment’s dynamics and explore different scenarios.
If successful, you’ll help researchers explore the ability of AI agents to play in complex settings. This could offer new insights into the strategies of the world’s most-watched sport. Additionally, this research could pave the way for a new generation of AI agents that can be trained to learn complex skills.
- 1st: $3,000
- 2nd: $2,000
- 3rd: $1,000
Each of the top three teams will also receive a unique experience with Manchester City F.C.:
- Tickets to attend a home match in the hospitality lounge;
- Exclusive behind the scenes access