The 2024 Entelect Challenge Launches

Sproutopia, this years’ Entelect Challenge has just launched. The event will run from March, and the finals will take place at Comic Con Africa on 28 September at 11am on the centre stage.

“Each year we look to build the Challenge around a popular game, and this year is Sproutopiaˮ says Bianca McFadyen, Marketing and Communications Manager at Entelect. “The idea behind the game choice and corresponding theme is not just to make it appealing to those of us who love gaming, but to also provide a game with simple enough rules that anyone with a basic understanding of programming can enter.”

The 2024 game is based on the Discord favourite, Land-io. The aim of this game is to outsmart your opponents and claim the most land by the time the round runs out. Sproutopia has put its own spin on the theme, introducing new challenges to the table.

This year, the structure of the Entelect Challenge will consist of a mini-playoffs series (often known as tournaments), a staggered strategy component, and the grand final playoff event at Comic Con Africa.

The mini-playoffs will provide more opportunities for contestants to secure their spots at the final event. Unlike previous years where the top eight contestants were determined only in a final mini-playoff right before the grand event at Comic Con, the current structure will allow contestants to pitch their bots against other players throughout the year and stand a chance of winning a golden ticket to the finals at either of the mini-playoffs.

There will be two formal mini-playoffs during the year. The first will be in June, and is titled ‘Petal Power’, and the second in August, called ‘Gardens Galoreʼ. At these playoffs, contestants will be able to pit their bots against one another in round-robin format and possibly win a golden ticket to the finals.

The first submission in June is considered the first milestone for 2024 participants, as ‘Petal Power’ will mark their first opportunity to submit the bot they have developed since the March launch and see how it fares compared to those of other participants.

“The first tournament always helps the participants gauge their bots’ performance and abilities, and the top four will walk away with their entry to the finals. All other participants still have a second chance of making their way into the top eight,” explains McFadyen.

Recently introduced, there is an in-between session, referred to as a “Friendlyˮ, where participants can rematch their bots after any adjustments without any results implications. Thereafter, the last mini-playoff takes place in August to determine the remaining finalists who will battle it out at Comic Con Africa.

As in previous years, the Player Portal will be available to contestants to validate their bots, and the community forum will be there for contestants to chat about their builds, discuss ideas and communicate with the Entelect Challenge team. Entelect is adding the Build-A-Bot Workshop event again as it was a huge success last year.

“What a lot of people don’t realise is that competing successfully in the Entelect Challenge is not about having the smartest, most supersonic bot. It is actually all about player strategies. Your bot may be simple in design, but its strategy could be highly effective. The collaboration between the community also makes for an amazing experience,” explains McFadyen.

Prize money for this years’ event is R200 000, awarded at the Finals at Comic Con Africa. First prize will be R70 000, R35 000 will go to second place, third and fourth place receive R25 000, and fifth to eighth place receive R10 000.

Entelect runs the Challenge every year as a fun way to bring the software community together, but also to demystify the world of coding and AI. “We want as many people to enter this competition as possible and discover a whole new world of machine learning and AI,” says McFadyen.

Machine learning is a term that is often used interchangeably with AI, but they are actually very different. Machine learning is a type of AI that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed by focusing on the development of computer programs that can change when exposed to new data.  By comparison, AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.

While AI is seeing an exciting growth, machine learning is all around us and changing the way we live and work. There is no doubt that jobs of the future will rely on machine learning to a greater or lesser extent.

The Entelect Challenge shouldn’t be viewed as something that only super coding geniuses can enter. This competition is designed for anyone with a basic level of programming who is interested in the world of machine learning and the future of software.

This year we expect a wide variety of people from different backgrounds to enter which is going to make the player strategies really exciting. Who could win is anyone’s guess.