This is the Fifth practice puzzle for the 2017 WSC.
I wasn't really sure how this variant was going to work. The example has a lot of givens, so I wasn't sure how it would work from that. I set up an opening section and figured I'd go from there. The opening section actually gave more information than I expected and I managed to reduce the second half of the puzzle a bit. It wouldn't get unique though, so I added an extra circle just to fix a small uniqueness issue. It doesn't make for the prettiest Sudoku, but it's a nice result anyway.
I generally like these kind of circle count puzzles, because it gives a fun interaction. Every time a circle gets figure out, a bit of new information gets revealed. It's like you're adding extra clues to the grid during the solving process.
Rules for Sudoku
In this Sudoku there are a number of circles. A digit in a circle indicate either "the number of neighbouring digits bigger than that digit" or "the number of neighbouring digits smaller than that digit" or both. Not all possible circles are marked.