Sat 10th Jan 2015 - 3:43pm : Gaming

When ESL One Cologne was announced roughly a month ago excitement spread within the CS: GO-community, Dreamhack Summer had just wrapped up and already the next major was in sight, but still, CS: GO was not the land of hope and glory. In the announcement it was revealed that the qualifiers for the event would feature five maps; Dust 2, Nuke, Train, Mirage and Inferno. Now if you’ve followed the CS: GO-scene for the last decade, you would know that these maps are familiar to anyone in the scene, which is considered a big problem by many in the scene.

Over the 15 years of competitive Counter-Strike, there has been times where either tournament organizers or players have put their foot down in refusal of continuing to play a certain map. An early example can be found in 2002 where Frank Nuccio, formerly CPL, decided to retire de_prodigy due to its lack of entrances to the bombsites, or when the CPL Winter 2006 map pool rotation was announced and the community stood opposed to the inclusion of de_cbble, a map which had the stamp of being decided on whoever was lucky enough to start the map on the CT-side.

For the fans who’ve followed Counter-Strike since it’s early days, these maps are not considered alien, but maybe there needs to be reminding for everyone of other maps which has been introduced to map pools of tournaments and abandoned shortly afterwards. In late 2004 the French section of ESL announced that the map de_sunny was to be played in their tournaments and in early 2005 CEVO reported that the two maps de_cevo_crete and de_cevo_russka were to be played in their upcoming season following them being crowned the winners of CEVO’s map contest. Even as late as 2011 the decision was made by several event organizers such as Dreamhack, ESL, WCG and ESWC to bring in de_forge along with the currently played de_mirage in the official map pool for the remaining events of the year.

“Variety is good for the scene.”.

While many may look back at the history of Counter-Strike and say we’ve progressed together as a community in the journey of successfully turning our heads away from bad maps left and right, it can not be forgotten that tournament organizers unsuccessfully featured the maps in their map pools in the first place. While I agree that variety can definitely be good, people have to understand that change can not come too often and variety for its own sake is not good for the scene.

Two days ago it was announced that the map pool for ESL One Cologne had been revised. Train had been replaced by Cache, and Overpass and Cobblestone was added in order to bring in a breath of fresh air to the otherwise old map pool. Well, that is the only reason I can think of at least. Why do we need seven maps in a map pool when it comes to deciding what the best team in the world is?

Surely a tournament with ten thousands of dollars, or in this case for ESL One Cologne with a massive prize pool of $250.000, should be decided on the best maps possible. When a player’s unforeseeable future is on the line, there shouldn’t be additional maps in order to bring in a breath of fresh air. The age of a map should never dictate whether or not it should be featured in a map pool, it should simply be looked upon from a competitive standpoint and then compared to other maps before a decision can be made whether it should be included or not.

Others may argue that Overpass and Cobblestone are legitimately good maps for competitive play, but doesn’t that make for the argument that they should replace the old maps rather than just being added to the otherwise already large map pool? If you in less than a day can write up a 10-page document with faults on a map that is supposed to be competitively balanced enough to feature in a major tournament, as done by Josh “steel” Nissan and Brandon “c0tton” Miao, there’s obviously something wrong with the map and the effects the map will have on the tournament in a competitive aspect.

I’m not trying to sit say that the big four: Dust 2, Nuke, Inferno and Train should always be the maps played in a major tournament, I’m just trying to make the point that until we find maps that are better than these, there is absolutely no reason to replace them for the better of CS: GO as a competitive scene. We as a community need to strive for the addition of new good maps to online tournaments or lower tier leagues such as Starladder ProSeries or ESEA Main, where the maps can get legitimately tested by good players and then polished when it comes to structure and map dynamics in order to hopefully overtake one of the older maps. It’s only then we can start negotiating whether a map should be replaced by another.

A perfect example of this is de_cache which with help from ESEA has rightfully so managed to make it into the map pool for ESL One Cologne in August. The map was tested in proper environment and later on approved by the community and professional’s for future events. The replacement of CS: GO’s version of train has been long awaited, and I think most of us are relieved that the replacement wasn’t any other map than Cache in the end.

You may make the argument that Cache is an old CS: S map, and sure, you’re correct. Still there’s a reason behind Cache’s or Season’s success in competitive CS: S, they were introduced to the scene the same way Cache was introduced this time to CS: GO and received the same approval by the community and professional’s.

“If CS: GO is to grow, we need new maps”.

Some people like Thorin might not understand the need of new maps, Thorin can rely on his past experience and see breakthroughs in development of strategies, and draw comparisons with his exceptional CS-knowledge, resulting in every played map looking different to him. Many players and viewers can not see things the way Thorin can, to them the maps become stagnant.

Another personality who’s been vocal in this matter is Lurppis who might also have trouble understanding newcomer’s to the genre who want change. Lurppis has lived through hell of being a progamer in the 2000’s himself and can relate to other progamer’s who live on minimum wage, playing Counter-Strike. I understand his frustration of this horrible map pool and map veto change done prior to ESL One Cologne because if he was to play a tournament of this size, he would want to play it the most fair way possible to avoid getting eliminated by a team he knows he can beat at the majority of the maps, and then miss out on very important money for his own continued career in e-sports.

The CS: GO-scene simply can not continuously include new maps from recent Operations due to your taste of them. You may state that we need brand-new maps created likewise to CoD-maps in order to attract more casual viewers, however that would just trigger a damaged competitive scene given that it would lead to even worse competitive games and even worse games equals less home entertainment value.

The expert player’s desire change in the map pool as much as you do, they simply wish to make sure the maps they’re going to play on for cash are balanced and structured in such a way that they can depend on their ability to bring home the cash, instead of knowing that the maps are produced an entertainment purpose where mapmakers and designers have disregarded their feedback.

The intro of new maps for the sake of brand-new maps would be the death of competitive Counter-Strike. If new maps were to be introduced regularly every new launched operation, that would result in maps being played at a lower skill level.

That league was played from late 2012 until April, 2013 at the Global Finals, and it is simply now in the summer season of 2014 where it has lastly been established as a practical map, brought into competitive play by Valve, been announced as a map at a major tournament in ESL One Cologne and been accepted by a lot of gamers and the web developers. Now do not forget, as previously pointed out, that Cache was a map played competitively in the CS: S days, that probably offered it an extra boost coming into the CS: GO-scene.

Individuals were dissatisfied by the truth that there is presently no map played competitively that has taken its baby-steps into the competitive scene in the age of CS: GO, but the basic answer is that there hasn’t sufficed time to establish an appropriate excellent map that has the potential to one day change one of the veteran maps through the entire process of intro and cleaning.

“Pro’s should be able to adapt to new maps accordingly”.

Individuals make the argument that professionals should be able to adjust to newer maps and that might make the meta of the game more interesting, we would possibly see different stars increase in the scene due to their ability to adjust to a brand-new map and make up genuine approaches in a brief amount of time. The job of an in-game leader after all is to be able to supply this to his group, and a much better in-game leader would reward a team in the end. Possibly teams such as ex-LGB would not be able to depend on their aim to take maps from some of the very best groups worldwide. The MOBA and RTS gamers adjust to patch changes all the time, why would not CS: GO-players be able to adjust to new maps?

Adaptability already exists in the scene, how else would NiP time after time make up for their mistakes in a previous tournament and basically kicking the ass out of their remover in the next one? The trouble with presenting adaptation as a skill to the scene when it concerns adjusting one’s group to a new map is that the skill itself makes the tournament less interesting, instead of more exciting.

Before ESL One Cologne one could write up a lot of storylines for the event, for example is this going to be the occasion that Titan finally bounces back? Will ex-SK be able to live up to their buzz after a remarkable performance at Dreamhack Summer season, beating fnatic in the group stages and taking a map off NiP in semi-finals of the E-SPORT SM tournament?

Now due to the position we have actually put ourselves in, some of that enjoyment is going to fade away since we’re going to wind up with the basic explanation that a team didn’t adapt to the brand-new maps well enough. When they compared versus that other team because hyped play-off match where the loser would go house and the winner would advance to a much more hyped match, we’re going to wind up with an expert analysis including “they were simply fucking shit at this new map … that’s it.”.

“Well, then they didn’t should have to win”, no maybe they didn’t deserve to win, but that still does not offset the reality that they didn’t deserve to win due to a shit reason compared to if the playoff match would have been chosen a map they have actually practiced for ages due to the fact that it is legitimately good. The 16 groups going to Cologne are supposed to be the 16 most proficient groups worldwide, however by including Overpass and Cobblestone to the map swimming pool we have actually put ourselves in an area where we aren’t enabling the groups to display their skill to the finest of their capability and the reason for knock-outs in the competitions is going to be based on luck of the draw especially.


Counter-Strike commemorated its 15th anniversary this year and starting to panic about the age of a map swimming pool and lack of introduction of new maps now is ludicrous. When the initial five maps were revealed for the qualifiers Valve certainly took the criticism offered to them about the lack of new maps in the competitive scene and did something about it. Completion outcome is maybe the most questionable decision ever taken in the CS: GO-scene when it comes to competition organization. The competitive scene should be left alone and led under assistance of the expert gamers within it. When $100.000 are going to be distributed to the champions of Cologne in August, there is a huge danger that the winner’s will not get the attention and respect should have due to this mess triggered by a loud community that didn’t believe two times and an insecure designer.

Among the greatest majors of the year of 2014 in CS: GO has actually been mocked due to a series of events where gamers couldn’t keep their hands of the key-boards and count on experts and professionals, and developers attempted to kindly their income source by making one of the stupidest decisions ever made in the history of CS: GO.

When competitive and casual clashes, there is no middle ground. We have to choose in between a fair competitive scene, and a rejuvenating casual scene. One which will bring down the video game on its knees, and the other will certainly continue the tradition of Counter-Strike for a few even more years till the next big turn of occasions.



Rupert Cary

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