CT strongholds: the maps at the Major

CT strongholds: the maps at the Major

All hail the defensive side.

The competitive map pool is one of the things in CS:GO which drives the tournaments forward. Every map change, no matter how small it looks, alters the win rates while the map swaps make teams historically good or fall apart. Remember, what was one of the reasons for the Astralis legendary dynasty? The removal of Cobblestone, which allowed them to get rid of a volatile Mirage on a daily basis. Astralis became stellar on every other map and demolished the competition, while setting up the trends on the maps like Nuke, Vertigo, Inferno and Overpass, not missing a beat on Dust2 or Train, usually getting an upper hand in every veto of an important match.

PGL Major Stockholm 2021 became the first Major to feature Ancient - still a relatively unknown quantity, the map which tends to heavily favour defense and allows the opportunity for the massive comebacks ala old Nuke/Train. Well, not in Sweden - Ancient became one of only two maps to feature an above 50% win rate for the offence, mostly courtesy of some insane comebacks Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere posted on their attack. It remains to be seen if that becomes a trend, but compared to a usual 55% CT winrate, this event was quite an outlier.

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The only other map to feature a positive win rate for the offence was Mirage, a classic map which is somehow still not getting swapped despite being in the pool since the very beginning. The map, which was featured in all sixteen Majors so far, allows the attacking sides to seize control in the middle, utilize quick waterfall apartment executes on A or split B like the double smoke setup which was popularized in CIS by Team Spirit. It is still possible for the defence to make comebacks, but same to Dust2, Mirage favours the teams with momentum on their side and with economy mostly being in favour of the attacking sides, it boosts the power of the quick plays even more.

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Every other map, however, turned into a defensive lockdown. Dust2, Inferno and Vertigo all got over 60% win rate for the defence, while Nuke and Overpass have barely not crossed the mark - an obscene amount for the game, where the attacking side seemed to be in control for a vast majority of the last few years. The changes to M4A1-S gave the defence more options, like the second round saves popularized by FURIA Esports in the past and then going for a massive spree of rounds with those guns, which turned the tide on Inferno and Vertigo. Dust2 shift to CT favour was expected due to the recent changes to the T spawn, while Nuke and Overpass with all their changes are known CT strongholds if the team is proficient on the map.

Will the map pool get any changes before the next Major cycle? Nobody saw Ancient coming in before the likes of Cache or even a reworked Cobblestone, nobody expected Mirage to survive instead of Train and yet here we are with Ancient as the second most popular map only to Inferno. But with the next Major not being announced yet, it is probably too farfetched to expect any big changes at least until the end of IEM Katowice 2022 and then Valve might make their next move.