May started with a massive surprise to Counter-Strike fans. Not only Valve introduced a new case to the game, but on top of that, they refreshed the game’s competitive map pool with Ancient.
The Active-Duty pool, of course, is the map list used in Valve-sponsored competitions as well as most tournaments. Composed of seven maps since 2014, it hadn’t seen a change in over two years until this month.
Now, Valve were quick to answer one of the biggest questions that came with the new map – will it be used in the Major circuit? Yes, and no. During May, we only saw Ancient being played in a show match, but this will change starting June.
Starting on June 1st, fans will already be able to catch an event that will use Ancient as part of its map pool. The 2nd season of AORUS League 2021 Brazil will use the map instead of Train. ESEA Season 37 will also be using Ancient from that day onwards.
Down the week, however, is when the action really picks up. IEM Summer will be kicking off June 3rd, featuring sixteen squads and a $250,000 prize pool. That’s when we will be seeing the top tier teams having a chance to showdown in the new map.
It will be very interesting to see how teams react to a map change, as it always is. In one of IEM Summer’s first games, we will be seeing EXTRA SALT against G2. Of course, the latter are the clear favorites, but ES could see Ancient as an opportunity to upset.
Overall, while Ancient isn’t expected to be the most played map of the tournament, we should still be watching a couple of maps set on it. It will be very interesting to see teams like Astralis bringing their deep tactical game to Ancient.
While May didn’t see any event using Ancient as part of its map pool, starting June it will become hard to see Train being played professionally. So far, it seems that only FunSpark will continue using Train instead of Ancient, but it’s not confirmed for how long.
In any case, from June until the Major, don’t expect to see many events using the old map pool. Ancient will be part of the Major and players voted to make it part of the ESL Pro Tour as there’s no sense to keep Train around anymore.
When Valve announced that Train was the map being replaced, reactions were mixed. Train is the first map to be reworked by Valve to leave the game after its rework, plus many fans felt that the map was “just fine.”
Still, some facts are undeniable. In the last twelve months, Train was one of the least played maps professionally, being above Overpass and Vertigo only. Moreover, Train was also one of the least balanced maps according to HLTV Stats, surprisingly.
So, how does Train affect teams, particularly? It’s fair game to say that none of the teams among the best in the world heavily relied on Train. At the end of the day, Train was one of the maps that most teams could play, but it simply was no one’s favorite.
This certainly is the million-dollar question around. Ancient is one of the most visually-intensive maps on the pool right now, and its also a completely new map; an unknown layout in professional play.
So, for the time being, it’s fair game to expect a lot from Ancient. Like mentioned above, weaker teams on paper can very well use it to surprise their stronger opponents. However, some teams, like Na’Vi, will lose an ally they had in map picks as they could rely on Train and will have to put in some work in order to add Ancient to their map pools.
Expect explosive and quicker games too. Ancient is a map that will make players count every smoke and flash. As things stand now, it’s also key for the attacking team to execute their entrances in bombsites quickly, or they may get demolished by the opposing side.
It’s worth mentioning that Train wasn’t a map that used to be permanently banned by many teams during map picks. This means that many teams are now either considering Ancient, or adjusting their map pool so they can ban it. Not adapting isn’t an option, as it puts any squad in a major disadvantage during map picks.
With tournaments starting to use Ancient in June, it’s to be expected that CSGO’ll receive meaningful updates related to it. Valve will finally get some very needed data from those events that they will use to update Ancient accordingly.
Of course, the basic layout will stay the same, but just like Vertigo went through some major changes over the months after it entered the competitive map pool, so will Ancient.
Overall, teams will have to keep an eye on patch notes from now until October. It’s only fair to expect to see a considerably tweaked version of Ancient by then. Until then, fans’ll hope too not see many one-sided games, as the map favors the CT team as it is.
Another common topic brought during Ancient release was that it being added to CSGO’s competitive map pool was just shocking. It didn’t match Valve’s previous behavior with maps, after all. Also, there weren’t any signs of a change coming to the map pool.
Still, more importantly, why Ancient? The Cache remake by FMPONE was received with mixed reviews, but it has since then been updated various times. Cobblestone is also constantly brought up in discussions about CSGO maps that should return.
Then, there’s the Mirage and Overpass question. Mirage still is one of the most played maps in CSGO, but its age is showing, visually at least. Overpass, however, not only is showing its age, but it also is one of the two maps that were less played than Train in the past 12 months.
Moreover, Ancient being brought to CSGO’s Active-Duty map pool gives it a refresh that it desperately needed, but after two years without change, it’s not sufficient. That’s not to say that Valve should simply add two maps at together, but at least a roadmap of their plans would be appreciated.
IEM Summer 2021 not only will see Ancient debuting as a professionally-played map, but it also will be an event you won’t want to miss. Gambit, Heroic, G2 and more will be playing, and it’s obvious that we will have some great matches ahead.
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