Was the Vertigo Map Addition a Hasty and Unnecessary Decision?

May 20, 2019 | 0 | 2141| |

In March 2019, Valve added Vertigo to the Active Duty Map pool in Counter-Strike Global Offensive. It was a controversial decision, one which caught everyone by surprise. The addition of Vertigo came out of the blue and teams have to quickly adapt to the new map. They have to form strategies and understand various angles within the map. This includes smoke timings, flash timings and spam angles. There were no prior indications of a new map being added to the map pool. Vertigo has seen multiple updates to the map and yet many players feel it is not good enough for competitive play.  

In the past two months, teams have been playing Vertigo with increasing frequency. As they get more familiar, some teams are slowly allowing it to remain in the map pool. It is still the least preferred map for most of the teams. However, with increasing familiarity, teams are slowly making progress with their strategy and playstyle on the map. The first official match on Vertigo was between AGO and Nordavind for the Loot.Bet Season 2. AGO won the series but they lost Vertigo 5:16 to Nordavind.

If we take a look at all the times the map has been played at the professional level, one would say there is an even balance between the Terrorist and Counter-Terrorist sides on Vertigo. The majority of the maps have resulted in a very even split between the Terrorists and the Counter-Terrorists. However, the sample size of available matches is just too small to make any reasonable analysis from the same.

Vertigo’s addition to the Map pool caught everyone by surprise

A screenshot from Vertigo B site
No one expected Vertigo to be added to the competitive Map pool

Vertigo’s addition to the Active Duty pool was relatively a big surprise to the players, analysts as well as fans. No one had considered Vertigo to be a map fit to play professional Counter-Strike that too at the top level. Moreover, Valve ported the map as it was to the Professional scene without any trial period for the map itself. Players had little to no time to acclimatise themselves with the map.  While the timing for the said decision ( just a few weeks after the Major) was the right moment, there were no indications regarding the said move.

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As players dug into the map to try and make sense of it, there were definitely indications that the map is not ready for competitive play. In the subsequent weeks, as the map sees more playtime, the general consensus is not favourable to the map. But is the negative outlook to the map due to the novelty of the map or is the map actually bad? Irrespective of your answer, we can definitely agree on one thing.

Adding the map directly to the Active Duty was the wrong decision


Professional players have been asking for a new map for a long time. The CS: GO Map pool had become quite stagnant and the same seven maps were seeing active gameplay. While Valve did rotate a few maps in and out of the map, mostly due to remakes, the total map pool remained woefully small.

Valve’s decision to add Vertigo directly to the Active Duty Map pool, however, was the wrong choice. The decision caught everyone by surprise and none of the Players would have ever wanted Valve to use this approach while adding a new map.  Instead of adding the map to the active duty pool, they should work on establishing a direct feedback channel from the professional players.

In order to provide feedback regarding the addition of the new map, Pros would need to play the map on PUGS or on private matchmaking servers. Valve should expedite the entire process by establishing a CS: GO Test server where the new map would be available for professional play. Other game developers such as Blizzard already do the same for their games such as Overwatch. Valve also had a Test server for dota 2 for a few years.

A Bomb-site features a ramp and so many spammable walls
The A Bomb-site is preferred by the Terrorists due to the easy bomb-plant

Alternately, they could also have added the map only for public matchmaking. Instead of forcing professional players to play Vertigo at the competitive level, Valve should have taken feedback from the community first. Professional players would also voice their opinion regarding the architecture of the map and provide feedback on the changes necessary within Vertigo. With a decent amount of feedback and with open channels of communication with the players, it would be easy to iron out the multiple problems on the map.

Blizzard does something very similar with the release of new maps in Overwatch. New Maps are first available for play in the PTR ( Public Test Region). Subsequently, these maps move to the Death Match, casual and other game modes. By the time the maps are added to the competitive pool, they receive multiple tweaks based on feedback from the community.

No New map will be perfect when it is added to the active duty pool. Even after allowing time for feedback, there will always be problems in any map. However, Valve can ensure minimal need for changes after the map has been added to the Active Duty Pool.

Is the map really bad or are Professional CS: GO players just out of their comfort zone?

It is still early days for the map and teams are finding out new things and strategies on Vertigo. The state of Vertigo Gameplay is in a very weird state at present. Terrorists prefer the A Bombsite, they get a decent bomb-plant and then try to take very passive positions with the cover of the ramp.

The Counter-Terrorists on the other hand, choose to try to smoke defuse the bomb as was seen in the match between MiBr and Team Liquid. Then again, this is just one of the very few professional matches at the highest level between Top tier teams on Vertigo.

Are professionals just complaining because they are out of their comfort zone? Or have they already gone into detailed analysis on the map’s architecture and design and failed to find new angles and playstyle? It’s still too early to answer the question, but as we get more matches on this map, it will become clear whether the map is fit for competitive gameplay.

Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev who is possibly the best player in CS: GO right now feels that players need to practice on the map before they voice their opinion. He asks for an understanding that the game is Valve’s Intellectual Property and they can do whatever they want with the game.

One can understand his perspective, but we cannot deny the trend of negative opinions from other professionals. From environmental deaths, backstabs to B-rush, we have seen it all on the map. With the map sure to be included in the upcoming Starladder Major, teams will want to hide their strategies on this map and unleash it as a surprise en route to the Major.

What is wrong with Vertigo?


As we mentioned earlier, the map does not seem to favour any one side in particular. There is a slight tendency for the Terrorists to gain more rounds, however, it is not something that is truly out of control. For example, it cannot be compared with the Nuke and Inferno of 2015 ( which were extremely CT sided maps at the time).  It is not dominance by one side that is the principal problem with Vertigo. Vertigo demands a very unique and diverse playstyle from the teams.

The biggest problem for the map remains the early access to the A Bomb-site for the Terrorists. There is usually no position for the CTs that they can get fast enough to defend the site before the bomb goes down.

We do expect Valve to make changes to the map, the spawn zones and the time it takes to reach the A bomb-site. Valve could ensure that the terrorists take longer to reach the A bombsite or move the CT spawn closer to the A bomb-site. Either way, the current model where the terrorists get an almost free plant is unacceptable.

One solution proposed by former Professional CS: GO player Mathieu ‘Maniac’ Quiquerezis is to have multiple spawn locations for the Counter-Terrorists. It would allow the Counter-Terrorists to take positions on the Bomb-site and actually contest the terrorists for control of the site. This would result in a round of Counter-Strike very similar to how it currently plays out on most maps.

Valve’s Options for adding new maps in CS: GO

Vertigo’s sudden addition to the map pool did not go down well with the community and the players. Valve’s intentions in adding new maps and keeping the map pool fresh are definitely good, but their execution of the same was not effective.

Valve could ensure a smoother and constant process of adding new maps and game-changing updates to CS: GO. Here’s how Valve could give thought to implementing and adding new Major updates and maps to the game in the future.

The Public Test Server

Blizzard already uses a Public Test Server to allow their players as well as professionals to try out new maps, heroes and game updates. This system ensures that the final iteration of the map, when it is added to the competitive pool is ready for competitive play.

I have already talked about this previously in this article and I feel this would be a welcome addition for the way Valve handles new updates. We don’t expect Valve to add or remove a new map anytime soon, not before the next CS: GO Major at the very least. However, it would be great if they could add/remove the new map in a Public Test server before adding it to the professional scene.

A Rotational Map System

CGO Maps : Mirage, Inferno, Nuke and Dust2
CSGO should implement a Rotational Map system in the game. Image Credit: Dexerto

There is definitely a need for new maps to be added to the CS: GO Map pool. Valve did listen to the pros and added Vertigo to the map pool. But the manner in which they added the map could go for some refining and less surprise. 

Having a rotational map system would not only provide a schedule for the addition of new maps but also prevent such surprises in the future. Even better would be if Valve were able to announce the addition and removal of maps months in advance. It would allow team coaches and support staff to be ready to play on the map at release. 

For now, Vertigo has replaced Cache on the active duty map pool. If teams have any secret strategies on the map, we are yet to see it in action. Vertigo remains a map where spams through smokes and walls remain the hard reality. With many pros complaining about the nature of the map, we expect to see changes on the map very soon.

The author

Esports journalist. An esports fan, former wannabe pro and occasional angry young man. You can find him trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR or just chilling in Rocket League. Or maybe building an entire city in Cities: Skylines. The current mood is always a surprise.

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