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Map bias in Counter-Strike

DISCLAIMER: This is a very opinionated piece, where I centralize most of the themes and topics around my own opinion, read on at your own risk.


Every map has an inherent bias – the only map close to having a ‘perfect’ balance was Inferno of 1.6, but even that had a slight edge toward CT teams. Balancing of a map to create a true 50/50 chance on gun rounds, is impossible. For now, I’ll break down what makes up each side of the spectrum and answer some potential FAQs about my opinions on the bias’ for maps.

T-sided Maps

via http://cso.wikia.com

Maps you might be familiar with that are famously T-sided include Dust II and Cobblestone. Both maps are quite an uninteresting watch, as the flow of the game feels off. At times it feels like quite literally anything can happen. I can see why people love these maps. They are easy to play in a random PUG;  for those who prefer to watch action, and craziness all over the map, these maps are perfect.

T-sided maps are forged when the CT team is given limited options for aggression that aren’t harshly punishable, and they also have a middle lane for the Terrorist side to cut off the rotation of the CTs, that the Ts can easily take control of. When these two circumstances meet on a map, it creates a T-side bias.

But Cobble is a very tactical map, what about the NiP smokes?

via http://counterstrike.wikia.com

Just because you can throw some fancy smokes, and execute at all in any sense, does not make a map tactically based. A tactic based map is a map that you are required to have proper T-side executions and a system. Tactical maps entail tactics. Maps such as Cobblestone and Dust II do not require tactics and in fact, some of the best teams in history on these maps play loose with no tactical regime.

Are you saying Dust II is a bad map?

In my personal opinion, yes Dust II is a bad map.

So you think T-sided maps have no place in the map pool?

I think they definitely have a place, as they can create fun and exciting matches at times. That loose style of play is fun to watch as a casual viewer, especially with great players at work. T-sided maps are nice for a mixup but I personally think they should not dominate the map pool.

CT-sided Maps

via http://counterstrike.wikia.com

Maps that favor the defense are made to make tactical incorporation on the offense much more critical. Famously CT-sided maps are Nuke, Train and Overpass. Not surprisingly, without proper tactics on any of these maps, you will most likely get bodied. In my personal opinion, these maps make Counter-Strike the great game we know, as tactics are what separate Counter-Strike from every other first-person shooter game.

How are CT-sided maps made?

To create a CT-sided map, you basically just need to give options for the defense to rotate that can’t be cut off easily by the offense. Now, creating what I would call a great CT biased map is difficult. Maps such as Overpass and Train have done wonders for this. Giving the CTs plenty of options for aggression, and the Terrorists many options of attack.

It’s no fun to watch a team get 10 rounds on CT side every time!

via http://esport.aftonbladet.se

The battle for T-side rounds is what maked Counter-Strike an incredible game. Watching incredible skill on display, to win five to six rounds, knowing that the team will kill it on CT-side. Teams such as Fnatic were famous for that style of game.

Watching a team run up to seven, eight, even nine T-side rounds on a map we know is CT-sided, with flawless execution, and incredible teamwork is great. Teams run by Kévin “Ex6TenZ” Droolans known to have this philosophy. Whether skill or tactics is the focus, games are incredibly exciting to watch on defensively biased maps.

How can you like Nuke? It’s an awful map…

I wouldn’t say I particularly like this current version of Nuke, but I still do love the ideas behind it. The map definitely needs some more attention, which we know Valve will most likely never give it. A victim of unfortunate circumstances leaves the map in it’s worst state. The older versions of Nuke, particularly the 1.6 version, created some incredible Counter-Strike and it’s a shame to see it like this.

We may never see a map achieve true perfection of balance, but I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing…


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