In February of this year, Valve made the decision to remove Counter-Strike’s most iconic map from the competitive map pool, dust2. The map was replaced by another fan favorite and classic Inferno which had recently undergone its own rework. With the current map pool lacking exciting and competitive maps could Dust2 make a timely return?
Available for competitive play at the moment is Mirage, Train, Nuke, Cache, Cobblestone, Overpass and Inferno. However, many of the map pool problems lie with the two most recently updated maps Cobblestone and Nuke.
Issues with Cobblestone
The former has undergone many changes since its inception in CSGO. Cobblestone went from heavily Counter-Terrorist sided to Terrorist sided faster than a chicken running from Ronald McDonald. The changes to the B bombsite created the one-dimensional style of play it has become known for. Terrorists can simply steam into the B bombsite with an army of flashbangs and so long as one catches a Counter-Terrorist, you can have that bomb down and the round secured. Even after Ninjas in Pyjamas’ coach Björn “THREAT” Pers innovated new smokes for both bomb sites, rushing B still prevailed as the most effective strategy.
An underlying problem is that the economy for Counter-Terrorists can already be detrimental. The ability Terrorists have to dominate the B bombsite only further punishes that economy since there is a high percentage of success whether the Terrorists have rifles, UMPs or pistols at their disposal all with little damage to their own economy.
A recent example that highlights the imbalance of the map was at Dreamhack Austin in which G2 Esports played the map three times. The results were two wins at 16-13 and 16-12 and a loss of 16-14. The fact that Cloud9 and Liquid can amass nearly as many terrorist rounds as G2 and Gambit speaks to its disparity. It shows that there is little difference between a mediocre cobblestone team and high-level ones such as G2 who have known to be specialists on it in the past.
Issues with Nuke
Cobblestone, in fact, is a great map in comparison to the next, Nuke. The rework is simply a re-skinned version of its predecessor and still, holds many of the core problems people had with the original. Directional sound is a core problem within Counter-Strike itself. Although, Nuke heightens the severity of the issue because of its layout. Nuke is the only map in the pool that has multiple levels of height making sound essential to figuring out where the opposition is. However, the sound in CSGO is so bad that more often than not players are led to believe that their enemies are in one place when they are in fact somewhere completely different. Not only that, but Terrorists are particularly disadvantaged since Counter-Terrorists can use the silenced M4 making it even harder to pinpoint where enemies are.
Another core problem was the tight openings and corridors that allowed very little Terrorist movement. This made it easy for CTs to shut down oncoming attacks. In the update, the doorway into the A bombsite was widened in an attempt to counter this issue. Despite their intentions, Valve, in fact, made it easier for Counter-Terrorists to see into hut and lobby making it just as hard as it was before.
They also made the addition of the catwalk around the roof of the A bombsite. In my opinion, this is a legitimately pointless area for Terrorists. Again, in their ultimate wisdom, Valve has more so added another option for Counter-Terrorists as now, they can push up outside while maintaining a height advantage. Even if the Terrorists manage to succeed in getting outer control, a player using the catwalk has the same impact on the round as if he self-boosted on the roof or walked up the ladder.
Nuke’s inclusion in the map pool also triggered outrage amongst the professionals due to the map it replaced, Inferno. A popular choice among all teams, Inferno was heralded for its ability to produce competitive games. There were many top inferno teams such as Fnatic and EnvyUs whom could garner large numbers of T rounds while the likes of Virtus.pro and Dignitas were known for locking down the CT side. It allowed specialists on each side of the map a chance to shine. No teams are even vaguely interested in becoming a specialist on Nuke, which can be told from how infrequently the map is played.
What could Dust2 do?
Dust2’s impact on the map pool would entirely depend on the outcome of the rework. It was removed due to its stagnation in play, with the same strategies being repeated over and over again. If there are new ways for Terrorists to engage bomb sites and more ways for Counter-Terrorists to defend them I see the rework being successful.
There have been many suggestions as to what changes should be made. One of the most popular ones is opening up the skyboxes around the map. Doing this would allow teams to be more creative with strategy as opposed to the same two or three seen before its eventual demise.
Another suggestion has been to utilize the area before Terrorists enter B halls since it is unused space. It could be used as a foundation for B site attacks or maybe the bomb site could be moved forward so that it is more evenly distanced between Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists.
Due to the maps history, it is likely that teams will be interested in adding it to their map pool when construction is eventually finished. It was prominently used in North America against Europeans where they could demonstrate their in-game talent. If tactical depth is created as a result of the rework it will be a refreshing change to play and watch. Hopefully it retains some of its run and gun aspects while also promoting more strategical play.
No matter what happens fans will rejoice when Dust2 is eventually re-added to active duty. So long as it’s in favor of either Cobblestone or Nuke, I’m an advocate. The CSGO scene has been long awaiting another shake up and Dust2 could be the map to do it.