Hit or Miss? Pros give their thoughts on the new maps
Two months after the ‘big’ patch hit our screens, we yet again face a new balance patch, complete with new ladder maps and a new ladder season to boot. We here at ROOT Gaming thought we didn’t want to send you into the new season uninformed, so we wrangled up some expert players to part their wisdom upon you.
In these articles which will be in two seperate parts, I’ll be going over the new map pool and examining the new balance patch, with views from three pro gamers, representing each race.
In no particular order these three fine gentlemen are;
Seither, Australia, Terran – Having represented his scene abroad at multiple WCS events and having never placed lower than third in every OCE / SEA WCS event since 2016, Sheldon 'Seither' Barrow is a bastion of the OCE/ SEA scene. Representing SYF Gaming and helping them to three consecutive ANZ Pro League victories, Seither will also be competing in WCS Winter – America and is currently a top GM player.
Demi, India, Zerg – A strong Zerg player hailing from the SEA region, Varun 'Demi' Immanuel has represented himself and his current team OSC Elite in a multitude of different tournaments. Having played at the prestigious IEM PyeongChang tournament last year and helping OSC Elite finish second in the ANZ Pro League, Demi is hoping to build on those results this year, already securing qualification for WCS Winter and WESG in 2019.
Astrea, United States, Protoss – A long standing member of the American community, Max 'Astrea' Angel is a heavily rated player who is on the hunt for a big 2019. Having previously competed in 2015 WCS, Astrea, who represents new team Alpha X, has been on a steady rise in the past few months, making heads turn in the American scene. He qualified for WCS Winter through the ladder, of which he at the time of writing sits at number four, with an MMR of 6466.
In the first of the new seasons for 2019, Blizzard will be introducing four new maps into to the pool. We will say goodbye to Stasis, Blueshift, Para Site and Cerulean Fall and introduce Cyber Forest, Year Zero, Kings Cove and New Repugnancy.
These will join Port Alexsander, Kairos Junction and Automaton to make the final seven for the map pool we will most likely see at IEM Katowice, WESG, GSL and WCS Winter.
Lets get on to what the pros had to say;
Blizzard: "Take care, as the fastest path to your opponent through this mysterious forest is narrow until the surrounding rocks are cleared. The main bases are very open, so watch out for enemy air drops and small units lurking in the corners."
“This one looks like the bases are too close to each other. Maybe it can be offset by the droppable main and tank push abuse vs zerg. It might be bigger than it actually looks though [from the picture], it just seems like there isn’t much room to attack into. It also looks like a bad cyclone mech map vs zerg because they can easily get five bases up ramps.
I’m a little skeptical at the moment but I’ll wait and see.”
“A lot of zerg’s aren’t a fan of main bases being big for example the map Automaton. If you land a double drop in and you don’t have creep it could do a lot of damage. At first glance I could see a two base tank push where you elevate the marines with tanks on the low ground which could be really strong.
In ZvZ if it takes awhile for queens to block the ramp, 13/12 could be really strong.”
“I think the expansions seem like they’re spaced [and] the map looks slightly bigger than Cerulean Fall. There are lots and lots of chokes on this map. It seems like Blizzard are pushing this stalker colossi thing so it could really good for that strategy. All the high and low ground favour colossi as well. Any map where the reaper can’t get into the main I’m very happy about.”
In reply to me asking about if he could see tank pushes being a threat on this map, Astrea said, “For me as a protoss player, tank pushes aren’t that strong vs protoss a lot of the time.”
Blizzard: “Located within the Void, Year Zero features a long rush distance between the main bases, but players can open a faster route by breaking down rocks between them. The northern Watch Tower will also be a key strategic location early in the game.”
“This is the only map I straight up don’t like. I think these narrow maps that can be split are just poor design, it tends to make long boring games where the guy with the strongest army wins and you can’t do much manoeuvring. I don’t enjoy maps like this outside of balance, especially in TvT [as a game can turn very defensive]."
When asked if this will be an auto veto, Seither said he will veto unless he is against weaker players.
“Looks okay with the tempest being nerfed as well as the battlecruiser. The only build that could be a bit of a meme could be ranged liberators. I’m quite curious how that will play out. It looks a lot bigger than Stasis, maybe we can get some good games going on that map. Only time will tell.”
When I asked Demi about Seither’s point of vertical spawns leading to boring games, he replied with, “Hard to say since the only map with vertical spawns in the current map pool is Stasis and I’ve vetoed it.”
“I guess it is kind of like Stasis without the gold bases but it seems bigger to me. It seems not nearly as strong for tank pushes, not nearly as many chokes, although it does have the double watchtower set up either side. As a Protoss player I think just based on the map layout stargate is favoured a lot, particularly in PvT.
When I asked about Seither’s point to Astrea, he said,
“I think that’s actually a really good point. Personally it doesn’t affect me, at least it didn’t affect me on Stasis but perhaps that was because it was such a cheesy map. Maybe maps like this would favour mech [however] I don’t find myself reaching situations like that often.”
Blizzard: "Despite its large size, King's Cove has main bases on the smaller side, so space may be tight as the game progresses. Scout, attack, and flank well or become another buried treasure lost within the cove."
“I’m trying to figure out how big it is to wall against zerg, past that though it looks like it has a lot chokes and has lots of bases together. I think they could remove one of the close bases though, it seems too many. It looks good for tank pushes against both zerg and protoss, you can cut protoss off between the natural and the third.
A large blinkable main is annoying but you should be able to keep warpprisms out if there isn’t too much dead space.”
“It feels like if I can get into a good position. It shouldn’t be a problem going up to four bases, even a fifth if I can squeeze it in. You could see a lot of players turtling really hard on three bases if they get behind.”
In regards to the double entry natural, “That’s going to be a bit of a meme for the terrans and protoss, it will be hard to wall off for sure. It basically kills two base ZvZ builds since you can’t wall off."
"I mean you can play a map without a full wall but there will be so much complaint about it if you can’t three building wall. No protoss player will play that if that’s actually true, I hope it’s not true. The terrain in the centre of the map is interesting to me with the two rocks that are blocked off. Other than that this map is really big. I do think it’s going to be a map where late game happens a lot. I could see a blink stalker build being good on this map vs Terran."
Astrea on the fact the second and third bases are up ramps.
“It’s pretty good when you’re defending as protoss. You’re not really afraid of anything when you’re going up to three bases. Maybe you’ll see a lot of quick three base builds, I can imagine in PvZ maybe I bust out a faster triple nexus than usual, maybe off two gates and whatever tech you want.”
Blizzard: “Thanks to some uncleared rubble from a ruined terran city, New Repugnancy’s congested center area could prove problematic for maneuvering large armies. Destroying rocks on the top and bottom of the map opens new routes to late-game bases, so beware of sneak attacks.”
“I don’t know about this one. Looks easy to get bases again and with lots of chokes, it’s also kind of narrow too. The only thing making it better than Year Zero is that two of the bases are kind of forward. Doesn’t look very droppable either.
It’s the same thing when you get so many free bases and not much counter, it’s good vs zerg until brood lords and terrible vs protoss. I wish they would stop putting so many free bases together.”
“Again the main is quite big but this looks to be a fairly standard map like the first one, with the only exception of the main being vulnerable to tank pushes. I imagine you would take the [third] below the main base to avoid being assaulted with these sorts of pushes.”
About the tight congested middle area, Demi said, “If the terran gets into a good spot with a lot of tanks it could be hard to break through, although I’m not sure since a lot of terrans just make the first two tanks and go into mines afterwards. The chokes could be really deadly for zerg if terran can get some juicy widow mine shots off.”
“This seems like another choke filled map with lots of low and high ground features. I was going to say that either third you take is pretty far away from the natural but if you take the third on the high ground it’s a pretty tight choke so that doesn’t make it too hard. It seems like Blizzard is really favouring macro maps lately.
This is another map where the reaper is often going to get full scouting information, it seems like more and more maps that blizzard are sending out have these huge cliffs where a reaper can enter from lots and lots of places. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not.”
Given the opportunity to rate the complete new map pool as a whole for their races, Seither scored it a 6/10, Demi a 7/10 and Astrea with a 6.5/10.
Pay attention for part two of this article, where I’ll be asking these three their opinions on the new balance changes and what it means for their race and the game as a whole.