Players & coaches reflect on recent map changes
HLTV.org asked players at ICE Challenge and BLAST Premier Spring to give their feedback on the recent changes to Dust2, Train and Mirage, producing an array of opinions, both positive and negative.
On January 29, Valve released an update that introduced changes to Dust2, Train and Mirage. Dust2 and Train had skyboxes opened in Upper Tunnel and Ivy, respectively, while Mirage saw changes that were more drastic with the addition of a bench in Middle as well as the removal of the lip on Balcony. The T-side entrance to Upper Middle was also widened and a wall-bangable section was added to Palace.
We decided to pick the minds of professional players and coaches on the adjustments, and what they felt were the most drastic and impactful. Over the course of ICE Challenge and BLAST Premier Spring, we spoke to representatives of Natus Vincere, Complexity, Vitality and others to get their thoughts on the initial impact the changes will have.
Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski: "It's the strangest change because most players on the B site on CT know how hard it is to deal with B pops and just not getting blind. Dealing with that, in general, has been really tough. Now that you'll be able to execute from within Tunnel and be able to have crazy support flashes, I don't really know how they're going to be able to deal with it while in conjunction dealing with the possibility of a Long rush.
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač: "As a CT you're now going to have to figure out a way to stop B executes. It's one of the biggest changes."
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire: "It didn't change much, except for the flashes; I don't think B smokes are going to be really good, to be honest, but the flashes are going to help a lot with B contact plays, rushes, and retakes. It's going to help both sides, so I'm really glad they made this change, even if it's not going to be a big one."
Benjamin "blameF" Bremer: "It's more about the CTs having to play two B a lot of the times. Usually, Dust2 was very focused on shutting down Long, but now people have to be very afraid of the early game as well. The smokes you can throw on B aren't going to be too new of a meta, maybe towards Window and Door, but that's it, I don't think we'll see any crazy executes. Instead of playing more towards Site and Plateau, and getting flashes behind you from a teammate, the CTs have to play close to Tunnel now, especially early-round."
Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte: "It's going to be rough for the B site players. Ethan on our team hates it, so it's going to be interesting."
Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad: "I'm not playing B anymore, so I don't really know and we haven't tested it too much, but it was hard enough to hold B before, so it looks stupid."
Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså: "It just opens up more opportunities for the Ts to execute through flashing and smoking over B. It's definitely going to be a hard time being the B player on CT (smiles)."
Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy: "The changes to Dust2 are a little bit imbalanced because you really need to sit down and analyze them. Ts can now execute on B and you won't be able to counter it. The only way you could counter it now is by having the CT players on B save grenades. You save the nades, but the Ts can make contact plays with flashes, so maybe you need to constantly play with an AWP, and even then, you might just get flashed overhead. I think it will significantly impact the T side, but both teams will play on the T side eventually, so they can repeat much of the same.
"I don't see a massive overall difference, it's just that the side balance will change. It's always interesting to follow tendency changes and everyone will have to adjust. It will be interesting to see what CTs come up with. For example, you can smoke Upper Tunnel just like you would smoke off Banana as CTs on Inferno. You waste grenades, sure, but you smoke them off and prevent them from entering, throwing off the flow of the game. As a result, different areas of the map will be used. From my observations, when the CTs find themselves at a disadvantage, they start taking risks and gamble. Gambles introduce the random element, and it will just introduce more randomness to the map."
Dastan "dastan" Akbayev: "B site is one of the toughest spots. Two CTs find it very hard to hold the site and for now, it's a bit unclear, because perhaps they can exploit the skybox opening themselves."
Kenny "kennyS" Schrub: "Opening the skybox on Dust2 offers more opportunities and I think it's always good to have more opportunities. We might see a lot of impressive stuff soon that we've never seen before, and that's the point."
Lucas "Bubzkji" Andersen: "It's obviously the biggest change, due to the fact that it was a really T sided map already, and now you're giving the Ts the chance to basically execute; people have been talking about this change since 1.6, and now it finally happened. It was so rough holding B, now it's going to be near impossible, I feel like. You can't even hear the flashes and you just get instantly blinded. It was rough before, and now it's even worse."
Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen: "We'll see some funny executes from Tunnel where there are a lot of good sky flashes and stuff like that. That will be awesome, but I don't think the meta is going to change that much, to be honest."
Finn "karrigan" Andersen: "I really feel the map is T sided, and as far as I have looked, the CTs don't get much out of the update. It's more like the Ts get new options. If it's powerful or not, we'll have to see in the future."
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač: "It's the best change they could have made, it's going to balance the T and CT sides more, so I'm looking forward to it."
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire: "It's going to have a great impact because people will be able to throw a lot of nades from Ivy. It's a great change because you couldn't throw nades from that side. Not many teams really play around Ivy, maybe only lurkers, so it's a great idea to balance the map more."
Benjamin "blameF" Bremer: "I don't think it'll make much of a difference. You can throw easier smokes, so maybe some of the tactical teams will have an easier time mixing it up and faking, but other than that it's not going to make too big of a difference."
Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte: "The change is actually pretty good, I like it a lot. Being the Ivy player, now I can actually help and support my team from Ivy by throwing nades because there's no skybox."
Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad: "They introduced the change so that you can throw shit from Ivy to Outside. The buildings are so tall, so you can't flash, there's no chance. You need to throw a smoke, and the air time is like 12 seconds or something, it just takes forever. I think that was a waste of time."
Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså: "I guess it will remain kind of a CT sided map, in my opinion, but I guess we'll have to see how it pans out."
Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy: "The changes on Train won't change anything at all because when you're located in that area of the map, any grenades that are going through the roof give away your position. Your opponents understand where you're located. The actual idea seems strange, and any round that you play through Ivy you can cut off with any grenade seeing as there's a narrow entrance, it's a bit silly. Perhaps in late timings when Ts are playing with a man advantage and it doesn't matter whether the CTs know how many people are in Ivy, there could be a useful grenade between Plant and Red Train, it could genuinely help. If you don't have the opportunity to throw it from Mid, you can throw it from Ivy. That's the only significant grenade that can change a round, the rest can be thrown as usual from Ivy."
Lucas "Bubzkji" Andersen: "The changes on Train are going to be minor, it's just the skybox being opened up. From what I've tested so far, there don't seem to be any advantages by throwing the smokes from there. Maybe you could make some fakes, but it's a minor change."
Finn "karrigan" Andersen: "Opening skybox on Ivy makes sense, in a way. You can also throw faster smokes towards Outside, I think that's going to be a good change to the game. What I like about the skybox is that CTs can abuse it as well. They can take faster Ivy control by smoking from Z Connector, for example. That will even out, and maybe even favor a the Ts a little, but I also think that was needed on a map like Train."
Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski: "It's a huge negative for the CT side. It's already been tough dealing with rotations or being in a man-down situation on Mirage, so now you're going to have to be super aware of Window. People can jump up into Window, jump into Ladder Room and then they can get into Catwalk kind of late, so you're always going to need to have someone spotting that. I don't know what the late-round setup is going to be now with that because you're going to have to dedicate someone to do that."
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač: "I don't know how Bench will play out and the Top Mid widening change, but I think that overall it won't change too much."
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire: "I don't really like Bench because it just means that teams are going to play more individually, and it doesn't add to teamplay or allow it to grow. It's not a good change for the CT side; Mirage was already a hard map as CT, because when you're on the A site, you have four angles to cover when you have only three players there, so it's not easy at all to cover all the spots, there are always timings and other things to consider."
Benjamin "blameF" Bremer: "It's a pretty big thing mid-round to late-round with the way Bench is in Middle, but I don't think early round is going to make too much of a difference because the CTs are usually always around either Connector, Window or even Short in the beginning. It's still more efficient to boost up into Window instead of jumping into it in the early round, at least. Maybe in clutches or 2v2s late-round, the CTs have to be more focused on one guy coming behind from B."
Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte: "My only complaint is the Mirage Bench, it's kind of ridiculous that you can just jump into Window. It's such a big part of the map, and if you gain control so easily it's kind of frustrating."
Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad: "Bench on Mirage is also stupid (laughs), and I think every pro thinks that way. People are saying that it's so easy to get into Window and flank and all that stuff now. Fair enough, but you still make a sound. After all our practice, I didn't feel any difference, and we've played it quite a bit. The only thing that's hard with Bench is that the Catwalk guy is kind of in the open. I don't know, we'll see after a while, but right now no one is taking advantage of the changes, especially the bench on Mirage.
As for jump-spotting on B, it's not as good to do it anymore, but actually I like that one because running out of B apps as a Terrorist, it's pretty hard to clear under you, you need to jump out or jump up on the ledge, so it's not a bad change."
Kenny "kennyS" Schrub: "I like Bench on Mirage, I like the fact that you can go Window by yourself. It offers a lot of possibilities, maybe even too many. We'll find out with time."
Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså: "On Mirage it's easier for the Ts to get into Window, it provides more opportunity for them, but I don't think it's too big of a change. I guess it just became a little bit harder to play CT side on Mirage."
Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy: "If we look at Mirage, I haven't fully taken in all of the intricacies, but I understand that players can jump into window alone, albeit with noise. If we look at it logically, well we had the same boost into Window before, and what? Now you can just do it yourself. Theoretically, it shouldn't have a big impact, but in reality, it will have an impact because now two players can make noise in Middle and make moves that used to require three people or even one player can fake the opponents out and hop into Window, while his teammates play out a completely different round setup and it will be really difficult to catch the Window guy out.
The Ts will have more mobility, but the main advantage isn't even being able to jump into Window, but being able to spot Short from Bench. That will now be difficult, but again, it will lead to CTs using more utility and taking gambles in the early stages. As for the wallbang in Palace, it's insignificant because recently nearly everyone has mollied Palace to get the player to move. If you don't, he can catch timings and mess things up, so it's a good idea to commit the Molotov. Overall, it'll just give players a fluke shot, something every map has; everyone knows not to stand there. There are a lot of wall-bangable objects in the game that people don't use, despite knowing full well where they are. It could be the same scenario here: some will try to wallbang, some won't even touch it."
Dastan "dastan" Akbayev: "The changes are good. I honestly expected Cache to be brought back in, and everyone would just forget about Mirage. Not too sure what the impact of Bench will be just yet; as for B balcony, it's a good change because after trades on B it was really difficult to pile into the site because of that little barrier, so I think to remove it balanced things out well."
Lucas "Bubzkji" Andersen: "Bench is really overpowered for Ts. We tried it on the server, and you can barely see the guy's head on Bench from Short. The good thing with Mirage before was that, let's say, there are three opponents alive and you see two guys, you know he could never be boosted through Window, but right now they can just keep messing with you by jumping up, jumping down. It really screws with the rotations."
Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen: "I don't like the change on Mirage. Jumping into Window alone favors the Ts so heavily, it's going to be so mental. I don't think Mirage is going to be a good map to play as CT, and even before the change it was a T-sided map, in my opinion. That bench is going to hurt the CTs so much. The approach on Mirage is going to change a lot: either you fight for mid or you play the sites."
Finn "karrigan" Andersen: "I literally don't understand why they lowered the trim on Balcony. Jump-spotting B has always been a very hard time against good AWPers, so now you're making it really tough for the B guy. Bench, even though it's tough to play short now, can add something new to the game, and also change the meta. In the end, Bench can be good, but people just have to get used to it."