How important is winning your map pick?

We dive into the importance of 1:0 leads, vetoes, and the difference between a tall and wide map pool.

The veto is one of the most important parts of a Counter-Strike match. It's where captains like Finn "⁠karrigan⁠" Andersen have gained an edge for years and where teams have flexed their muscles with seven-map pools and terrifying pocket picks.

The complexity of the game is only going in one direction and one might expect that in the future the veto will become even more important. A full seven-map pool is hard to pull off in a complicated meta of magic molotovs and countless variations of the same default grenades, so teams might end up relying on a smaller section of the pool to get their wins from, making their first pick even more important.

A strange trend has emerged this year. In the 178 best-of-threes from 2022 that we analyzed — including both Majors, IEM Katowice, IEM Cologne, IEM Dallas, BLAST's two Finals, and ESL Pro League playoffs —, the team that picked the first map actually went 1:0 down 53% of the time, more often than they won their own pick.

Normality resumed on the second map, with the team that picked it winning 55% of the time. Overall, that comes to a 51% win-rate for the team that got to pick the battleground. Over such a big sample size this seems to imply that something tangible is to blame for the difference between maps one and two.

The other explanation comes in the way vetoes are arranged. At the Majors, the higher-seeded team will usually choose to be 'Team B', which means that they get to choose the starting side on the third map at the cost of their opponents picking the first map. ESL and BLAST use knife rounds in the third map, but the higher-seeded team still gets to choose who picks first. Because of this, the average HLTV ranking of the team that picks map one (Team A, in Valve speak) is 12.4 in our sample, while the average for map two (Team B) is 8.3; the better teams are choosing to pick and ban second. This is clearly the reason for our skewed statistics on first-pick win rate.

NAVI picked second in the map veto in 70% of their best of threes in our sample

The trend remains, however, once we exclude the Majors and only take into account matches in which the difference between teams' HLTV rankings is less than 5. In this smaller sample of 90 matches, 59% of teams won their map pick on map two, while just 46% won map one if they picked it. There appears to be an advantage to picking second, whether real or perceived, even without choosing the starting side. FaZe chose to be Team B in 59% of their series in this sample and Natus Vincere were even higher at 70%.

Being Team B does give greater control over the veto in terms of forcing opponents to ban first. In certain scenarios this is a clear advantage: If both teams have the same permaban, Team B can wait to see if Team A will float the map. The same applies to the decider, giving Team B a chance to play mind games. Mind games don't make up an 8% difference, however, and it seems clear that the driving factor behind this difference is that the better teams are starting as Team B, rather than there being a huge advantage to starting as Team B.

We can see where Team B's advantage comes from when looking at win-rates on map picks by team. The best teams of 2022 maintain their winning record on their map picks whether that comes in map one or two of a series. This has the knock-on effect of making it even more difficult to determine how big of an advantage a 1:0 lead is in a best-of-three, so take the following with a pinch of salt.

As you can see, 78.7% of 1:0 leads are converted into series victories. That isn't surprising given that the mathematical probability of a coin toss is 75% — 50% chance of winning map two, and a 25% chance of losing map two and winning map three. We can put the extra 3.7% difference down to low sample size or a psychological edge.

A CS:GO match, however, is not a perfect coin toss. Winning map one when it's your own map pick gives you a 74% chance of turning that 1 into a 2. When you win your opponent's map pick, it skyrockets to 83%. This makes coming back from a 1:0 deficit in a best-of-three roughly comparable to coming back from a 4v5 in-game. It also means that three-map series are quite rare, deciders are necessary in just 42% of matches.

This only re-enforces the importance of the veto. If you can target a weakness in the opponent's map pool to take a 1:0 lead, you have a very good chance of taking the whole series. Likewise, if there is an easily exploited weakness in your own map pool, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

Having both a pocket pick and a deep map pool is exceedingly difficult, so when forced to pick one, it is pertinent to discover which approach is more efficient. In other words: Is it better to win your own map pick and risk losing on your opponent's (and the decider) or vice versa?

This is largely a philosophical discussion rather than one with a concrete answer, but statistics can show which teams are successful in one approach or the other. Below is a scatterplot of teams' win percentages on their own map pick and win percentages on their opponents'. Along with the chart there is some new terminology, borrowed from the Civilization franchise of strategy games.

A 'tall map pool' refers to one that is top-heavy, teams that often win their map picks but fall away from their home map. 'Wide' is the opposite, teams that stretch themselves thin. 'Deep' map pools have both width and height, showing that those teams can win on their pick and their opponents', while 'shallow' is the opposite in this case.

fnatic, MOUZ, Movistar Riders, and Copenhagen Flames posed the strange trait of performing better on opponents' map picks than their own, which suggests a relatively wide map pool. A team like Imperial has struggled with a shallow map pool, which is reflected here in their 20% win rate away from their home maps of Inferno and Overpass.

Astralis stand out for punching well above their station on their map pick with a 62% win rate, which might be due to their prowess on Ancient earlier this year, where Kristian "⁠k0nfig⁠" Wienecke found the consistency that eluded him elsewhere. The Danes are joined in the top-heavy zone by Spirit, FURIA, and Heroic — though the number-one team in the world have found greater success both home and away since the break.

FaZe and Natus Vincere, the elite teams of 2022 boasting strong win percentages, are joined by Cloud9 and Liquid in the top-right quadrant. FaZe, in particular, shine in our smaller sample of Big Events. Despite defeat in Rio and a perceived weakness on Ancient, the best team of 2022 achieved both the highest win percentage at home and away in our sample.

Recency bias means FaZe's year may go underappreciated, especially if failure awaits at the BLAST Premier World Final in Abu Dhabi, but statlines like this prove just how good they have been this year and show consistent excellence across the map pool. They did not choose between a tall or wide map pool, they had both.

It's the model all teams will try to emulate in 2023, but with the top twenty, let alone top ten, blown wide open after the Rio Major, there is no guarantee that FaZe or anyone else will manage to repeat this feat. Dominance should never be taken for granted.

Denmark Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Age:
32
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.91
Maps played:
2079
KPR:
0.62
DPR:
0.69
Denmark Kristian 'k0nfig' Wienecke
Kristian 'k0nfig' Wienecke
Age:
25
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
1595
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.69
ok
2022-12-07 15:09
12 replies
akuma still cheaters
2022-12-07 15:28
6 replies
HOW IMPORTANT IS WINNING YOUR MAP PICK? CCT tournament: "We don't do that here"
2022-12-07 16:02
5 replies
LMAO +1 Fuck the 322
2022-12-07 16:34
context?
2022-12-07 17:11
1 reply
Like in mby 60% of CCT matches teams lose their maps picks xd
2022-12-07 18:40
Or the level of the teams in CCT is just different.
2022-12-07 23:54
HAHAHAHA LMAO SO TRUE
2022-12-08 11:42
Whoever made the statistics needs to get a raise! Very nice article! Only created an account to write this. (Reading hltv since 2016)
2022-12-07 16:52
3 replies
you are criminally insane not to make an account if you have been reading since 2016 and you are even more criminally insane to make an account just to write this
2022-12-07 19:55
2 replies
Haha :D had phases where I read the forums, quite irregularly and didn‘t wanna waste my time arguing with the highly mature hltv audience. And I gotta admit I‘m a stat freak xD
2022-12-07 21:17
1 reply
#87
rain | 
United States bendie
hahahaha funny
2022-12-08 05:50
#104
 | 
Australia ceejae
"HOW IMPORTANT IS WINNING YOUR MAP PICK?" 1st sentence: "The veto is one of the most important parts of a Counter-Strike match. " Cool thanks, that saved me a lot of time.
2022-12-09 05:40
anubis bad
2022-12-07 15:10
23 replies
L
2022-12-07 15:14
Ratio
2022-12-07 15:17
#15
 | 
Finland 5way
L
2022-12-07 15:18
L
2022-12-07 15:23
#23
 | 
United States Phanji
L
2022-12-07 15:26
L
2022-12-07 15:27
#29
 | 
Finland Sipunak
L
2022-12-07 15:29
To everyone saying "L" Remember "Reply needs to have actual content"
2022-12-07 15:32
5 replies
L
2022-12-07 15:37
#55
 | 
United Kingdom mbizzle
huge L
2022-12-07 17:00
thats another L for ya
2022-12-07 17:18
y
2022-12-07 21:46
#88
 | 
Finland iroc_xano
k
2022-12-08 06:07
Giga L
2022-12-07 15:35
Humongous L
2022-12-07 15:43
Worst map ever
2022-12-07 16:11
3 replies
not worst ever but it is bad
2022-12-07 19:55
2 replies
Worst ever in an active map pool I meant
2022-12-08 06:19
1 reply
in the active map pool yeah
2022-12-08 13:29
#62
Snax | 
Europe Jezynt
L
2022-12-07 17:20
#70
 | 
Germany aL1337
+1
2022-12-07 19:29
#77
 | 
United States Bl1zzardZ
L and super bad take
2022-12-07 20:48
1 reply
Good take
2022-12-08 13:29
Huh?
2022-12-07 15:10
2 replies
TLDR BIG and OG suck
2022-12-07 15:22
1 reply
#24
 | 
United States Phanji
ty
2022-12-07 15:26
#4
 | 
Russia NOD777
Nerd
2022-12-07 15:10
just pick second gg ez
2022-12-07 15:10
1 reply
+1
2022-12-07 15:17
ok
2022-12-07 15:11
Its not important if youre good enough to win the next two
2022-12-07 15:13
1 reply
it is at EPL
2022-12-07 15:26
Anubis = trash
2022-12-07 15:13
#11
NAF | 
Canada Bak2BED
anubis haters mald
2022-12-07 15:17
#13
 | 
Nepal triskacik
1 000 000 IQ Take from triskacik: Pick your worst map so you don't have to ban it (inspired by G2 Mirage picks)
2022-12-07 15:17
1 reply
#105
 | 
France CMGloriam
the most reasonable comment i read today
2022-12-09 21:02
#14
 | 
Argentina EnvyJ
Anubis trash but ancient worstest
2022-12-07 15:17
>At the Majors, the higher-seeded team will usually choose to be 'Team B', which means that they get to choose the starting side on the third map at the cost of their opponents picking the first map. ESL and BLAST use knife rounds in the third map, but the higher-seeded team still gets to choose who picks first. Majors don't use knife rounds? tf
2022-12-07 15:19
3 replies
#17
MSL | 
United Kingdom NER0cs
That's what that says. Majors: Team B picks side map 3 ESL/BLAST: knife round
2022-12-07 15:20
2 replies
Does it skew the stats in any way when you filter to only majors/exclude majors?
2022-12-07 15:23
1 reply
It says in the next paragraph that when excluding the majors, the numbers don't change much. Team B still performs better in general.
2022-12-08 08:32
clueless
2022-12-07 15:23
who cars
2022-12-07 15:23
#27
 | 
Vietnam _Liam_
Nice 4 FaZe
2022-12-07 15:28
Excellent article. Thanks.
2022-12-07 15:30
#31
 | 
Vietnam _Liam_
Gigachad FaZe "I choose both" lol
2022-12-07 15:31
Another interesting article from NER0. Keep'em coming, bro!
2022-12-07 15:36
1 reply
#49
MSL | 
United Kingdom NER0cs
<3
2022-12-07 16:33
Idk, ask CCT tournament
2022-12-07 15:40
map pickls doesnt matter, every top team must be good on every map
2022-12-07 15:57
1 reply
no
2022-12-07 16:07
great article, #FaZeUp :D
2022-12-07 16:12
This article was most likely paid by a tier5 tournament, so people won't call matchfixing when it happens, 500 IQ
2022-12-07 16:24
Not really important nowadays )
2022-12-07 16:28
MAP TRADES, TEAMS ARRANGING FOR A THIRD MAP, THROWS, EXPLAIN WHAT'S SAID ON THIS ARTICLE. COME ON, DON'T PLAY THE STUPID, NAIVE GAME. WE ALL KNOW COMPETITIVE CSGO IS ALL ABOUT BETS. WITHOUT BETS NOBODY WOULD WATCH 10 GROWN MEN PLAYING A VIDEO GAME. AND THOSE TEAMS, PLAYERS, COACHES, MAKE A LOT OF MONEY BY BEING LISTED ON MOST BET SITES. THROWING A GAME GIVES MUCH MONEY THAN THE TOURNAMENT PRIZE. WITH A MAP TRADE, THEY COULD PLAY FOR REAL ON A THIRD MAP AND ALREADY HAVING THEIR POCKETS FULL.
2022-12-07 16:29
4 replies
New copypasta dropped
2022-12-07 17:11
#73
 | 
Poland BAN_ANIME
least insane hltv user
2022-12-07 20:17
+1
2022-12-08 11:43
+1 this guy have a point here
2022-12-08 13:03
#46
 | 
China RADNIKEY
Civ terminology vamos
2022-12-07 16:29
#47
 | 
Norway Snaids
remember that one period when everyone lost their map picks?
2022-12-07 16:29
#48
 | 
France kennySsSsS
important
2022-12-07 16:32
#51
 | 
Ukraine StX4R
Nip solo
2022-12-07 16:38
1 reply
NiP kinda chaotic. Total coinflip, based on what that graph says.
2022-12-07 20:23
#52
 | 
Poland mimsonqq
Its not important, depends on scenario
2022-12-07 16:46
interesting read.
2022-12-07 16:52
#56
 | 
United States McBubba
Glad to see Liquid in the top 5!
2022-12-07 17:08
tl dr: is not
2022-12-07 17:10
Typo: "possed"
2022-12-07 17:19
I dont know how maps are picked anymore as i dont watch CS but the vetoes are more important, your specific map pick is just securing a good map that you know how to play well, while at the same time guiding the picks a certain direction This is even more evident when you know your opponents preferred maps as well, its even easier to do and more important then
2022-12-07 17:40
#65
 | 
Brazil darkfroid
Love these articles
2022-12-07 18:32
Depends
2022-12-07 18:35
Not so important nowadays
2022-12-07 18:47
pog
2022-12-07 18:57
so map stats dont matter?
2022-12-07 20:32
Nice article
2022-12-07 20:47
#78
 | 
Brazil dio_scuro
cool
2022-12-07 21:15
higher seed teams are preferring to be 'Team B' which ultimately are resulting in the above mentioned statistics. Mind games is the only reason that i can think of as the Team B has a final say in terms of map 2 ban. Also higher seeded teams are obviously feeling comfortable playing their not so strong map as map 1, against the lower seeded teams.
2022-12-07 21:21
2 replies
According to the post above, Team B also picks the starting side on map 3 at majors.
2022-12-08 08:31
1 reply
so there is definitely a great incentive to be Team B.
2022-12-08 17:07
NAHHH
2022-12-07 22:07
It is strange that article fails to mention heavy CT-sided meta. No matter how good you are on maps like Ancient, Overpass or Nuke, it's too much of risk to start on T side
2022-12-08 00:48
1 reply
especially if it is on third map with both teams up 1-1
2022-12-08 02:24
Excellent article. Congrats
2022-12-08 03:18
#90
 | 
Brazil mininuh$
lesson learned. lets just bet on under 2.5 maps
2022-12-08 08:15
That's why Brazil doesn't win anything. We don't have the necessary brains to do a good veto.
2022-12-08 12:41
makes sense, Faze always lose enemy pick but then win 2:1
2022-12-08 13:49
Nice article, but tough to follow through. It has to be made more lucid for readers.
2022-12-08 17:12
1 reply
#102
MSL | 
United Kingdom NER0cs
ty, still working on lucidity but hopefully getting a bit better compared to my first ones. will bear in mind
2022-12-08 17:31
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