Polt, Scarlett, Zest, 9 other StarCraft pros react to the current map pool

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Thumbnail image courtesy of N/A / Blizzard Press

Blizzard has decided to approach Legacy of the Void's map pool with a dash of eccentricity. The seven maps that make up the pool have been a hugely debated topic amongst StarCraft players as they begin to find their niche in Legacy of the Void’s still-new meta. With that said, certain maps seem to favor one race over the other, and that, along with awkward pathing, has led to its share of frustrations.

Dusk Towers has proven to be one of the most standard maps due to its ability to fit into the current meta. The natural is easier to secure without suffering heavy punishment with early aggression. With that said, it might be considered too dull to play on because of the inherent ability to turtle and prolong games. There are also maps like Prion Terraces that have pros scratching their heads, as the natural expansion now has a gold mineral line that makes it more favorable for Zergs while also making it difficult to hold off early to mid game aggression. As a fairly new expansion, this creates a unstabilized structure for a fair game. From a viewer's perspective, these maps create exciting and unique matches. However some pros view playability as a trumping factor over uniqueness.

The map pool’s diversity is a hot-button topic for pros in the competitive scene. From two-time GSL champion Lee “INnoVation” Shin Hyung to Team Liquid’s Jens “Snute” Aasgaard, here are what some of the scene’s best players think of the current map pool.

Zerg Players

Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn

After a few months of playing on this map pool, I mostly like it. It's a much more diverse pool than we've had over the past few years which lets players have their own unique style by vetoing maps that don't cater to them (also helped by LotV being less figured out than HotS was).

There is only one map — Central Protocol — that I really dislike with the current game design. Having an open third, no ramp to main, short distances between bases, large air space around main, and open main; there's just too many things that are hard to deal with.

Jens "Snute" Aasgaard​ - Team Liquid

I was always in favor of standard-ish maps such as Coda, King Sejong Station, Polar Night, Whirlwind and Cloud Kingdom. Maps like Ulrena, Prion Terraces and Bridgehead for example, don't appeal to me in the same way.

I do enjoy the variety a little, each map plays out differently. Ulrena for example has some nice features to it. I just wish that they would help reduce randomness a little overall, and then it wouldn't be so bad. For example, on the previous version of Prion Terraces, there was a lot of luck involved with the opening build orders in ZvZ. To some extent, there still is. Central Protocol had issues with vertical positions initially being enabled. Some maps play out incredibly differently based on the spawns. Ruins of Seras horizontal is very different from Vertical and Cross. I don't think that's a good thing if the rush distance is too short. I don't mind four-or-three player maps as long as the rush distances are long, regardless of spawning positions — like Cactus Valley, or Whirlwind.

I think Dusk Towers is a great map that is well appreciated by players across all skill levels. It has the size of a four-player map, without the randomness. In general, I think the map pool isn't all that bad, but a lot of maps are just flat out in favor of certain races. I think that there are many maps out there that would create a better map pool as a whole with more room for stylistic vetos rather than vetoing maps because they're really bad in a matchup.

Shin "Hydra" Dong Won​ - ROOT Gaming

In my opinion, the best map for me is Dusk Tower because I like a straight map that I can play basic skills vs basic skills. I think Dusk tower is the most simple and flat map in the current map pool. I didn't like Lerilak before they patched it, but after they patched (blocking the thirds with breakable rocks), it's much better to play on than before. I like current map pool basically.

Stefan "PengWin" Mott​ - mYinsanity

Overall, I think it’s fair to say that the official Blizzard map pool has been nothing short of abysmal since release. Blizzard has said that they want unique maps so that we get a wide variety of strategies, but essentially we are stuck with maps where people will only do one or two strategies because abusing them is so much better than anything else. An example of this would be Ulrena where now, in ZvT and ZvP, it is almost impossible to hold a properly executed ling-queen drop all in even if the Zerg doing it is making a fair number of mistakes. Another good example would be roach-ravager-ling all ins against Protoss on Lerilak, or multi barracks reaper TvZ on Central Protocol. Even on a map like Ruins of Seras where it’s not really full of “abusable tactics,” the game will almost always be decided simply on the spawn locations and the advantages they give. The changes that have been instituted on Prion, Lerilak and Central are decent changes, but you can’t fix a complete failure of a map with a bandaid.

Many people seem to agree that this is the worst map in recent memory since the Dreampool, and it’s frankly something of a travesty that Blizzard decided to keep the maps for a second season running and will only remove half of them next season.

Kudos to whoever made Dusk Towers though. That map is actually not horrible.

Terran Players

Choi "Bomber" Ji Sung​ - Afreeca Freecs

Out of the seven maps, Orbital Shipyard and Dusk Towers are the ones that have the best balance between the three races. I don’t like Ruins of Seras. If the starting point is vertical, the distance between the two teams is too close and so the strongest build is to go for an early to mid all in. Random factors also occur too often making the balance between the races very divided.

Choi "Polt" Seong Hun ​

In my opinion, the current ladder map pool is quite favored for Zerg, and I think it is one of the main reasons why Zerg players are performing very well right now. For example, Lerilak Crest and Ruins of Seras could've been a decent map in HotS, but they can't be like that in LotV. The game has changed a lot, but those two maps are very similar to the maps in HotS. The trait of the maps with wide main entrance were not too bad in HotS, but it is hugely favored for Zerg in LotV. Prion Terraces looks cool with a lot of gold bases, but the map maker should have thought of why almost all of the other maps have gold bases in the middle of the map or somewhere hard to secure. Dusk Towers is ok balance wise, but playing on that map is quite boring because the map forces players to take the third base in the early game.

Ethan "iaguz" Zugai ​

The changes they made recently were good changes, but I wouldn't be against just having a new map pool. Blizzard stated their goal was to not have a map pool dominated by four boring macro maps and a slightly weirder one and they certainly accomplished that.

As a nerd who likes a bit of consistency in his games, my preferred maps are the boring ones like Dusk Towers and Orbital Shipyard. The other change that made maps bearable was the adept nerf which made it harder for Protoss to cheese Terrans out on f******** maps like Ulrena or close air Ruins of Seras. Not impossible, but a good bit harder.

Lee "INnoVation" Shin Hyung​ - SK Telecom T1

I enjoy Orbital Shipyard and Dusk Towers because they are maps where you can secure your second base. Safely, I think of this as a map where you are simply having a match of skill. I don’t like Ulrena and Prion Terraces. Playing Ulrena versus Zerg is ok but there are small details in the map that make it difficult for me. Prion Terraces has a gold natural and it is difficult to block off an all in versus Zerg. On Ruins of Seras, If the starting points are diagonal, push and management is hard versus Zerg. While on the other hand, there is no good feeling versus Protoss and the opponent cannot do anything strategically. It is too hard to scout on this map.

Protoss Players

Théo "PtitDrogo" Freydière​ - mYinsanity

I think Blizzard did a good job creating maps that create a lot of different kinds of games. But this come at the cost of great imbalance, especially in PvZ where you just expect to lose always lose prion/protocol and hope to be lucky on Lerilak/Serras (close position is always pretty much gonna be a loss against Queen/ravager all-in if the Zerg knows what he's doing).

Overall there's a lot of very stupid situations created by the current map pool and its "unique" maps, but it seems that from Blizzard's point-of-view, these are entertaining and good for the game. So I guess that if the imbalance looks cool then it's alright.

Ahn "Seed" Sang Won​ - MVP

First of all, I don’t know why there is such an emphasis on gold mineral on Prion Terraces. It’s not just one, it’s two. The race that has the easiest time acquiring the expansion means Zerg receives a lot of advantages. Also, Protoss players who face Zerg have only a 10 to 20 percent winrate so I don’t understand why there is no patch for this map.

Second of all, Ulrena. This map is too close. Especially, the streets or the air space are too close so even though you know about the Zerg player's early strategy, there is almost nothing you can do to block it (early zergling, ravager, queen rush or fast queen and zergling drop, etc.).

Thirdly, Lerilak Crest is a map that has been around since beta, but is a map that really shows how lacking the map designer’s knowledge of the game is. If the entrances are this large, in a TvP, the Terran, or in the instance of ZvP the Protoss, the early damage you get due to the map is really hard to recover from. Before you make a map like this I think it is critical that they have to understand how the three races are designed. The current maps are the worst. I don’t understand how though the season changed, we are to keep playing these maps.

Chris "HuK" Loranger​ - Evil Geniuses

In general, I feel like they are good maps. I'm happy to see Blizzard trying to keep the map pool fresh. At the same time though the balance on them isn't perfect but at least Blizzard are making steps in the right direction, especially listening to the community and pro feedback.

For me, as a pro player, I will always want maps that aren't difficult as a Protoss player, but more importantly as a fan of the game,I just want to keep seeing new maps. I think the most important factor is to not let the map pool get stale, so new maps constantly would be a lot more preferable for me as a fan/spectator and even pro player.

Joo "Zest" Sung Wook​ - KT Rolster

I like Dusk Towers because it is generally considered a very balanced map. A map like Orbital Shipyard because you can secure your expansions pretty safely. For maps I don't like, it would be Prion Terraces and Central Protocol. For Zergs, Prion Terraces is a map where they can acquire gold minerals very easily so it is hard to face them. On Central Protocol, the distance between the opponent and me is close but our expansions are far apart from each other. Therefore, it is an open terrain so it is hard to play on it.

The interviews in this article have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Skye Bui has a passion for dry humor and esports. Follow her on Twitter.

WCS 2017 details released

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IEM Katowice 2017 to feature $250,000 SCII tournament

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IEM Season XI Katowice 2017 will feature a StarCraft 2 tournament with one of the largest prize pools in recent time, a $250,000 pot, ESL announced on Friday.

The only recent SCII tournaments with bigger prize pools have been Blizzard's 2016 WCS Global Playoffs and Finals, which featured a $500,000 pot, and the upcoming Alibaba event World Electronic Sports Games 2016, which has a $300,000 pot.

The event will take place on Feb. 27 to March 5 and will feature 76 players competing for a $100,000 first prize. Qualifiers kick off on Jan. 25

Click here for the full article via en.intelextrememasters.com

GSL increases 2017 prize pool, Code A removed

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The 2017 Global StarCraft II League will featured a $48,000 prize pool across three seasons. However, it's not all expansion for the venerated SCII league, as GSL will also be cutting the Code A division to focus exclusively on Code S.

Click here for the full article via gosugamers.net

$2 million WCS 2017 circuit to add more events where Koreans face off with foreigners

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The path to the Global Finals of the 2017 StarCraft II World Championship Series has been revealed. Featuring three global events, this year's $2 million circuit gives the Korean scene and international WCS circuit multiple chances to duke it out before the playoffs at BlizzCon.

In a break with previous years, Blizzard has committed to keeping the WCS format "relatively unchanged" through 2018. "Our hope is that presenting a multiyear plan as well as the entirety of next year’s schedule this early can help players better manage their schedules and pursue opportunities with certainty and confidence," the announcement said.

IEM Katowice is slated as the first "global" event on the circuit, where both Korean and international pros are invited. It will be the only event where the winner will auto-qualify for the WCS Global Finals regardless of what region they come from — if a South Korean pro wins IEM and earns the coveted first ticket to the Finals, then one less player will qualify from the WCS Korea standings at the end of the season. Likewise, if a foreigner wins the event, one less player will qualify from the WCS Circuit standings.

Blizzard's announcement also confirmed the return of the Global StarCraft II League in Korea, once again hosted by AfreecaTV. The league will award three players with WCS Finals spots over three seasons, and will also host one weekend tournament each season that awards WCS Korea points, starting with the SCII event at IEM Gyeonggi Dec. 16-18.

Outside Korea, the WCS Circuit will include four Championship events hosted by DreamHack, beginning with a $100,000 event at DreamHack Austin in April. Each event will have an open bracket, but North American and European players will have a chance to qualify via four Challenger Finals, which will also award circuit points. Players from Latin America, ANZ, SEA, Taiwan and China will have other yet-to-be-determined ways to qualify.

Adding more opportunity to see how Korea pairs up against Circuit players is "GSL vs. the World," a mid-year tournament hosted in Korea where all-star pros from around the world will face off to prove which region has the edge heading into the final stretch of WCS 2017.

The 8 qualifying players from both regions will head to the WCS Playoffs in search of global dominance. Korea will have three players qualified through GSL Seasons 1, 2 and 3, and five players qualified through WCS Korea standings. From the Circuit, the victors of the four DreamHack events will be accompanied by four players that qualify through the WCS Circuit standings.

Kristine "Vaalia" Hutter is a news editor for theScore esports. Though the fire is so delightful, she hopes that it will not snow, will not snow, will not snow. You can find her on Twitter.

New 1v1 ladder maps revealed for 2017 season

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