This is one of the dumber arguments I’ve come across: The one that fans cite all the time that “pros need to know all the maps” in CSGO and Overwatch. There are a few reasons why this is dumb.
- It ignores the fact that pros are in competition with each other. There is no point in which you have truly mastered a map. Even if you become the best at it, other teams will likely try to surpass you on it anyway. (Virtus.Pro and Na’Vi were the best on Train before being surpassed by SK)
- That race alone can mean an insane amount of time just honing one map to make it reliable enough that you can depend on it to win.
- It ignores the reality of the veto phase. Even if you are a team that has mastery of one map, that doesn’t mean anything once the other teams realize you only have one good map and they ban it.
- Thus, if you wish to be good team, you must either have the good map be something other people are willing to play regardless (Mirage for the old Luminosity squad or Cobble/Overpass when Gambit with Zeus first rose), or you need to have a solid map pool that extends to four so that you have a chance to win a regular best-of-one.
- Once you get into the best-of-three stage, you need a larger map pool to stay competitive or be instantly drubbed out (this is what happened to old Luminosity core once it hit the Major playoffs).
- So all of the time needed to master one map is now spread over to five maps.
- In terms of raw time, a team needs about 2-4 weeks to feel good on a map. (I got these numbers from asking Moses how much time a pro team needs to be good on a map if they were in a world without obligations; this was a rough estimate). There are seven maps in CS:GO. Even more in Overwatch. In other words, in terms of raw time, that means it can take a team 3.5-7 months to be good on all possible maps, and this doesn’t account for losing maps along the way.
- An exact example is Gambit when Zeus joined. It took that team nine months to be good on Cobble, Overpass, Cache, Train, and Inferno. That is only five maps, and I suspect their cobble was not that good by the very end of their time together. When you look at the obligations this team had compared to other top teams, they also had far less travel time.
- This entire thing is exacerbated in a game like Overwatch where you have extra factors such as extra maps, game modes, and using subs to alter strategy.
- We have yet to account for obligations like playing online qualifiers and ESL Pro League/ECS all the time, thus increasing exhaustion and decreasing the amount of time you have per map.
- We have yet to account for someone abusing something we have yet to see on a particular map (A one-way smoke no one has seen before in CS:GO, or a never before seen comp like what RunAway did in OGN APEX Season 2)
- We have yet to account how a patch can wildly affect the meta and thus force teams/players to relearn a particular map.
- Look back at the time it takes to build a map pool. It took Gambit nine months. For most teams, nine months is when a roster shuffle happens.
- We have yet to account for things like the personal lives of pro players. There is only a certain amount of time in the day in which a pro gets good practice, and the rest is a potential mindless grind. They must also have lives outside the game (with relationships, hobbies, etc.)
- We have yet to account that travel takes off about a week on both ends and as players need to keep playing online games when they travel, by the time they come back, they aren’t in a good state to get good practice, thus the amount of time it takes to get good on a map increases.
- Even if you are good for some time on a map, you will eventually be phased out by teams learning what you did and taking it further or the meta. This has happened to Virtus.Pro multiple times, and part of the reason for their slumps is that they had to rebuild their map pool when teams learned and adapted to what they did. (As Pasha once joked, the reason SK was the best Train team in the world was because SK copied what VP did, but did it better)
- Finally, Roster shuffles can drastically change the way an entire team’s map pool plays out and in turn that forces all other teams to adapt to what that team is bringing out (SK, after acquiring felps, went from Overpass/Train to Mirage/Cache. Gambit with Zeus was about Train/Overpass/Cobble and without him has gone to Cache/Mirage).
I’m sure there is more to think about, but that’s a basic rundown. This is why lowering the map pool for CS:GO from seven to five or lowering the number of game modes in Overwatch (Like assault, which I think sucks) is a viable and potentially beneficial option as that extra time would go into honing the remaining maps to a stronger degree. Thus you will see a higher level of skill/tactics/teamplay on the remaining maps.