Op-Ed: Maps and Loathing in Las Vegas

Editorial Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of over.gg

In the last few hours further of details have appeared on Major League Gaming's events page including the schedule and maps per round for the $100,000 Vegas Overwatch Invitational set to commence on Friday 16th December. That's ten days from now, maybe eight days before teams will fly out to Las Vegas, and now they casually reveal that the maps are preset for every single round of the tournament - from the groups to the grand final.

You read correctly. There will be no map draft for what was set to be the most competitive North American Overwatch tournament to date. How can we go from the progressive ban-ban-pick-ban-ban-ban at DreamHack Winter to no map draft whatsoever? The mind boggles. Is this a serious competition or is it an art exhibition?

Slasher kindly totted up the map totals (not including more potential juicy Ilios tiebreakers):

  • Ilios: 9
  • Temple of Anubis: 5
  • Route 66: 5
  • Eichenwalde: 4
  • King's Row: 4
  • Hanamura: 3
  • Watchpoint: Gibraltar: 3
  • Dorado: 3
  • Numbani: 3
  • Volskaya Industries: 2
  • Hollywood: 2
  • Lijiang Tower: 2
  • Nepal: 2

Originally posted totals were inaccurate and have been updated, most significant changes being Hanamura dropping from 5 to 3 and Route 66 rising from 3 to 5.

MLG Vegas

The top two maps could be mistaken for the competitive scene's most scorned list, whilst tried and tested favourites like Hollywood languish in obscurity. It's not even about which maps pros like to play, it's which maps they actually spend the majority of their time practising. Do you want to see North America's elite play at their best or not?

As the licensing authority for tournaments of prize pools greater than $10,000, Blizzard received heavy criticism form the pro scene for fixed maps at the first major, ESL's $100,000 Atlantic Showdown back in August. Since then their approach seemed have softened or at least developed in to a more scattergun approach.

The $300,000 Overwatch Open in Atlanta saw teams drafting maps on paper off air, banning until three maps remained. Likewise, BananaCulture's $192,000 APAC Premier used the same ban until X maps remain system which has been pervasive since competitive Overwatch's beta largely due to the influence of OWDraft.com, the most wildly used drafting site.

OGN's $178,000 APEX Season 1 adopted a hybrid system where the maps that could be played in each game in a series were restricted to a particular game mode. Although still not ideal, teams had some element of choice at least. Blizzard's own Overwatch World Cup featured set maps throughout, but can be excused on the grounds that it was literally an exhibition tournament. MLG Vegas is supposed to be a serious attempt to determine who the best team in North America is, but the addition of arbitrarily fixed maps only serves to muddy the waters.

The naive amongst you might think that it is reasonable to expect teams to produce elite performances on all thirteen (soon to be fourteen) maps, but that is simply not the reality of top tier competition in any esport. Teams work hard to develop a subset of maps on which they can perform to their highest level. It does not make sense to spread their finite practice time thinly across every map in the game when they could gain a mastery of a few in the knowledge that they can ban out their worst maps in tournament play.

Blizzard seem oblivious to these simple facts, instead favouring some bizarre last-shall-be-first system where they promote the maps and game modes that the majority of the competitive scene have actively pushed back against since day one. The pain of acknowledging that some maps and modes are simply worse than others seems impossible for them to bear.

No one is trying to shame map creators. There is no hidden agenda behind competitors map choices, they simply pick maps that they feel they can reliably win on. 2CP maps quickly fell out of favour because the number of team fights required to win produced seemingly random outcomes for many teams. Even within the Control / King of the Hill game mode that is heaven to some and hell to others there has been a historical consensus that Ilios was significantly worse than the other maps in part due to random factors like the central pit o' death on Well.

Teams want to feel in control of their destiny and a haphazard fixed map system takes that away from them. A proper map draft like those used to great success in other major esports like CS:GO represents the best interests of the teams and adds further strategy to every fixture. It creates an additional narrative and allows for teams to dictate the terms of the engagement rather than be subjected to some preordained coinflip.

It is confusing and frustrating to see Blizzard fumbling on this issue when they have proven willing to listen to pros and to compromise or even completely U-turn on issues like stopwatch and hero limits for the betterment of the game. I have no insight in the internal politics of Blizzard, but I really find it hard to fathom why they would prefer fixed or even semi-fixed maps beyond their own vanity.

Removing this artificial impediment to competition can only serve to produce better games, which in turn can only fuel the popularity of Overwatch as an esport. Hear the collective plea!

#1
2 Frags +

wtf

wtf
#2
3 Frags +

Ghost titled by CaptainPlanet <3

Ghost titled by CaptainPlanet <3
#3
-7 Frags +

"The mind boggles. Is this a serious competition or is it an art exhibition?"

Am I reading news or an opinion piece?

"The mind boggles. Is this a serious competition or is it an art exhibition?"

Am I reading news or an opinion piece?
#4
10 Frags +

An opinion piece

An opinion piece
#5
-6 Frags +
AdmirableAn opinion piece

It is both, and it's a mess. Please make us of disclaimers and keep them seperated from news articles.

[quote=Admirable]An opinion piece[/quote]

It is both, and it's a mess. Please make us of disclaimers and keep them seperated from news articles.
#6
1 Frags +

So much 2CP. This is gonna be painful to watch.

So much 2CP. This is gonna be painful to watch.
#7
4 Frags +
HALIt is both, and it's a mess. Please make us of disclaimers and keep them seperated from news articles.

Understood, I will make it more apparent.

[quote=HAL]It is both, and it's a mess. Please make us of disclaimers and keep them seperated from news articles.[/quote]

Understood, I will make it more apparent.
#8
2 Frags +
HALAdmirableAn opinion piece
It is both, and it's a mess. Please make us of disclaimers and keep them seperated from news articles.

I mean yah it's an opinion piece on a piece of news that's not abnormal at all, also you can tell it's an opinion piece by the end of the first paragraph what even Is the problem lol

[quote=HAL][quote=Admirable]An opinion piece[/quote]

It is both, and it's a mess. Please make us of disclaimers and keep them seperated from news articles.[/quote]

I mean yah it's an opinion piece on a piece of news that's not abnormal at all, also you can tell it's an opinion piece by the end of the first paragraph what even Is the problem lol
#9
4 Frags +

HAL what do you find good about this

HAL what do you find good about this
#10
2 Frags +

I got no beef with HAL, if you discount the World Rankings and Picked Over it has been quite some time since there has been any editorial content on over.gg - he's absolutely right.

I got no beef with HAL, if you discount the World Rankings and Picked Over it has been quite some time since there has been any editorial content on over.gg - he's absolutely right.
#11
2 Frags +

9 rounds of Illios? 9!?!?!?!? But...... Why?

9 rounds of Illios? 9!?!?!?!? But...... Why?
#12
2 Frags +

I think the tally is off for some of them because anubis and route 66 are played in the exact same matches but have different counts. What I got when I tallied them was

Ilios: 9
Anubis: 5
route 66: 5
Eichenwalde: 4
King's row: 4
Hanamura: 3
Dorado: 3
Watchpoint: Gibraltar: 3
Numbani: 3
Lijang Tower: 2
Hollywood: 2
Nepal: 2
Volskaya Industries: 2

I think the tally is off for some of them because anubis and route 66 are played in the exact same matches but have different counts. What I got when I tallied them was

Ilios: 9
Anubis: 5
route 66: 5
Eichenwalde: 4
King's row: 4
Hanamura: 3
Dorado: 3
Watchpoint: Gibraltar: 3
Numbani: 3
Lijang Tower: 2
Hollywood: 2
Nepal: 2
Volskaya Industries: 2
#13
1 Frags +

Atleast i will be tilted to watch Ilios 9x in the row

Atleast i will be tilted to watch Ilios 9x in the row
#14
0 Frags +

Boop

Boop
#15
2 Frags +

Pretty arrogant of MLG to go and make up this completely RNG carried system into a tournament when every tournament before it has had the traditional map picks and bans.

Pretty arrogant of MLG to go and make up this completely RNG carried system into a tournament when every tournament before it has had the traditional map picks and bans.
#16
0 Frags +

I really hope they make a statement about their thought process here. On some level I can understand trying out different tournament formats to see how things shake out, but the maps they picked... it's like they threw darts at a board.

I really hope they make a statement about their thought process here. On some level I can understand trying out different tournament formats to see how things shake out, but the maps they picked... it's like they threw darts at a board.
#17
0 Frags +
AceofsppadesI think the tally is off for some of them because anubis and route 66 are played in the exact same matches but have different counts. What I got when I tallied them was

Ilios: 9
Anubis: 5
route 66: 5
Eichenwalde: 4
King's row: 4
Hanamura: 3
Dorado: 3
Watchpoint: Gibraltar: 3
Numbani: 3
Lijang Tower: 2
Hollywood: 2
Nepal: 2
Volskaya Industries: 2

Yeah I have confirmed this and updated the article, thanks for raising the issue (and people on Reddit)

[quote=Aceofsppades]I think the tally is off for some of them because anubis and route 66 are played in the exact same matches but have different counts. What I got when I tallied them was

Ilios: 9
Anubis: 5
route 66: 5
Eichenwalde: 4
King's row: 4
Hanamura: 3
Dorado: 3
Watchpoint: Gibraltar: 3
Numbani: 3
Lijang Tower: 2
Hollywood: 2
Nepal: 2
Volskaya Industries: 2[/quote]

Yeah I have confirmed this and updated the article, thanks for raising the issue (and people on Reddit)
#18
0 Frags +
AdmirableI got no beef with HAL, if you discount the World Rankings and Picked Over it has been quite some time since there has been any editorial content on over.gg - he's absolutely right.

I'd like to point out that I have no issue with opinion pieces being here, I simply see it as custom to clearly state it as such when an outlet also mediates news in a more objective manner.
Thanks for the edit, My Autism Is Sated :)

Edit : also, nicely downvoted folks <3

[quote=Admirable]I got no beef with HAL, if you discount the World Rankings and Picked Over it has been quite some time since there has been any editorial content on over.gg - he's absolutely right.[/quote]

I'd like to point out that I have no issue with opinion pieces being here, I simply see it as custom to clearly state it as such when an outlet also mediates news in a more objective manner.
Thanks for the edit, My Autism Is Sated :)

Edit : also, nicely downvoted folks <3
#19
3 Frags +

It seems to be MLG's thing, as the COD tournament hosts a similar structure. So it may not be someone not understanding the norm but more like MLG being consistent with their events. The varied maps might be a way to showcase the game. This is MLG's first event with Overwatch, so alot of the viewers may be new to professional play. Granted, using maps like Ilios and not standards like King's Row and Hollywood may not be an accurate judge of that, but it's, for lack of a better term, baby steps.

It seems to be MLG's thing, as the COD tournament hosts a similar structure. So it may not be someone not understanding the norm but more like MLG being consistent with their events. The varied maps might be a way to showcase the game. This is MLG's first event with Overwatch, so alot of the viewers may be new to professional play. Granted, using maps like Ilios and not standards like King's Row and Hollywood may not be an accurate judge of that, but it's, for lack of a better term, baby steps.
#20
0 Frags +

Aaand they've revised the maps. Seriously, what is going on over there? The gamers ask for a draft, and instead they just rehash the exact same issue? Except now it's worse since the teams have less prep time. I guess they tried to adhere a little more closely to their guesses as to what the players want as opposed to which maps are prettiest, but at that point I don't see why they wouldn't just give the players input. I seriously doubt people watching competitive play are going to decide whether to buy the game based on how shiny the map is. It's not even like the other maps look that bad. Except for King's Row maybe? But they're now going to play KR 5 times, and even on the original plan they were gonna go for 4, so... what the fuck.

[url=https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/172876094616109057/256611482261782528/4f7091c4683ab5c16887ab135c0fabeb.png]Aaand they've revised the maps.[/url] Seriously, what is going on over there? The gamers ask for a draft, and instead they just rehash the exact same issue? Except now it's worse since the teams have less prep time. I guess they tried to adhere a little more closely to their guesses as to what the players want as opposed to which maps are prettiest, but at that point I don't see why they wouldn't just give the players input. I seriously doubt people watching competitive play are going to decide whether to buy the game based on how shiny the map is. It's not even like the other maps look [i]that[/i] bad. Except for King's Row maybe? But they're now going to play KR 5 times, and even on the original plan they were gonna go for 4, so... what the fuck.
#21
0 Frags +
FrozenJackalIt seems to be MLG's thing, as the COD tournament hosts a similar structure. So it may not be someone not understanding the norm but more like MLG being consistent with their events. The varied maps might be a way to showcase the game. This is MLG's first event with Overwatch, so alot of the viewers may be new to professional play. Granted, using maps like Ilios and not standards like King's Row and Hollywood may not be an accurate judge of that, but it's, for lack of a better term, baby steps.

they've held csgo tournaments with map drafts so they definitely understand how they work and that they work, honestly they should know better

[quote=FrozenJackal]It seems to be MLG's thing, as the COD tournament hosts a similar structure. So it may not be someone not understanding the norm but more like MLG being consistent with their events. The varied maps might be a way to showcase the game. This is MLG's first event with Overwatch, so alot of the viewers may be new to professional play. Granted, using maps like Ilios and not standards like King's Row and Hollywood may not be an accurate judge of that, but it's, for lack of a better term, baby steps.[/quote]
they've held csgo tournaments with map drafts so they definitely understand how they work and that they work, honestly they should know better
#22
3 Frags +

The only time preset maps seems valid is in the case of a league such as ESEA, which rotates through a map every week, and then a month or two later you select maps for the double elim playoffs based on what was used in the season.

The only time preset maps seems valid is in the case of a league such as ESEA, which rotates through a map every week, and then a month or two later you select maps for the double elim playoffs based on what was used in the season.
#23
0 Frags +
MorrisAaand they've revised the maps. Seriously, what is going on over there? The gamers ask for a draft, and instead they just rehash the exact same issue? Except now it's worse since the teams have less prep time. I guess they tried to adhere a little more closely to their guesses as to what the players want as opposed to which maps are prettiest, but at that point I don't see why they wouldn't just give the players input. I seriously doubt people watching competitive play are going to decide whether to buy the game based on how shiny the map is. It's not even like the other maps look that bad. Except for King's Row maybe? But they're now going to play KR 5 times, and even on the original plan they were gonna go for 4, so... what the fuck.

Damn if that's true it feels like whenever over.gg does an opinion piece about something it gets slightly changed immediately after. I remember when ESL wanted to do no hero limit sideshow did an article and it got changed around like 24 hours later.

[quote=Morris][url=https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/172876094616109057/256611482261782528/4f7091c4683ab5c16887ab135c0fabeb.png]Aaand they've revised the maps.[/url] Seriously, what is going on over there? The gamers ask for a draft, and instead they just rehash the exact same issue? Except now it's worse since the teams have less prep time. I guess they tried to adhere a little more closely to their guesses as to what the players want as opposed to which maps are prettiest, but at that point I don't see why they wouldn't just give the players input. I seriously doubt people watching competitive play are going to decide whether to buy the game based on how shiny the map is. It's not even like the other maps look [i]that[/i] bad. Except for King's Row maybe? But they're now going to play KR 5 times, and even on the original plan they were gonna go for 4, so... what the fuck.[/quote]


Damn if that's true it feels like whenever over.gg does an opinion piece about something it gets slightly changed immediately after. I remember when ESL wanted to do no hero limit sideshow did an article and it got changed around like 24 hours later.
#24
1 Frags +

Why do tournament organizers keep using their own systems instead of just doing a normal pick/ban that proved to be the best way by cs tournaments? I don't see anyone benefiting by 2 teams playing a map they don't like and don't play at all.

Why do tournament organizers keep using their own systems instead of just doing a normal pick/ban that proved to be the best way by cs tournaments? I don't see anyone benefiting by 2 teams playing a map they don't like and don't play at all.
#25
0 Frags +
Angry_rockWhy do tournament organizers keep using their own systems instead of just doing a normal pick/ban that proved to be the best way by cs tournaments? I don't see anyone benefiting by 2 teams playing a map they don't like and don't play at all.

Don't blame the organizers, over the last week it has become more clear that this is a format that Blizzard is forcing on the tournaments. They've been unfortunately silent in response to the public reactions against the system, but the same sort of predetermined maps have now been confirmed for MLG, Winter Premiere, and IEM at the very least.

On one hand, it is what it is and Blizzard has the right to do this per their licensing agreement with the tournaments. On the other hand, the way these announcements came at the 11th hour invalidating the practice prep that the teams did piles insult onto injury.

[quote=Angry_rock]Why do tournament organizers keep using their own systems instead of just doing a normal pick/ban that proved to be the best way by cs tournaments? I don't see anyone benefiting by 2 teams playing a map they don't like and don't play at all.[/quote]

Don't blame the organizers, over the last week it has become more clear that this is a format that Blizzard is forcing on the tournaments. They've been unfortunately silent in response to the public reactions against the system, but the same sort of predetermined maps have now been confirmed for MLG, Winter Premiere, and IEM at the very least.

On one hand, it is what it is and Blizzard has the right to do this per their licensing agreement with the tournaments. On the other hand, the way these announcements came at the 11th hour invalidating the practice prep that the teams did piles insult onto injury.
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