In the latest update, Valve rotated the competitive map pool. Instead of removing Mirage, which was very much expected, or carrying out another experiment with Vertigo, the dev team replaced Train. The CS.MONEY blog is here to look for the reasons behind this decision.
Reason one: low popularity
All competitive maps in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive can be divided into popular and not very popular. The first category includes Dust 2, Mirage, and Inferno — true classics. More than 70% of all games are played on them.
The second category is represented by Nuke, Train, Overpass, Vertigo, and Cache. However, we must note that even though the latter map isn’t played at Majors, it’s a true favorite for a small part of the game’s audience. In any event, these five maps host half as many matches as the three.
Replacing such “outsiders” is an obvious and easy decision. The community won’t respond to this with a hail of criticism. Even if the map is getting removed, it will only be occasionally remembered in posts along the lines of “600 days without Cobblestone,” not much more. So, nothing bad will happen.
Okay, we’ve dealt with the outsiders. But why Train, and not Nuke, for example?
Reason two: balance
Remember the stir around the open roof on Dust 2? Which was based on the assumption that if you can throw grenades from the tunnels to B Site, the map can go to the trash? We remember. The advent of this feature barely changed anything. Dust 2 is still a well-balanced map.
Just look at the statistics of major tournaments. Almost all maps have one side winning in 51-53% of rounds. That’s a small margin that enables you to say that Dust 2 is a bit better for defending. There are two exceptions to this rule that are noticeable almost all the time. They are Train and Vertigo.
On Train, defense is much stronger. It’s not a 3-5% difference we’re talking about — the gap amounts to 10% or more. Let’s cite the Major in Berlin by way of example, where the defense won more than 54% of the rounds. It doesn’t seem like that much, but it’s still the second-worst result. Only Vertigo has a worse balance!
On Nuke and Overpass, the balance is fine. Luckily, Nuke’s astounding scoring imbalance is a thing of the past now. A 4:11 score is no longer considered normal on that map. This also applies to Overpass: nothing’s wrong with the map’s balance and there’s no reason to change anything about it.
Reason three: new content
It’s common knowledge that 2020 was the best year ever for the Counter-Strike series. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive broke new online records, received an operation, and transferred to the online format without much trouble. Even the scandal surrounding the coach camera bug failed to compromise the pro scene.
Valve finally realized again that people are tired of seeing the same skins on the same maps with the same gameplay. To address this need, the devs brought us agents, stickers, skins, and maps — a genuine cornucopia of content. You only needed to buy that battle pass and farm stars.
The map set wanted rotation too. Fortunately, Valve had hundreds of great maps from the Steam Workshop and their own projects at their disposal. There was plenty to choose from. Eventually, the company replaced Train with Ancient. We’re not going to discuss how good the new map is right now. Our analyst who specializes in just that is already at work. The results of his research will appear in the blog in the coming days, so be sure to come back often not to miss it!
Instead, let’s try to predict the fate of Train. Forecasts are a rather thankless task, but judging from what happened to Cache and Cobblestone, we can safely assume the future holds nothing good for Train. There’s a chance the map won’t be back in the game for the foreseeable future. Maybe it will undergo another revision — or maybe it will simply be abandoned like an old toy.
So the Train has forever left the station?
Not quite. The map Train has one last chance to shine with what cool features it has and get imprinted in players’ memory. The thing is, Valve didn’t interfere with the RMR season — it will be finished with the current map pool. Which means your favorite team will probably still have time to play that map.
More importantly, Train has been removed from the competitive map set, unlike Aztec. The map will remain in the game, and you’ll still be able to play it with friends. Provided, of course, that you have friends who are fans of this map.
Finally, the skins associated with this map will also remain in the game. There’s an eponymous collection that contains 16 skins, with a couple of very vibrant and curios specimens among them. Some of the items are inspired by the map — like MAG-7 Popdog or P90 Freight. In a nutshell: Train just got moved to the backstage. The decision is sudden yet understandable.