Why we need a map draft in professional Overwatch
I’m publishing this on my personal blog rather than my own publication because this is meant to be just a stream of my thoughts rather than an actual piece that I put effort into.
More and more, Blizzard is actively pushing for their own map selection process — calling it a “selection” process is a bit of a stretch, though. Essentially, tournaments are becoming map showcases rather than displays of actual skill. BlizzCon was an egregious example, but of course the tournament was more of an exhibition than a real tournament, so Blizzard gets a free pass here. Still, watching Anubis and Eichenwalde 18 times each was rather irritating.
The competitive community has shown an affinity for hybrid and payload maps, with KotH having a place as well. 2CP maps are essentially taboo, and are rather inconsistent in that we usually see more upsets and strange results on Anubis, Volskaya, and Hanamura.
Ignoring the community’s preferences and forcing maps like Ilios, Anubis, and Hanamura (the 3 most common maps to be played at MLG) is rather odd. You’re getting worse quality matches out of the tournament because teams do not practice these maps often, or even at all in some cases.
Actively choosing to pick maps that are KNOWN to be disliked leads itself to speculating as to whether or not Blizzard has an ulterior motive. It feels like all Overwatch esports events are essentially a showcase for the competitive side of Overwatch until the Overwatch League starts up. It looks like Blizzard actively wants to tell the community that all maps are created equally, or that all maps are good competitively. It seems like Blizzard wants their game to be as close to the ranked system as possible — perhaps to give the sense that anybody can become a pro, or that the pro scene is not that different than the game you play at home.
Map drafting is a SKILL. Removing map drafts arbitrarily gives specific teams advantages — imagine removing Route 66 in a tournament that Lunatic-Hai attends, or taking Numbani out of EnVyUs’s pool. You’re neutering two teams who should be rewarded for being incredibly proficient on these two maps. Allowing for a map draft at least rewards these teams by either forcing a ban or giving them their preferred maps.
Tournaments should not run on a set map basis and remove a fundamental skill in the game, and it’s up to the community to make sure that Blizzard and event organizers get the message.
If you want to hear me rant more, I posted a YouTube video about proposed fixes to Blizzard’s map pool system.