Last night Blizzard released some information about the new maps that will be included in Season 5 of the StarCraft II Ladder. According to Blizzard, Season 4 was an experiment “with prioritizing tournament-style maps on the StarCraft II ladder. This has been working out very well not only because it’s allowed pro players better opportunities to practice on the ladder, but also because players across all skill levels can now experience the tournament feel when playing on Battle.net.” Based on these results, Blizzard is removing two maps that aren’t exactly “tournament-viable.” The maps being removed are Abyssal Caverns and Nerazim Crypt.
In place of these two maps, Blizzard will be adding one two player map and one four player map. Arid Plateau is a two player map that features a rush distance comparable to Shakuras Plateau. One thing that’s interesting about this map is how open it is. Expect to see a lot of Hellion and Speedling runbys on Arid Plateau.
The second map being added is called Entombed Valley. This map was designed to be almost perfectly symmetric. Apparently Blizzard received some feedback about how “rotationally symmetric” maps often provided an advantage to one player over another just based on positioning.
According to Blizzard:
Our goal with this map was to address that issue. Whether you start horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, the game should be almost completely symmetric for both players. Also, no matter where you start, we were focused on minimizing features which tend to favor a specific race such as certain races experiencing challenges expanding beyond two bases, air-to-air distances which are too short between starting locations, the center path being the only viable attack route, or too many choke points.
Over all I’d say these maps are a welcome addition. Abyssal Caverns and Nerazim Crypt were, by far, two of the least popular maps on the Ladder. Hopefully Arid Plateau and Entombed Valley make for some good games. We’ll have to wait and see if any major tournaments choose to use them in 2012.