What goes into the decision about which maps to use in the pro SC2 tournaments?

I'm organising a friendly tournament and want to make sure that the maps are chosen fairly.


4 Answers 4


So in a small scale tournament, one of the large considerations is what maps people can practice on.

While anyone can practice on any map (unless they have Starter Edition), most people lack a large stable of practice partners. As a result they are often restricted on what maps they'll be able to get decent amounts of practice. If you look at the After Hours Gaming League you'll notice that Day9 specifically chose Blizzard ladder maps for his tournament. This was because many of the players (despite being Masters level) had difficulty organizing their teams for long practice sessions. As a result many of the practice sessions would have to be alone and there for on the Blizzard ladder.

While an argument was originally made for GSL/MLG/TSL maps because you could organize a random custom game on them (part of Battle Net match making), the quality of the players you were matched against could not be guaranteed. Un-like the iCCup of the Broodwar era, where the player base was more organized and you could guarantee the skill level of your opponents, the popularity of the Blizzard ladder leaves it the only real option for people who don't have a good organized practice team.

I think this is an important concern for any tournament organizer looking to start up a friendly tournament.

  • @Fritz Meissner Notice, however, that even the used ladder maps are usually modified because of certain imbalances on the map. For example, usually close-positions by ground are usually disabled (for example on Metalopolis, Shattered Temple, etc.). So if you want to have a fun tournament with zero frustration factor, you might want to use the MLG or GSL versions of the maps.
    – heishe
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 14:08
  • For reference Day9 insisted on specifically the ladder maps (thus close positions Metalopolis was a possibility). Though we still used the maps which mask build orders
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 16:02
  • We should also note that each player is normally given two "down votes". That is, the pool is around 7 maps, and each player is allowed to reject two. This leaves 3 maps which are then picked by the judges. Some players (Idra, we're looking at you), feel that certain maps are insanely anti-zerg, this "down vote" ability allows them to remove some maps they consider unfair. Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 20:05

There is a balance between maps that are balanced and fun to play/watch. The best way to produce a balanced map would be a perfect symmetrical map with few elements in there, but that wouldn't be fun to play (and even if you go the symmetrical route, there are still things to consider. For example, tight chokes with a ramp tend to favour terrans).

Then you have to consider how overplayed is a map. After some time, builds then to stabilize for most maps and it can lead to repetitive games.

However, for a friendly tournament I would not give too much thought to this. I'll go with the map pool used for the 1v1 ladder, which has the advantage that is probably well known to more casual players. Then it depends on how you want to structure it (like say, fixed maps for group play, and then for the elimination round the first map is fixed and then the loser chooses). You should probably consult with some of your players if you can.

  • Also, I think that (some) organizers to tend to diverse between Zerg / Terran / Protoss / Macro / Micro Favoring maps.
    – j0ker5
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 12:19
  • Most of the tournament maps are fairly symmetrical. Either along X,Y Axis or Radially.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 13:34
  • Every map that's used currently in any major league is essentially symmetrical. Very few are well balanced.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 13:34

I would suggest looking at the TLPD here: http://www.teamliquid.net/tlpd/sc2-international/maps and choosing maps which are relatively well balanced across all matchups and have been played recently (within the last week or two).

Many tournaments have essentially their own pool of mapmakers as a team to design future maps. iCCup and GSL are the two major ones, and then of course Blizzard. MLG tends to just take other versions and make small tweaks, they haven't made any themselves that I'm aware of.

I personally would choose a varied pool of about 7-8 maps, picking mostly those that are shared across leagues or in the ladder, so your players are likely familiar with them. If you know most of the people involved, you should also know what leagues they watch, if any, and that should influence your decision. Allow each player to thumb a single map down for each set, and go from there.

Also, I'll point you to http://challonge.com/ as an excellent way to organize your tournament.


You will want maps that are available to anyone (either in Custom Games or on the ladder) and are balanced and do not contain exploits / bugs or any kind of massive advantage to another player purely because of the race they are playing. Maps along the lines of Xel Naga, Shattered Temple, Metalopolis will be fine as they are generally balanced for the majority of games. Maybe eliminate close positions to further support balanced and 'macro' games.

Maps which should be kept clear of are maps such as Delta Quadrant, Backwater Gulch or maps similar to these in my opinion.

  • Can you explain a bit what advantages you think Delta Quadrant and Backwater Gulch provide that make the maps unbalanced? I never really thought much about map balance so I'm curious to hear what the problem with them is.
    – Mana
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 16:15
  • 2
    Well maps like delta quadrant. For a Zerg player it is horrible as the natural has rocks in the way or you can get the patch right in front of your base. The ramp is tiny so Protoss and terrans players can macro up on 2 base without much hassle whereas zerg cant. The mineral patch's at the front of the base are so open and the rush distances are very close. It's all race specific and im very much on the zerg side (as i play as zerg) but there are maps I dont go near as a zerg player.
    – Sam Ford
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 16:17

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