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Watching StarCraft: Brood War leagues like ASL or KSL, I see that in the information panel of each player there are maps that under the category "BAN".

What does this this 'ban' mean, exactly?

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It's a map ban process.

This occurs in many games. I'm not aware on the specifics of Starcraft; but if it works like other competitive games, it is part of the map choosing process.

In the map choosing process, there is generally a ban phase, followed by a picking phase. First, both sides will choose maps that they do not want to play. Then, after that, they will begin to pick the maps being played from the remaining pool.

In general, this should lead to closer competition. By each eliminating a number of maps, the players can eliminate maps which they believe they are most likely to lose. With both sides doing this, it helps to ensure that the maps being played are the maps that both players feel they have the best likelyhood of succeeding on (which should work out to the closest possible matches if both players pick properly).

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    Because this answer isn't Starcraft specific, I'll add a Starcraft note here: certain races are good/bad on certain maps. Depending on strategy, players will ban maps that don't help their race, or force their opponents not play on their good maps. For example, if a map has an island expansion, it's much easier for Terran to expand there, so zerg/protoss players will want to ban that map.
    – FoxMcCloud
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:45
  • @Fox I understand that each race can have some disadvantages on specific maps, but for same race game, why maps still be banned?
    – Ooker
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 5:52
  • @Ooker If it's a mirror matchup (Zerg VS Zerg for example), it comes down to player preference. Pro players have certain builds they are more comfortable with - certain players are more aggressive and want smaller maps, for example - so they ban the larger, more macro focused maps. Since the map pool is often so large, this allows players to cater tournaments to their liking, which makes everyone happy.
    – FoxMcCloud
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 7:24
  • @Fox but there is a difference between reducing the disadvantage and adding more advantage. The former makes the game more fair, the latter makes it more... unfair?
    – Ooker
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 8:29
  • @Ooker I don't think it's that big of a difference that makes the game "unfair", the game is pretty balanced that the maps don't make the games thay unbalanced
    – FoxMcCloud
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 13:57

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