The Thorin Treatment: Who dust2 Helps and Hurts
With the iconic de_dust2 set to return with its graphical rehaul and slight architectural tweaks, the competitive CS:GO landscape will experience a shift as the various map pools of the teams we see at the big offline tournaments are helped, hurt or simply altered by the arrival of the map and the inevitable removal of another to make room for it.
Teams dust2 helps
SK Gaming were legitimately good on the previous version, despite discovering that around half-way through their run with fnx, between the two majors. Thanks to being destroyed 16:0 on it by FNATIC, who was en route to winning their first of six straight offline events, the Brazilians, who had picked up TACO and fnx days earlier, decided the map wasn't for them. After winning the major, they opted to give dust2 another go, to allow them to get rid of cache, which had been their downfall against TyLoo in that infamous group stage upset a week after MLG Columbus.
With dust2 in their pool, SK were able to establish a solid record on it and thus expand their pool, especially useful when nuke arrived and they quickly decided again that it would not be a map they planned to play. inferno had been a good map for FalleN and company, so getting one of dust2 and cache was imperative to having strong chances against any team in a Bo3 series.
SK with boltz would almost certainly find success on the new dust2. While they are not as skill-heavy a squad as they had been with felps, a line-up which would seemingly have thrived on this map, as they did on cache; SK's aggression courtesy of fer and their great post-plant play positions them to be a strong contender for best dust2 team when the map returns.
FaZe are one of the most highly skilled teams in the history of Counter-Strike - winning that award hands down if we could somehow transport all of their players back to their prime, alas but a dream for now - and so dust2 would be a welcome fourth map for their pool, at least in theory. Then again, the multi-national powerhouse has not been able to find comfort on cache, the other map touted as the skill-based death-match-esque map in the pool. While karrigan's men have been able to win on cache, they have shown no real aptitude for the T side of it.
Nonetheless, with a map pool which suffers as soon as the likes of cbble, train and cache are emphasised, FaZe will be looking forward to playing more A-B-C Counter-Strike on dust2 and potentially improving their chances against all levels of opponent in Bo3 play.
Astralis are one of history's greatest tactical teams and dust2 has not historically been kind to such teams, in as much as they are much more wide open to upsets and a few individual outbursts costing them what would be grind-out wins on other maps. With that said, an under-rated quality of the map and its architecture is that it has also typically rewarded teams with good team-play and co-ordination, since it relies upon seemingly simple executes and benefits from fast adaptations mid-round.
A team like Astralis is able to execute more fluidly than others and on this map in particular were apt to quickly switch-up their call mid-round as gla1ve made a read around the double doors at the middle. Hence, dust2 is the forgotten strength in Astralis' map pool which was taken from then by the arrival of the new inferno, which began to spell the spiral down of the Danes after their initial month or two of showing strength on the replacement. This Astralis line-up had won four of their five games on dust2, with the sole loss being an epic over-time defeat at the hands of the SK line-up with fox standing in at the ELEAGUE major.
G2 have one of the best map pools in the game, especially thanks to the revelation that they can play mirage now, albeit with apEX calling instead of shox, but the French teams throughout CS:GO history have always had an affinity for dust2 and with a star AWPer like kennyS it will always be one close to their hearts. For such a streaky team as shox and company have been, getting a map which allows their power AWPer to go to work even moreso and their force-buys to get close range fights will be welcomed.
Two obvious teams who should benefit from dust2 finding a place in the map pool again are Cloud9 and mousesports. Both squads show-case a similar run-down of players, emphasising individual skill and a variety of hybrid AWPers. dust2 will be the stage upon which these squads can both score potential upsets from the better teams and add another comfort map to their pool.
Teams dust2 hurts
Virtus.pro have disliked dust2 ever since the seven map pool arrived as the standard in CS:GO. Prior to that they would often ban nuke, but eventually that old version of nuke was removed and VP could switch their perma-ban to dust2, a map which was always difficult for them. Over the two years of 2015 and 2016, VP only played dust2 a combined 14 times offline, going 9:5 but with a number of those wins being against significantly worse teams than them.
For whatever reason, dust2 was the problem child of the Poles and so when it was removed, earlier this year, many expected NEO and company, who were already one of the top ranked teams in the world and had narrowly missed out on winning the major, to dominate in a world in which they theoretically could play all seven maps to a reasonable degree of competency. As it happened, they would win Dreamhack Vegas, the first event to feature no dust2, and then spiral down into the worst form of their careers for much of 2017.
The wounded and still sluggish VP who we see before us now already struggle to show-case map pool depth, with even classics like cbble and mirage deserting them at times and only nuke remaining loyal, that the dual factor of dust2 returning and the likelihood one of those maps could exit the pool makes VP a team wincing at the prospect of playing 2018's map pool.
North, in its many variations of line-up back as Dignitas, only played dust2 20 times offline and found the map a troublesome prospect. Even when they could get wins on it against top teams, they would fall right back in form and lose out to lesser squads. MSL made it their perma-ban for most of 2015 and 2016, except when they wanted to avoid strong inferno teams.
The map leaving the pool in 2017 should have made North an even stronger squad, but they had already shifted to banning train and cache, alternating depending on opponent, and obviously the under-performance in big games meant more wins were not coming their way regardless of the map pool, which has always been wide since k0nfig and magisk's break-out in 2016.
What is subtracted to allow for this addition?
Obviously nobody yet knows which map will make way for dust2 and potentially go into the shop to get its own face-lift, so a future article will speculate upon which maps may be leaving us and how those would impact the map pools of the top teams.