Riot is throwing VALORANT’s newest map, Breeze, straight into the mix at VCT Masters Reykjavík from May 24 to 30—a decision that has the potential to change the course of the game’s first major LAN event.
The 10 teams involved in the tournament, which will be determined in the days and weeks ahead, will have just three weeks to practice the tropical map before they go head to head in Iceland.
The developers are bumping the game’s map pool up to six and introducing a new veto and selection process for the event, Riot revealed on April 23. This will force teams to either practice Breeze to its full extent—which is frankly impossible with such short notice—or outright ban it at every opportunity.
The map has been designed to bring something new to the table, combining larger and more open spaces with longer sightlines than any other map in the game, according to senior game designer Sal Garozzo. This gives an opportunity for different weapons and agents to shine.
From a competitive standpoint, the map is surely a welcome addition to the game and one that players will almost certainly relish in the future. But for the integrity of VCT Masters Reykjavík, Breeze has come much too soon.
In League of Legends, Riot’s leading esports game, the developers are careful not to disturb the meta close to a major event like the Mid-Season Invitational or Worlds. They make sure to save large updates for the middle of the season where changes won’t have an immediate impact on the results of a game. Viego, one of League’s latest champions, has been disabled for MSI 2021, for example, and won’t make his debut in pro play until the summer season in June.
Breeze might be a strong addition to the VALORANT map pool, but it’s difficult to say at this early stage. Like Viego, it could easily be full of game-breaking bugs and glitches. Or, like maps before it, there may be an unfair attacker or defender-side advantage.
A new map needs time before it can be certain if it’s fit for competition, which history has proved time and time again.
CS:GO’s Cobblestone was reintroduced to the game’s map rotation after a rework in 2013 and made its competitive debut the next year at ESL One: Cologne 2014 to the dismay of teams and players at the event.
The unpopular and widely thought to be unbalanced map ended up being played six times, including in the grand finals. The same happened when Cache was removed from the map pool and Vertigo was added in 2019. The dynamic of a new and unfinished map didn’t go down well with the CS:GO community. The map has since been updated numerous times but remains largely unpopular.
A map veto and selection process at VCT Masters Reykjavík could counter the problems that players may face with Breeze at the event. But if the map somehow slips through and ends up being played, everyone involved, including the teams, players, and viewers, are worse off for it.
An even playing field, featuring 10 of the best VALORANT teams in the world, is threatened by Breeze. For the sake of the tournament, the developers are better off disabling it.
Breeze hits the live servers on Tuesday, April 27.
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