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First, a note: Jungle Basin, Steppes of War, and Delta Quadrant have been removed from the map pool. Lost Temple, Xel'Naga Caverns, and Metalopolis have been modified to prevent blocking off the ramp with 3 pylons or two bunkers. GOM statisticians have done the math and determined that this change will increase the average lifespan of Zerg players by about five years due to decreased stress.
The most intriguing changes to the map pool, however, are the new maps. Let's take a look at the battlefields we'll be seeing next season!
The first thing on Crevasse that jumps out is the number of expansions. Look at all those beautiful minerals -- none of which have destructible rocks blocking them! Already I am getting excited at the prospect of a long, drawn out TvT on this map, with the battle being all about who can gain an advantageous position in the center. I think this map will really reward players who plan their play out, not just in TvT, but in any matchup where taking and holding space is possible (read: mainly TvX).
Note that the 4 middle expansions have a single gas and only 6 mineral patches, making them less desirable.
This map is large, but the center looks cramped due to the various cliffs, ramps, destructible rock walls, and impassible terrain. It really would not take very many tanks for a Terran to secure 3 1/2 expansions against a Zerg ground army (although I might be underestimating the size of the center… It's sort of difficult to get a sense of scale just from looking at pictures). On that note, Zergs really shouldn't be going heavy ground against Terran or Protoss on this map. Just thinking about battles between tanks or Colossi against roach/hydra in the middle of this map is making me cringe. A harass-oriented playstyle is the way to go here. Delaying the ability of the Terran or Protoss to control the middle will be important.
A final note that I think will become a theme on these new maps: Protoss players can easily take three bases here and turtle until they have a powerful Colossus-based death ball. We'll have to see how Zerg players deal with that. Initial reports from Korea seem to be that they're not currently handling it well, but that might change.
A map loosely based on the SC:BW map Peaks of Baekdu, Crossfire SE looks like a map where armies would get lost trying to find the enemy. With enough bridges and ramps to make Euler's head spin, this map seems like a place where it's important to know the location of the enemy's main force at all times, and to also know where that force can go and what it can easily attack. This map is so long that base trading situations might arise due to armies not being able to return to defend their main before it gets entirely leveled.
The two Xel'Naga towers here are more critical than they are on any other map in the pool, since they can see any route that a scout tries to take to the area past the tower. The space around the towers seems well-suited for tanks for this same reason. A single siege line can defend four expansions at once.
Muta and void ray harass on the mineral lines at the third base, the main, and the gold seems like it would be difficult; it looks like the sides of the map guard those two locations much like the baseline helps guard the hoop in basketball. Muta play in general seems strong here, though, because of the distance between expansions.
Much like Crevasse, thinking about Zerg engaging Protoss death balls in the slightly cramped center is making me cry. We'll have to see how Zergs play the map without being able to attack the Protoss army head on.
It occurs to me that Colossi will be very susceptible to VIking harass when they are in the middle of the map on those three bridges. We see a lot of that sort of harass on Xel'Naga Caverns around that large central pit and I think we'll be seeing it a lot more on this map from smart Terrans.
So many expos! So many free expos! Here, players have 2 1/2 expansions available to them, all defendable by a single choke. The center is more open than the first two maps we looked at, and sort of reminds me of Delta Quadrant, if Delta Quadrant had 4 Xel'Naga watchtowers.
There's not much to say about this map; it looks much more "Blizzard-y" than the other new maps, which is to be expected since it is in fact a modified Blizzard map. I don't expect to see much different play on this map than what we've seen in previous GSL seasons, except that bad one-dimensional players will do 2 1/2 base timing attacks every game instead of 2 base timing attacks.
This map is outrageously large. I mean, look at it. I think Steppes of War could fit into that boxed area in the middle. This map is large to the point of being confusing, but let's try to make sense of it.
Again, we have three bases that are easy to take and hold. We also have a pretty large, open center that will force players to be careful of flanks. Controlling the four Xel'Naga towers will be useful in late-game situations for this reason.
I would imagine that someone like MarineKing would never ever lose a game on his map, since his style seems to fit it perfectly. An endless supply of minerals, and an enormous map on which he can exploit his mobility to its fullest.
Other than this map's largeness, there don't seem to be that many distinguishing features to it.