StarCraft II 2014 Ladder Season 1 offers an updated map pool and a change of identity

StarCraft II gets new maps for its new season.

Find yourself spoilt for choice in New Year’s resolutions? Sometimes it can be easier to start again in a new town with a new handle. As of today, you’ll be able to change your StarCraft II character name for free, shedding your old reputation like you won’t last year’s weight.

12:01am PST this afternoon brings more than that, though: an updated map pool featuring five new competitive battlegrounds. Which, of course, means five old favourites must be taken away.

The new maps have already been bobbing about the custom games list for the best part of the week, where you can try them out ahead of the season’s start. After that, they’ll appear in matchmaking queues for competitive play.

Blizzard are looking to align 1v1 ladder play more closely with the WCS pool, and have therefore removed three maps from rotation – Bel’Shir Vestige LE, Star Station TE and Derelict Watcher. In their places are Daedalus Point, Habitation Station LE and Heavy Rain LE (no relation).

Similarly, two maps have been removed from the 2v2 map pool – Reflection and The Bone Trench – to make way for Avalanche and Crooked Maw. Avalanche features two safe spots which allow for easy expansion and defence, and Blizzard expect to see “more buildup and macro” as a result.

“We expect lots of mid to late game play on Avalanche and feel it will be fairly straight forward to work together with your ally on this map,” they write.

Crooked Maw, meanwhile, offers destructible rocks to shield mid-map expansion and an unusually close rush distance between mains. The product of that will be plenty of early game action – but the narrow width of the map’s main base ramp should allow for defensive playstyles too.

“We’re hoping to encourage early aggression and fast gameplay experiences but not necessarily short matches,” say the dev team.

Blizzard have confirmed they’ll continue to rotate three or four maps out of the 1v1 pool for every season in 2014. Despite mixed feedback, they’ve put their faith in map diversity to keep the game fresh in tournaments – “so we’ll be pushing this area pretty hard”.

The StarCraft dev team tend to put their pro players first – and that tactic’s brought them this far. But perhaps you’d rather risk the map pool going stagnant than lose your favourites?