I updated the map pool and I'll try to explain why certain maps have been picked. We had 44 entries (probably more but I forgot to put them on the list) and It was extremely difficult to choose the final maps. We played about 220 matches on my streams so far and we'll have some more, but mostly we're gonna be focusing on the tournament maps now.
I'm also glad that I discovered incredible map makers, who were not necessarily known as mapmakers to me. Blackened and netnazgul sent in some of the most impressive maps I've ever seen.
So here's my list:
Face-off by Wippie not only looks cool but also showed some really good games already, the key for its success is the number of options it offers, ore vs. positioning advantage is balanced perfectly.
Race Tracks https://resource.openra.net/maps/25450/
Race Tracks by Blackened has surprised me as it is smallest map that entered my contest, yet Blackened managed to beat all the challenges small maps face. Race Tracks doesn't feel small at all, due to how open it is. The eco is good, all the ore fields are worth expanding to. The ore positions also give you the choice where you want to go with your MCV(s).
Baphomet by SoScared hasn't been one of my favorite maps before this contest started, but a couple of small changes made this map incredible fun and different to any other map. The gem mine on the other side of the bridge and a couple of interesting ore fields throw players into a different eco situation. We could also see a great game in the qualifier already. I love the design and it's also proof of SoScared being a cultist.
Shadowfiend II https://resource.openra.net/maps/23189/
Shadowfiend II by kazu. didn't need much testing on stream. It was one of the most played 1v1 maps during the RAGL season 4, eventhough it was not in the RAGL. It does all the things right, offers a lot of options, good eco, lots of action and more.
Badger Hills 1.9 https://resource.openra.net/maps/25579/
Badger Hills by eskimo might not strike you as very special at first but it has shown some awesome games on my stream already and the more I've seen it the more I liked it. Quick radars, quick mcvs, WF first, Double Ref etc., all of these, seem like good options on that map. Good rush distance, enough space to maneuver and nice choke points a hot areas make this a perfectly balanced map.
Blobomaly by kazu. first of all seems like a very solid, balanced map in good old kazu fashion. However, there are a couple of things that make it special in my opinion. The double mine naturals are pretty far away from your main base, but as the map is structures it just makes a lot of sense to go there. This usually makes games on that map wide and therefore creates opportunities for aggression. A hard to harvest gem mine definitely helps to keep the game very active. It's also one of the maps that gets away with 6 oil derricks as their positions are well thought through.
Ragnarok by JuiceBox offers something new, it's a big boy map with relatively low eco. The eco situation is always just enough to get the necessary units out. That usually makes player play more passively because you can't affort to lose units. Ragnarok's size, however, just favors aggression in general and that's why we've already seen very interesting matches on that map.
Teared Strait https://resource.openra.net/maps/25548/
Teared Strait by mo tries something new, and it works. The map plays very different from any other map. There's 4 starting ore mines, 2 back ore mines and massive middle patches with lots of ore mines to contest for as well. You don't really contest for income though, which can sometimes make games end rather quickly. You mostly contest for positioning and access to your opponents main base. The 6 ore mines close to the player spawns are extremely vulnerable what makes this map very dynamic. I guess there's also the possibility for some boat play, I mean it's a mo map after all.
River of Gold https://resource.openra.net/maps/25556/
River of Gold by netnazgul impressed everyone who watched it on my stream. The ore positions are unique but incredibly well done by netnazgul. The map can play out in various different ways and we've seen this map get split up top vs bottom, left vs right, bottom left vs top right etc. The eco is pretty rich in general and ALL of the ore mines are vulnerable. This translates into lots of aggression, dynamic game play and requires you to use your brain.
Hesperian Grove https://resource.openra.net/maps/25630/
Hesperian Grove by CRLF has been around for a while and it has quite some fans. The only problem I had with that map was the tree density in the center, which has been taken care of by CRLF.
The starting ore is very strange and unique, the naturals are worth expanding to and most of the ore mines are extremely vulnerable, which again leads to lots of aggresion which is usually very good for the game. HG's starting eco situation also allows for some different, cheesy or greedy strategies.
Stanitsa by Doomsday is another very small map but unlike Race Tracks it's not as open. The starting eco is good, the expansions are worth it. V2 and other aggresive tech rushes can be extremely powerful on this map, due to its size. However, for a small map the eco is very rich and therefore arty stalemates are less likely to happen, which is one of the major concerns for small maps in general.
The Great Divide https://resource.openra.net/maps/25675/
The Great Divide by SoScared is a true big boy map. The sheer size might scare a lot of players but this map got potential for excellent matches. Both players start with a double mine and a gem mine which allows you to pump out more units than usual or to get quicker tech than usual. In case of a split map both players will control 6 different ore fields, which obviously leaves lots of room for attacks. This is a map where multitasking, speed and your understanding of the game will be truely tested.
Trapped by Blackened is another masterpiece. The games I've played or watched on this map were extremely dynamic, this is no map if you want to sit around and do nothing. Blackened pushed the limits of how thin ore fields can be without being useless. He was very successful here and made this very balanced map with lots of options.
I also want to mention the following maps as they could have all made it into the map pool:
Snowflake, El Azahar, Containment_1.3, Sacrificial Circle, The Trench, Equilibrium, Pochinki Fields, Another Tomorrow.
Thanks to all the map makers who uploaded so many revisions the last 2 weeks.