February 3 marked a historic day in CS:GO eSports. Nearly 10 months after being taken out of active duty, Inferno was reinstated into the competitive map pool. It replaced Dust_2, a fan favorite and the most iconic map in Counter-Strike.
The competitive response to the change has been mostly positive, with many pros agreeing that the outdated Dust_2 was due for a checkup. But the big question on everyone’s minds was how Inferno would fare in a competitive setting. Since its removal from the active pool, Inferno has gotten a few new bells and whistles (with a few bells taken away) that could significantly affect pro play. Plus, the classic defusal map hadn’t been played in 9 months.
With that in mind, many CS:GO fans waited eagerly for the map’s first appearance at Dreamhack Las Vegas. Fortunately, Inferno was played 4 times during the event, giving fans their first taste of the new setting. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting takeaways from the map’s debut.
Apartments Aggression Has Tanked
One of the biggest changes to Inferno was the removal of bedroom. As a terrorist, bedroom was one of the most frustrating places on the map. Ts entering the apartments were forced to either waste valuable nades on the sneaky spot or risk a terrible trade. With this CT boon removed, aggression from the counter-terrorist side has dropped significantly. Most teams had a very passive hold on aps 90% of the time.
As teams get more experienced on the map, I expect this to change. The walls in apartments are extremely thin. Even with a rifle, one can do significant damage through the walls. With a crossfire setup in halls, this could be extremely dangerous for pushing terrorists. It won’t be easy for terrorists to counter either. Given the consistent low thickness of the walls, there are several wallbang spots to watch out for.
This is somewhat to be expected on a map as new as Inferno. Without much experience on it, most teams will shy away from aggression in favor of safer site holds. Even when teams did go for aggression, it often failed horribly. For example, one of the reasons Fnatic lost to Gambit so badly was their poor aggression. The Swedish squad were constantly caught pushed up without nades, leading to favorable trades for Gambit. As teams learn the proper set-ups for these kind of plays, they will become much more common and successful.
Updated Banana Remains a Frustrating Spot for Terrorists.
One of the most common criticisms of Inferno prior to its update was banana. Its claustrophobic columns and corners created a gauntlet that Ts couldn’t get through. The updated version was expected to improve this issue. Banana has been widened and opened, making it harder for CTs to survive B pushes.
Another change to aid Ts was the removal of the arches smoke. Originally, CTs were able to smoke banana all the way from arches, giving them up to 3 smokes to cut off a terrorist push. The removal of this had made B stalling more difficult for counter-terrorists.
However, these changes seem to have had little effect on the heavy CT advantage towards B. Against Gambit, North consistently shut down pushes using aggressive nades. The new sidewall provides counter-terrorists with a safe way to spam banana with nades. B rushes, expected to become more viable on ecos, were still shut down continually.
While banana will likely never be truly T-favored, it would be surprising not to see a better performance from Ts in the coming months. While the power of anti-push banana nades is still noticeable, they have become more dangerous. Without the comfort of a smoke from arches and a terrorist chokepoint, CTs are forced to become more aggressive and play out in the open.
This will also become less powerful with basic experience. Once teams start to learn optimal nade timings, they can coordinate pushes when the other side is least prepared. This should give the T side a better chance at the T side.
No Matter what, Inferno is staying CT-Sided
Prior to Las Vegas, there were whispers that Inferno would become an even map, or even a T-sided one. By reducing the number of nades required for terrorists to take important positions, Infernew could actually become an even map, similar to Dust_2 or Cache. With more flexibility for full executes, both sides could become extremely difficult to hold.
But if it’s first competitive appearance is anything to go off of, Inferno isn’t switching sides anytime soon. At Dreamhack, CTs won 7.25 rounds more than Ts per map. Both times that the terrorist side won a half, it was by significantly less than their CT. Even crazier, 86% of pistol rounds were won by CTs. Statistically, Inferno is clearly still CT-sided.
Even from a more qualitative point of view, it’s doubtful that Infernew will ever lean towards terrorists. There are so many chokepoints on the map that it’s difficult to ever see the T side with an advantage. It’s incredibly difficult for the terrorists to get an opening kill on such a tight map. Furthermore, spawn times are so favorable towards CTs that it’s difficult for terrorists to punish overzealousness. Several times over the course of the tournament, the CTs just trapped them in their own spawn because of the early access they get to nearly every entry point on the map.
While it’s unlikely that Inferno will have significantly different side percentages, the map can still change. Although it wasn’t changed to the extent of Nuke, Inferno still had a lot of surprisingly large tweaks. It will be interesting to see how teams adapt to the new map, and who will dominate the map in the coming months. It’s certainly possible that the best teams on old Inferno, such as SK and Fnatic, will return to their former glory, but with so many shake-ups since then, who knows what the future holds.