With Act 4 of VALORANT coming to a close, Riot released their Act 5 patch notes to give readers an idea of what new things they can expect when it launches. Included in this major update is the latest addition to VALORANT’s ever-expanding map pool, Pearl. Set to be the eighth map alongside fan favorites Haven; Split; Icebox; Breeze; Ascent; Bind; and Fracture; Pearl takes place in an underwater villa surrounded by a giant glass dome.
It features two bomb sites, an open mid-region, and long corridors similar to C Long on Haven. While a new map is quite exciting, there is also some bad news regarding the current map pool.
Following the introduction of Fracture, the VALORANT map development team felt that seven maps was a healthy balance for the game’s competitive scene. In a separate post attached to the Act 5 patch notes discussing the state of maps, the design lead on VALORANT’s Maps team, Joe Lansford, states that the team was “really excited to get to seven maps because it meant tournament best-of-5’s could have two map bans without any repeat picks.”
He went on to explain that the addition of Pearl would alter this equilibrium they had become accustomed to and likely ostracize one of the less favored maps his team had spent so long developing.
Lansford continued to explain that, after discussing the status of the map pool with the VALORANT esports division and surveying professional players and their respective organizations, the all wanted to maintain the seven map pool system. The Maps development team feels that “seven [maps] is a nice sweet spot that offers both variety and mastery” while simultaneously providing new players with “an easier onboarding experience” and allowing pro teams “to have deeper, more exciting playbook[s].”
Bye Bye Split!
With this seven-map system in place, Lansford’s team decided that the best approach would be to cycle out one of the current maps. After assessing a variety of factors, including “player sentiment, time since release, past and future planned updates, what the map brings in terms of strategic variance, as well as where Pearl fits into all of it,” and inputting them into an algorithm to determine the best map to be replaced, the result came out as Split.
As one of the original three maps included in the beta and release, it’s unsurprising to see the rather bland map leaving the scene. Where its release counterparts had their own unique features (Haven’s three sites and Bind’s teleporter system), Split had nothing special to offer. This mundanity, combined with a series of rather unsuccessful design changes across the four acts it has been available for, made Split the easiest and most logical choice.
Starting on Wednesday, June 22nd, when Act 5 “Dimension” launches, Split will no longer be a part of the competitive or unrated playlists. For the Split lover’s out there worried they might never be able to play their favorite map ever again, Lansford made sure to mention that Split will still be available in customs and alternate game modes; however, it will not be a part of the traditional VALORANT first-to-thirteen game mode. Split will also depart from the professional map pool starting after August’s Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQs).
While it is sad to see one of the original maps depart from the base game mode, Lansford ended the post by saying that the Maps team was confident Split “will be back sometime in the future” potentially with “some tweaks.” However, he did not elaborate any further, indicating that it might be a while before it returns. With the uncertainty of Split’s return hanging in the air, be sure to play as many rounds as you can in its unique urban market landscape before it departs in less than a week. Until then, good luck in your matches agents!