The new map, Pearl, makes its debut in July. Here’s what we know so far.

For competitive balance reasons, Riot has decided to keep with the seven map pool and chose Split as the odd map out. With Pearl dropping in patch 5.0, Riot had to make the tough choice on which Valorant map needed to go and Split, with all the tweaks made to it over the years, was that map.

In a developer stream from Riot, lead map designer Joe Lansford spoke on why they ultimately decided to remove Split: “As for Split, this is something we worked on with John in competitive. We worked with our esports teams and talked with lots of different organizations. We looked at a lot of different things, like, what the map is delivering on, gameplay wise, and how’s the experience? How does it fit into our pool as a whole?”

“What does player sentiment look like? How long has it been in the pool? A bunch of different factors like that and when we looked at that stuff together and talked to all these different groups. Split is the map that made the most sense at this time. It’s not going to be gone forever. If you love Split, it will still be around in our modes, in custom games. It’s not being removed It’s being rotated out.”

Too many maps to learn can feel overwhelming and doesn’t give some of you the opportunity to really go deep on any one of them.”

Joe Lansford

Riot keeping with seven maps

There are seven maps in the Valorant Map pool. Valorant Pearl is one of the new maps to join the fray.
The Valorant map pool comprises seven maps.

The main takeaway is that Riot is only rotating Split out of the pool, but could return in the future. With Riot doing their due diligence and talking to esports organizations, the “old-school” map made the most sense, but time will tell how this affects the player base, rather than just the competitive side of the game.

Why seven? Simply for map picks and bans. Seven is the ideal number for maps, giving each team two bans and one pick. Adding an eighth map would cause issues, so Riot made the sweeping change of removing the map completely. It aligns with the Counter-Strike model and keeps the pool relatively small so teams can master them.

“Learning a new map can be one of the toughest parts of a tac(tical) shooter. Going from ‘learned’ to ‘mastered’ is even harder. Doing that on a whole bunch of maps is a steep learning curve. Not to mention all the combinations of agents and utility. It’s a lot! Simply put, too many maps to learn can feel overwhelming and doesn’t give some of you the opportunity to really go deep on any one of them.”

Joe Lansford discussed the change in a press release

The Valorant map pool: Why remove Split?

It’s impossible to gauge public sentiment especially in a situation where the opinions widely differ. In my tight circle, Breeze and Bind have always been the maps people sigh when they see pop up.

Factors like map longevity and professional player input were taken into consideration, showing Riot doing their research. The answers of why Split specifically are more general in nature from Riot, but as one of the least played and most banned maps in VCT, it’s not the least bit surprising. 

Furthermore, Split is well regarded among esport VALORANT fans. The map that has provided some of the best VCT matches in the history of the game. No one will forget the marathon between South Korea’s DRX and the world champions OpTic or just recently, Fnatic over M3C. It’s a map with a strong history and a new map will have to take its place as the ultimate decider.

Nonetheless, Split will no longer be a part of competitive and unrated play on June 22nd. However, Pearl won’t make its debut until July 12 in patch 5.01, meaning the Valorant map pool will remain at six until then. For the VCT, Split will remain in the Valorant map pool until after Last Chance Qualifiers in August. This will give teams ample opportunity to learn the new map.

Stay tuned to esports.gg for the latest Valorant news and updates.

Blake Van Poucke -

Blake Van Poucke

| Twitter: @TokyoDown

Blake Van Poucke is a Valorant writer at esports.gg. He found esports through the early days of MLG and the Super Smash Bros Melee scene. He's been competing and writing about esports dating back to 2008. He has written for several publications and wishes to return to in-person esports events in 2022