Mirage is an institution in Counter-Strike. The map has seen the most playtime ever on the pro level and consistently has one of the lowest queue wait times in matchmaking. But it’s time to remove the map from the competitive map pool.
Now, let it be clear: I don’t hate Mirage. In fact, it is probably the map I’m most comfortable with. But the problem is that even with good things, too much is too much. Mirage has been in the game since the launch of CS: GO, and has been played on all the Majors. In the eight years that have gone by since the launch of the game, Valve hasn’t really changed the map. They have opened up the skyboxes, adjusted the lighting in certain places, and added a bench in mid. This has lead to Mirage turning into a stale map, with several pro-players and community figures expressing their dislike for the state of the map.
But what defines a stale map? Try to imagine how you usually play Mirage. As a terrorist, you can obviously rush one of the sites. But next to rushing B, there are not a lot of creative tactics on the map. You have the smoke execute on A, peeking mid and smoking window, thus dominating 70% of the map and doing a smoke execute on B. These ways of playing on the T-side are so iconic that even Silver players know how to do them. As a Counter-Terrorist, you have even fewer options to shake up the game. Going aggressive on the sites leads to too many unfavorable duels, and in mid you have just three angles you can peek from once you’ve lost control of it.
On a pro-level, the situation is even worse. While on most maps we see constant minor adjustments in the playstyle, Mirage has been figured out entirely. The last big innovation was Astralis’ spawn-to-mid smoke. This play from 2018 gave the CTs more options to be aggressive in mid. It has since then completely disappeared from the meta.
Mirage has proven its worth on all levels of Counter-Strike but has gone too long without any changes. If Valve were to consider a remake of one of the maps in the pool, Mirage should be on the top of their list. But if they were to change it, it is going to needed more adjustments than Cache or Dust II recently received.