CS:GO’s new Canals map is changing the game

Will Valve’s new Venice map upset the professional Counter-Strike meta?
Written by Mike Stubbs
Published on
A screenshot of the new Canals map in CS:GO
The new Canals map is set in Venice, Italy
Valve certainly aren't ones for giving us a bit of warning when they are about to drop a major update. With little more than blog post as the patch went live, Lord Gaben and his droogs decided to drop an entire new map into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive a few weeks back.
Canals is the first new Valve created map since Overpass, which launched way back in December 2013, and it has caused quite the stir in the CS:GO world. The map itself is set in what Valve refers to as an “Italian City”, however it is pretty clear to everyone that the Italian city it is based on is Venice, thanks to the canals and Renaissance architecture that bears more than a few similarities to the big landmarks of the city. As you might expect there is a central waterway that runs through the middle of the map, with the B bomb site situated on a walkway over it. Elsewhere, the A site is one of the most exposed in the game, with a ton of wide open space and one of the most overpowered windows we have ever seen in CS.
With a few weeks to play around in Canals, almost everyone has figured out their favourite ways of playing. Pro players have slowly drifted back to playing the active duty maps, while those of us who can only dream of playing on the main stage at a Major are still toiling away trying to perfect those AWP angles and smoke throws. While there is still a lot to learn about the map, there is already a lot that we can decipher after a few weeks. Let’s take a deep dive, if you’ll excuse the water pun.

The A site might need some work

Perhaps the area of the map that has caused the most arguments among CS players has been the A bomb site. Whereas almost every other site in CS:GO has a lot of cover, and multiple angles of attack, the A site of Canals is really quite open, with little to hide behind. The site is situated in a small doorway area that is raised from street level – there are small areas of cover inside the site, but you can still easily be hit with wall bangs.
This openness means that getting inside the site unnoticed is near impossible and while this sounds like an issue for the T side it can actually work in their favour. If they manage to get a pick off near A, and can make sure that the OP window that looks down on the site is clear, then they have an easy plant with no fear of being snuck up on, as one team-mate can easily see every entrance to the site.
At lower levels of play this area usually results in either a rush, or some long distance gun fights, neither of which are particularly interesting. So there may need to be some work to just how open this area is. Being able to sneak onto the site shouldn’t be easy, but it probably should be a viable strat.

B site is perfect for wall bangs

A screenshot of the B bomb site on Canals
The B site on Canals is perfect for wall bangs
The B bomb site is on a first floor walkway over the canal itself. The walkway has four windows and has very thin walls, meaning that wallbangs are certainly a possibility. Even in our own play, we’ve had success planting in the middle of B, and then running to the back of the canal, watching the walkway where the site is and taking a few pot shots through the walls whenever we see some movement. Providing they don't have a kit you should have ample time to take them out before they get the diffuse, and add another clip to the highlight reel.
The site itself is also quite enclosed, and providing you have a couple of players for support there’s no reason why you couldn’t hold off a group of five uncoordinated opponents. Issues start to arise when you aren't sure which side the opponents are coming from, but then that is the case for almost every site.

It feels very T favoured

One of the more common gripes from the community is how easy it can be for the T side to plant and go on to win a round. The B site seems to be one of the more controversial areas, with the T side being able to hit it at almost the same time as the CT side if they sprint there as fast as possible from spawn. Giving the CTs at least a few seconds to get into position and get set before the Ts arrive doesn't seem like too much to ask.
There are also issues with getting to the back of B for CTs. To get to there, or even to alley, they either have to cross the B site walkway, or cross over bridge. This means that they have to cross two areas that can easily be seen by a T with an AWP sitting between upper and lower bridge in the canal. This makes an AWP a vital purchase for any well funded T side who want to hit B, as an early cross map snipe can give a serious advantage for the rest of the round.

The pros could change all this

While a lot of the pros have been playing on the map, there have of course been no official matches on the new map yet, and that is when strategies could really change. We have seen that when the community first gets their hands on a map they come up with some good starts, but when the pros get some time on it against each other, that's when the map’s meta really starts to take shape. With this being a new map there will probably be some big changes before that happens, but when pro teams do start to face off on Canals you can expect them to find a lot of new issues and come up with new ideas.
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