Updated: Jan 6
Afternoon! In this blog post I'm covering Pro League, the map bans, how they work and the considerations.
Pro League for season X and XI are Best of 1's with no overtime. Meaning draws are indeed possible.
There are 7 maps in the map pool
In the 1st week, each team bans 3 maps each and play the deciding map. A banning phase looks something like this
Team A ban Border
Team B ban Kafe
Team A ban Villa
Team B ban Bank
Team A ban Coastline
Team B ban Consulate
Played map = Clubhouse
In subsequent weeks, the teams last played map plus their opponents last played map are both automatically banned, creating a 5 map pool. If the teams both played on the same map in the prior week, the admins remove one map randomly - this happened for all round 2 EU fixtures in Season X as all EU fixtures were played on Kafe in round 1.
Example subsequent banning phase,
Autobanned map - Bank [Team A played there previous round]
Autobanned map - Kafe [Team B played there previous round]
Team A ban Border
Team B ban Villa
Team A ban Clubhouse
Team B ban Consulate
Played map = Coastline
Home and Away
Each team, as part of the league plays all teams twice. This isn't randomly decided and is for the reason.
Much like football, or any other physical sport, the teams have Home and Away fixtures - what you might not realise is that this determines Ban and Side advantages of every fixture. Each time gets 1 game vs every opponent with Ban advantage, they also play 1 game vs every opponent without ban advantage.
Ban advantage is when you choose who bans the first map - the reason that ban advantage is crucial is that teams analyse each other and know roughly what eachother are going to ban - if a team wants to force though a particular map, they make their opponents ban first, forcing them to show their hand first.
If you choose to to take ban advantage - the forfeit for that is that you must give up side advantage. Side advantage is the ability to choose the starting side in that particular fixture. Given siege is defender sided, especially on certain maps, many teams enjoy taking side advantage to try and build an unassailable lead.
There are times, where teams will ban out maps to leave them open the following week to force their opponents to ban it.
This is probably easier worked through with an example:
Empire 100% ban Villa, in fact the last time they played it at any kind of decent level was DH Winter 2018.
In playday 10 of Season X EU PL - Vitality chose to ban out Villa and play Coastline (even though they didn't like Coast at the time and they loved Villa). What this meant that was it was 100% guaranteed to be in the map pool the next week and so Vitality knew one of Empires bans.
This didn't work out for Vitality as actually they got destroyed on Coastline by G2 and also lost to Empire.
There are also times where teams will do the opposite, and play a strong map of the opponent the week before in order to get it into the auto bans, again an example:
Vitality played (then) LSE on Coastline in round 3, even though again they didn't like Coastline too much. They played the odds that they'd likely lose to LSE and as Chaos loved Coastline, they'd get that autobanned for the round 4 fixture, improving their odds of winning.
Maps are often known beforehand
Banning phases are either wildly unpredictable, or known beforehand.
Most teams, though their own analysis and combinations of the above, can often identify 2 maps that they'll be playing on and therefore prep/practice those two.
Lets say you're playing Empire. (hypothetical scenario)
The map pool for this map is Border, Coastline, Kafe, Consulate and Villa
You know that Empire are going to remove Villa 100%
You also know that they're amazing at Border and Coastline, wobbly on Kafe and good on Consulate - your team yourself doesn't like Border and is okay on Coast.
Therefore you know your two bans will therefore be Border and Coastline.
This leaves Kafe/Consulate left over, but we know Empire have been wobbly as hell on Kafe this season so they're probably going to ban that - we therefore know we're playing Consulate.
How to check bans Liquipedia and more so Siege GG will post bans and operator bans etc etc. However are not always accurate and are usually after the event has finished. Here is the link to check directly on ESL Play as bans are done in comments.
A banning phase will all of the above
In summary, much more goes in to map bans than the average viewer probably realises. The production/casting staff don't get a long time to talk about map bans so often glance over the nuances of it, even though it is a very important part of Pro League.