Year in and year out, the IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) brings the joy of championship action to the last remaining strategy game in esports.  This article covers the seven newly released StarCraft II maps to see what new gameplay scenarios they bring to the table. So, if you consider yourself a hardcore SC2 fan, continue reading our comprehensive guide below!

What Are StarCraft II Maps?

Despite being an ancient game by today’s standards, StarCraft II is still regarded as the go-to real-time strategy game for esports fans worldwide. Moreover, the latest updates have paved the way for a new set of competitive maps that will become proper battlegrounds for both the gamers and the pros.

During the game, players battle against each other by choosing one of the four available factions, and of course, maps, where they will compete.

StarCraft II maps are nothing more than structures and layouts of the field that basically even the odds between opponents. In addition, custom maps are created by enthusiasts from many countries, most of them being from Korea. The map design itself creates obstacles for opponents and helps players use certain aspects of the map as an added layer of protection.

There are plenty of StarCraft II maps available on the market, but if you are into StarCraft betting, then you are probably only interested in the maps that are played in big tournaments and leagues. Worry not – we will touch base on this later on.

4 Key Factors for StarCraft II Map Analysis

StarCraft II maps contain many crucial aspects which can significantly impact a player's success. We listed four of the most important things to look out for below that can help you gain a strategic advantage – both as a player and a bettor.

  • Choke Point – The most important thing about choke points is whoever has control of them, as they will likely have greater chances of success in both defence and offence. A choke point, which can either be artificial or natural, is a place on the map where the terrain becomes more narrow, preventing possible surrounds.
  • Resources – This is as simple as it gets. There are three main resources in StarCraft maps: Vespene gas, supply, and minerals. Players need to utilise them to their full potential in order to get an edge over opponents.
  • Xel’Naga Tower – An indestructible neutral structure that grants vision, the Xel'Naga Tower has to be activated by one of the units. The usual placement of these towers is in important locations, allowing players controlling them a visual advantage.
  • Destructible Rocks – These are also neutral structures on the map; however, destructible rocks can be destroyed by any unit that can attack ground units. Once their health reaches zero, these rocks will crumble.

Current Active StarCraft II Map Pool

Starting February 8th, 2023, the upcoming IEM Katowice event is certain to provide tons of entertainment and thrills for StarCraft II fans. A whole year of fierce competition will finally reach its climax, and for 36 contenders, this is bound to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There’s $500,000 on the line, as well as the opportunity to lift the glorious IEM Katowice trophy.

Earlier in the year, on January 23rd, 2023, new ladder maps were added to the game to further spice things up for the fans. Today, we’ll be covering all seven new maps to give you an idea of what to expect during an upcoming SCII session.

With the addition of these new maps, the contenders will have just enough time to prepare and adapt to the new StarCraft II gameplay:

Altitude LEArctic Dream LEBlack Site 2EConcord LE
Ancient Cistern LEEmerald City LEBuried CavernsFortitude LE
Babylon LEFields of DeathCanyon of TribulationNekodrec LE
Dragon Scales LEHeavy Artillery LEFlashback LERooftop Terrace
Gresvan LENightscape LERealities Simulation LEShipwrecked LE
Neohumanity LEReclamation LESentinel LETropic Shores
Royal Blood LERhoskallian LEWhitewater Line LETuonela LE

7 New Ladder Maps: A Breakdown

In this section, we'll take a closer look at each of the seven maps released in January 2023, giving you a detailed description of what lies in store!

1. Altitude

Here, we're looking at an icy freestyle map that has a bit of a twist in its flavour. Altitude contains rich bases at the very centre; however, these are blocked by destructible Xel’Naga towers.

It’s a macro map that gives the competitors three difficult choices to make:

  • use the watch tower;
  • destroy the tower to gain access to the rich base or simply keep it from falling into the opponent’s hand;
  • long-distance mine the rich base at the risk of toppling the towers.

This map features 16 bases in total, 14 of which are standard. The last remaining two are rich, but are blocked by the above-mentioned Xel’Naga towers.

Destroying these towers will give access to the rich bases. However, players are also able to long-distance mine at that location by placing an expansion slightly further away. That said, keep in mind that the opponents can easily block this, at least partially.

2. Ancient Cistern

This lively and bright-looking map contains 16 potential bases usually set on higher grounds. Although there are a lot of collapsible rocks, they hardly do a good job of blocking enemy advances as they are easily manoeuvrable.

Players will find a lot of room for creativity in Ancient Cistern, prompting them to explore their options in both economic and military arrangements.

3. Babylon

We’re looking at a fairly small map here. Interestingly enough, Babylon is still considered a rushing map even though it features four cliff levels. But, on the other hand, it contains a linear third base that’s set on a relatively open low ground. Additionally, players can shorten their attacking distance by destroying rocks in between.

Even if all the rocks aren’t completely destroyed, there is still a possibility to conduct attacks from the high ground of the nearby base. All in all, there’s enough room for tactical manoeuvers overall.

4. Dragon Scales

Next up, we have Dragon Scales! This is a fairly standard map that has forward high-ground outposts, which in turn play a vital role in both defensive and attacking options. Coordinated attacks bear crucial importance, with linear third being open and fairly accessible. The triangle third is choked, but there is an option for partial blockade with collapsing rocks.

The standard map features of Dragon Scales are as follows:

  • Forward expansion on the main attack path
  • Bridges restricting movements in some parts of the map
  • Collapsible rocks near the triangle third base

5. Gresvan

Gresvan is a macro map that contains a total of 16 bases, designed around a centre high and low grounds that facilitate forward expansion. As the game progresses to its later stages, it becomes increasingly more difficult to coordinate defensive actions on the triangular third bases.

The main features of Gresvan are as follows:

  • Huge rocks at the ramp near the triangular bases are supposed to limit the location of the first attacks.
  • Forward base expansion to mineral line and low ground are crucial for gaining control of the low ground.
  • There are line-of-sight blockers at wide choke points on the high ground. The two lines are positioned in a way that gives players partial vision to the choke points.

6. NeoHumanity

NeoHumanity is a map with high-round objectives to expand and battle for control of the entire central portion of the map. You’ll have to tackle destructible rocks and towers on your way to dominate the area.

This map contains four conjoined towers at the centre, all sharing the same HP pool. Destroying one of the towers can greatly affect the gameplay as it lengthens the rush distance. By doing so, it also changes the shape of future rushes. Furthermore, Xel’Naga Towers provide the players with vision over the two remaining paths.

Towards the later stages of the match, the rocks will likely be destroyed and the time required to pass the map will be greatly reduced. This will open up the map’s centre a lot more, allowing for quick direct confrontations. Players who employ particularly creative and unorthodox strategies will certainly excel at this map.

7. Royal Blood

Although Royal Blood is relatively small, it’s labeled as a macro map as it provides lots of safety early on. It heavily restricts movements and allows players to use the early game for expansion, typically away from the primary attack path.

Since its bases are spread horizontally, as the match progresses, it will be increasingly more difficult to avoid direct confrontations.

Royal Blood’s main features are as follows:

  • Short rush distance
  • Restricted movements thanks to the rocky formations
  • Two buildings wall off the natural expansion
  • Aggressive options for expansion

Maps Removed From the Active SC2 Map Pool

With the introduction of new maps, as per usual, certain maps from previous years had to be removed from the competitive map pool. The now-removed maps were released 20th of July 2022, and were taken out of play on the 23rd of January 2023 when the new ones were released. However, it’s kind of sad to see them go as they were quite well-received by the SCII community.

Here are the maps no longer available:

  • Cosmic Sapphire LE
  • Data-C LE
  • Inside and Out LE
  • Moondance LE
  • Stargazers LE
  • Tropical Sacrifice LE
  • Waterfall LE

StarCraft Map History

Having been around for a very long time, StarCraft is considered to be the pillar of real-time strategy video games.

Although over 100 custom maps have been played at some point during the game's history, quite a few were neglected for an extended period of time. This is why updates and newly-built maps have always been more than welcome.

It is also important to mention that selected map pools and ladder maps vary across various events. For instance, GSL (Global StarCraft II League) maps differ from the ones used in the latest edition of IEM Katowice.

StarCraft II Mapsters

As already stated, StarCraft II custom maps are one of the best elements of this RTS esports title, with mapsters from all over the world working hard to provide players with equal and competitive maps that balance all of the factions.

In recent years, we have seen more and more individuals turn towards gatherings, causing mapmaking teams to emerge. Popular designers joined forces in order to provide gamers with the best StarCraft II custom maps out there, such as the below three teams:

If you're interested in creating custom maps or want to learn valuable information about the Starcraft II maps folder, simply head over to SC2Mapster.


In conclusion, StarCraft II maps play a crucial role as far as overall gaming experience is concerned. Providing a diverse range of challenges and opportunities, they keep the game fresh and exciting for players of all skill levels. Through a delicate balance of gameplay mechanics, balance, and aesthetics, mapmakers continue to innovate and push the boundaries of what's possible. With a vast community of passionate players and creators, the future looks bright, and we can't wait to see what exciting developments lie ahead!

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StarCraft II Maps FAQs

You have two options here. Firstly, you can download them manually and place them in your StarCraft II maps folder. The second and easier option is to simply join a game, and the map will be downloaded automatically.

Practice maps in StarCraft II are custom-made and designed to help players improve their gameplay and strategy. Thanks to their controlled environment, you can hone your skills without the added pressure of competing against others in a ranked match. Moreover, these practice maps come in different forms: macro-management or micro-management, allowing you to choose which abilities you’d like to work on and improve.

LE is short for Ladder Edition. Basically, LE maps are the ones that Blizzard worked on to improve, removing any bugs in the process so they were ready to be played in ladder matches.

Yes, StarCraft II is filled with custom maps. At the time of writing, there are over 100 maps built by the community and different modsters. However, not all of those maps are played often.

StarCraft is a relatively old RTS, and it seems like a lot of people have abandoned it for something else. However, both the Korean and European regions are still filled with fans and players, which can be seen in the number of followers of tournaments and leagues. All in all, we’d say that StarCraft still boasts quite an active scene.

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