Riot Games dealt a severe blow to the fandom's emotions when they removed one of the iconic maps, Split, from Valorant with Pearl's introduction. Despite hinting at Split's return to the rotation in the future, the developers couldn't satiate fan demands, and the rally continues even today.
Riot Games provided a valid reason behind the map's removal. They wanted to restrict the pool size to seven to make the learning curve easier for new players. However, veteran players weren't happy with the decision to remove Split when other maps were immensely disliked.
Split was one of Valorant's fan-favorite maps. Sadly, the developers haven't yet given the slightest hint about Split's fate since it was removed.
Exploring Split's possible return window to Valorant
Split was made available during the public beta testing of Valorant alongside two other maps, Haven and Bind. It's based on the real-world location of Shinjuku, Tokyo (Kantō region) in Japan. It is situated on Alpha Earth, as Valorant's lore proclaims.
Taking a guess based on instincts, Split may return next year (2023) with Episode 6. The developers, however, are expected to stay true to the 7-map rotation pool rule. Hence, if Split returns, another map will exit the pool. Episode 6 will kick in once the ongoing Episode 5 Act 3 ends, which is expected to happen in late December.
Valorant has also been teasing a new map based in India through in-game Easter eggs. After Harbor's addition, an Indian map could be a great new feature to try. Split's fate appears bleak if a new map is indeed on the charts.
In the trailer for the Ion//Episode 5 weapon collection that was recently released, the developers showcased Split in the backdrop. This caused the community to anticipate the return of Split in Episode 5 Act 3. Unfortunately, the theories were dismissed soon after.
Split is a defender-centric map as it features several choke points that one can easily hold and deny a push. However, the defenders aren't unbeatable, and the map can be conquered as attackers through smart utility usage.
While most in the community seem sad about the removal, a good percentage of it supports Riot's decision. Due to Split's inclination over the defenders, several players have expressed happiness over the map's removal from the pool.
Earlier, during the commencement of Episode 5 Act 1, the developers had stated that Split had been temporarily removed from queues owing to the map rotation dilemma. Multiple factors were taken into consideration for this decision. Jeff Landa, Community Lead, wrote:
"We looked at a bunch of different factors when making this decision. Player sentiment, time since release, past and future planned updates, what the map brings in terms of strategic variance, as well as where Pearl fits into all of it (to name a few). When we plugged all those numbers into the magic algorithm machine, we landed on Split."
However, the team also promised to bring it back in the future and tag in some tweaks if possible:
"We’re pretty sure it will be back sometime in the future though. Maybe even with some tweaks?"
The community sure looks forward to the return of Split with some refreshing changes, if possible.