Until Icebox was introduced, most of Valorant’s maps were Defender favored. The first four maps introduced all had a similar design philosophy with slight variation. Icebox, however, takes the rules the other maps play by and throws them out the window.
Valorant’s other maps have defined lanes. If Attackers want to get to a bomb site, they have to path through these “lanes.” Much of Valorant’s gameplay on Defense is identifying where the enemy team is pushing from and rotating over. Attackers being forced through a defined, narrow path creates a chokepoint. Icebox has no real chokepoints, loosely defined lanes, and a map that’s big enough to make rotating as a Defender take a long time. This difference might be easier to visualize than it is to explain.
There’s clear, defined pathing. Pushing from B Main directly into B site funnels Attackers down a narrow, exposed corridor. Brute forcing through B Main, but it usually requires good ability usage and coordination with your teammates. Going through Mid will force you to get through anyone who might be watching Mid, or, once Attackers get past Mid, Defenders can hold down B Heaven and cut off any Attackers trying to get through. Attackers can rotate if pushing B doesn’t work, but let’s just say they have to go B site for the sake of comparison.
Here’s what pushing B site on Icebox looks like:
In comparison to pushing B site on Split, Icebox gives more than double the amount of possible paths to take. Our only chokepoints are in mid, and they don’t share a sightline due to Tube being so insulated from the rest of the map. Defending Green’s somewhat narrow pathing is possible, but it’s a risky move. Players can hide under the trailer that lies in the middle of Green, and getting shot by someone being sneaky under that trailer is pretty common for anyone trying to make a chokepoint out of the entrance to B site.
In addition, this map doesn’t do Icebox’s verticality justice. If Attackers take Tube, they gain a height advantage and the ability to see most of B site. The bomb can be planted either on the ground or in the crate attached to the nearby building’s second story. Icebox’s A site mirrors this multitude of options, making both sites a viable option and giving them the same set of advantages for the Attacking squad.
Run It Down
All of these differences culminate to give Attackers a distinct advantage on Icebox that separates it from the other maps in Valorant: It’s rare that Attackers have to rotate away from a push. Sending everyone to one bombsite is the way to go most of the time. This makes Attacking much easier to coordinate than trying to split your team between two objectives or rotating to a different bomb site.
Additionally, in the amount of time it takes for a Defender to rotate from one bomb site to the other, an Attacking squad can already have the bomb on-site. Defenders don’t have too much choice other than to cover most options, and Icebox has so many that it’s easy for a Defending squad to get spread thin. All that said, the gap between win rates on Icebox isn’t nearly as wide as some of Valorant’s heavily defender-favored maps.
It’s safe to assume that Riot tried to make a map that favors Attackers after looking at how Defender-biased their maps are. In fact, we've written about some of the advantages Defenders have. It’s clear that Riot is trying to mix things up and find a way to get a map that’s close to Haven balance-wise. In all fairness, Icebox is the first map in Valorant that favors Attackers. Riot succeeded if breaking up their Defense-biased map lineup was the goal. It’s just hard to say if that goal is worth how frustrating it can be to mount a successful Defense on Icebox.