Team Unique, formerly known as Gentlemen, have performed better than most expected at ESL One Los Angeles. Still, not many would have picked them to upset ppd and Ninjas in Pyjamas.
CIS veteran Ivan “VANSKOR” Skorokhod and his team secured a 2-1 win even after parting with position four mainstay Evgeniy “Chuvash” Makarov before today’s matches. Unique brought in former FlyToMoon player Danil “illusion” Volchan To stand-in and he immediately went to work with a solid Pangolier game that helped set up total map control for his team.
A full team wipe 13 minutes in gave Unique the lead and it never fully swung back to NiP despite a few good moments from ppd and Evgeniy “Blizzy” Ree. The veteran EU roster hung in for a long time and held the kill advantage, but their final hold wasn’t enough as Unique pushed NiP back into the fountain and locked down the throne.
Though Unique was able to pick up the Tusk again and had a strong meta draft, NiP seemed to have the edge despite picking up an Earthshaker, which hasn’t performed well at all during the tournament. It really came down to the core game of Phantom Lancer and Nature’s Prophet, which just edged out the Weaver and Death Prophet on the other side.
The entire game was competitive, with Unique holding a lead for a large portion after a massive killing spree that spanned 10 minutes in the middle of the game. That lead peaked at 18,000 following a big team fight where Unique caught all of NiP and forced diebacks on several heroes, including ppd’s Batrider as Alexey “Zitraks” Ischenko went Godlike.
However, a lack of information on Unique’s side led to the team deciding to take Roshan instead of pushing for the throne since they didn’t know exactly what heroes didn’t have buyback. This ended up being a costly move as NiP was able to regroup and slowly take over the game.
NiP walked up to the high ground 10 minutes later, knocked on the front door, and then won the last team fight to end the game.
The final draft was the usual mix of meta and comfort, but NiP didn’t ban out the Keeper of the Light, giving Unique a KotL and Tusk backline to back up a Death Prophet. A last pick Meepo for Nikita “Daxak” Kuzmin was the big play for NiP as both sides went into the deciding match.
Unique won an early fight in the Rosh Pit and walked the game home from there as they were dealing too much damage for NiP to sustain during any of the fights.
NiP did an incredible job holding out against the dominating might of Unique’s team fight, but there was only so much they could do after spending all of their resources to push them back. Unique just dove right back in, clearing out the remaining structures in NiP’s base before wiping them and taking the series.
Unique now moves ahead of NiP and Natus Vincere in the total standings for Group B, having one more win than them despite all three teams having a 2-3 series record. With two series left, if Unique can beat one of Chicken Fighters or Team Secret, they have a good shot at making the playoffs.