As one of the few experienced rosters coming into ESL One Los Angeles Online without playing with a stand-in, the expectations for Team Liquid were high. But they have since bottomed out after a third straight loss.
Team Unique has shown flashes of brilliance throughout the tournament thus far, but taking down Liquid was their first win of the event.
Game one saw Liquid play a very standard game, running with a safe draft that had had a core Ember Spirit and Juggernaut, with Michael “miCKe” Vu being free to farm his Juggernaut early. Unique had a team that was built around a Morphling that looked like it might have a free game, but that wouldn’t be the case.
An early kill on the Morphling set back its farm, and by the late game, it alone wasn’t enough to overcome the damage-dealing team fight that Liquid built up. Unique couldn’t deal enough damage to take out the quick scaling Liquid team and ended up getting crushed 26-8 after a final push.
In game two, Liquid last picking a Slark in hopes that it would help open things up alongside their control heroes like Timbersaw and Earthshaker. But the supports on Unique’s side enabled their cores to dominate individual matchups, as Liquid dropped multiple interactions that slowly piled up.
Liquid were the first team to make a move, but miCKe’s Slark didn’t do much outside of takedown Unique’s Tusk. Meanwhile, Stanislav “633” Glushan was able to play a strong Pangolier that opened up multiple opportunities for his teammates to secure kills.
Max “qojqva” Bröcker and Samuel “Boxi” Svahn tried their best to keep their team in it, but the ineffectiveness of their team fight led to Unique rolling over them once they pushed with mega creeps.
Liquid had a much stronger team fight in game three, opting for a Phoenix, Storm Spirit, and last pick Faceless Void, but outside of a few good executions, Unique just outplayed them. A perfect Mars game from 633 led to Alexey “Zitraks” Ischenko playing one of the best Gyrocopters of the event.
His 20/4/6 was just the start as he totaled 54,000 hero damage and was responsible for killing four of Liquid’s five heroes three or more times. With that much firepower, Liquid were forced to act in the mid-game and put on a show with how well they played.
But that wasn’t enough to slow down the late-game scaling that Unique were already in the middle of, and the walls crashed down around 25 minutes in as Liquid began losing exchanges again.
A small lead grew into a massive 11,000 net worth advantage over the span of five minutes and Unique didn’t look back as they closed out the series with a 2-1 win. Liquid is now the only team without a win in either group and is dangerously close from being eliminated from playoff contention.
This win puts Unique in a tie for fifth place with Alliance, just one game out of the fourth-place playoff spot being held by Natus Vincere. They will look to break the tie with Alliance on April 7, when they play as the final match of the day.