There’s a reason Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao is one of the most legendary League of Legends players of all time. Sure, he hasn’t won Worlds. Sure, he had a somewhat early retirement that felt like his career was being cut short too early. But when Bilibili Gaming picked up Uzi for the 2022 LPL season, the hype diligently followed.
Uzi is a player whose legacy isn’t made up of titles and big accomplishments. It’s based around how he plays, his aggression, and his ability to consistently push past his limits when it matters most.
However, the LPL is a very different league than it was during Uzi’s heyday. The bot lane is one of the most competitive roles in the LPL and even low-tier teams have players that can hard-carry games. With bot lane focused the current meta is, Uzi’s in a spot to steal the spotlight.
And Uzi’s been missing in action.
Instead, Chiu “Doggo” Tzu-Chuan’s been playing in Uzi’s place on BLG, and he’s been doing very well. In his two 2021 international appearances, Doggo showed just how strong he is in comparison to even the world’s best ADCs. When it comes to BLG, the LPL, and the meta, however, is he really better than his storied teammate?
Historically, Uzi doesn’t go on stage until the Lunar New Year has come and gone. It’s tradition for him at this point, and he didn’t make his return until February this year, in a match against Invictus Gaming. After Doggo got focused by the enemy team in game 1, BLG made the call to swap in Uzi. And it was a hell of a way to return to the LPL.
Turns out, Uzi looks pretty good in a meta where focusing bot lane is a very common and effective strategy. It’s hard to be surprised by his 11/4/17 performance considering who he is and how he created his legend. But he wasn’t able to bring home the set.
IG were successful when they decided to focus on the rest of the map rather than shutting down Uzi, whose mechanics will only get him so far if the gold gap is too big. On top of that, iG’s Zhang “Yuekai” Yue-Kai picked Akali in order to get into the backline and shut out Uzi, even in the case that he got ahead. Uzi’s good, but he’s so good that it’s hard to imagine any team playing in a way that isn’t focused around him.
You don’t start Uzi for Ziggs duty or to have him play weakside. You start Uzi to put him in a place to carry. And that’s the problem.
The next generation
Doggo is a very different player from Uzi. Uzi is all about constant aggression. Even in when his opponent is ahead, he will do his best to win the fight through pure mechanical skill and latent aggression. Doggo is more about taking fights slow, hitting from a distance, and focusing on objectives. Even in the suffocating Jinx-Aphelios trade meta, Doggo has managed to maintain his team-focused playstyle. He constantly rotates for Drakes, early Heralds, and skirmishes without ever letting his CS fall too far behind, all while keeping himself alive and playing in a very controlled way.
Taking a look at game 3 of BLG vs. Team WE, Doggo’s Aphelios seems to be about even with the enemy Jinx. Slashlines are pretty even across the board, with BLG’s Chen “Breathe” Chen being pretty far behind the opposing Akali. But there’s a lot more to be learned from looking at the total gold and objectives taken.
BLG were not only ahead by more than 4K gold, but they also were already on Soul Point before the 20 minute mark, and they had taken three towers from WE. Additionally, they kept Yu “Buibui” Lei-Xin’s Hullbreaker Akali (because yes, Hullbreaker is that busted) from splitting towers and trying to even out the gold with objective bounties. BLG are an overall better team with Doggo on it, even if Uzi is an overall better performing player.
Let’s take a look at how these two teamfight. Considering how popular Jinx is right now, it’s pretty easy to find recent games where both these players are piloting the same Champion and playing in a very different way.
Starting with Uzi, you can see his raw aggression on display. Even with Breathe getting solo killed before this jungle skirmish, Uzi managed to return two kills before going down himself. But should he have gone in at all? Was forcing this fight a good play? It was pretty much impossible for Uzi to live through this fight at the end of the day, and it’s very likely that BLG would have been much better off letting Breathe die and keeping themselves alive.
Meanwhile, Doggo has a much more controlled playstyle. He’s excellent at using the range of meta ADC picks to his advantage, and BLG seem much better at creating a frontline for Doggo than they are at supporting Uzi’s trademark all-in aggression. Additionally, Doggo’s ability to work around the fight and play at a comfortable range allowed him to escape where Uzi probably would have committed to the fight and died for it.
This isn’t an argument of which player is better overall, it’s an argument of which player is the better ADC for BLG. Both players have their clear merits, but Doggo’s playstyle really ties BLG together whereas Uzi always seems to be the star of the show. Uzi on BLG feels eerily similar to Martin “Rekkles” Larsson’s 2021 run on G2: Great ADC put on a great team with less than stellar results. Finding good players is one thing, but finding good players whose playstyles and personalities blend together is a challenge all its own.
It’d be surprising to see Uzi start over Doggo any time soon. While it’s a shame to have Uzi on the bench so soon after he came out of retirement, it seems like BLG are making the right choice here by keeping Doggo on their starting roster.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.