With the Ardent Censer being so powerful in the current meta, the role of AD carries has been more critical to the game than ever. All AD Carry players, from Jun-sik “Bang” Bae, Jong-in “PraY” Kim, and Jae-hyuk “Ruler” Park of Korea to Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi of C9, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson of Fnatic, and Zi-hao “Uzi” Jian of RNG, fiercely competed in LoL World Championship as representatives of each region.
Among the outstanding players mentioned above, Uzi of RNG is arguably the one that is getting the most attention. After making his debut in 2013 he set a record of two consecutive advancements to finals in LPL and let his name be known. He is also the first to achieve 1,500 kills in LPL and 260 kills in Worlds.
Even within this Worlds only, Uzi has been proving himself to be one of the best players in the world. He has been showing off his full potential in bot lane, where all the party has been throughout Worlds because of the ardent censer meta. In the group stage he won bot lane in both games against Ruler and Yong-in “CoreJJ” Cho of Samsung Galaxy, and in quarterfinals, he made 19 kills during a game against Fnatic and showed the world what a top player in LPL looks like.
However, it is not out of pure talent only that Uzi got to where he stands right now. He always learned from the players better than him, and LCK has always been his guideline to learn off. Uzi when he was playing in OMG, complaining to the support players of his team that they “can’t play like Korean supporters” is a well-known story.
▣Mission: Avoid Uzi
Uzi the playmaker, whom Korean teams look out for the most
There has always been teams and players who pose threat to Korean teams during Worlds. The most watched out among them is Uzi, because his powerful mechanics make early bot laning phase very hard for his opponents. It is not surprising that some Korean coaching staffs warn their players, not to lane 1v1 against Uzi. They are looking out for him because he has such amazing mechanics and shows intelligent plays.
In addition to his past plays, even in this Worlds Uzi has punched Samsung Galaxy in the face. He took revenge his previous defeat against Ruler and CoreJJ from last year. RNG generally focuses on Uzi getting ahead in bot lane early game, and SSG failed to stop Uzi’s growth before ganking phase this time.
Overall, Uzi does have an easy early game because of his jungler Mlxg and midlaner Xiaohu, who usually have leads early on. However, even without his teammates, he manages to dominate the rift, such as when he played as Twitch in a game against G2 during the group stage. His intelligent and bold performances were well-shown in the game.
“Sometimes his laning abilities or reflexes are shocking,” commented Coach Gwan-hyung Lee of RNG in regards to Uzi, “there is something unique and incomparable about how he positions himself during fights.” Other Korean coaching staffs participating in this Worlds also did not hold back compliments about him, commenting that “he has always been very good, but this year he is really showing what the best ADC would look like.”
Sehyung “Mata” Cho of KT, who has played in the same team as Uzi before, added to the compliments that “he is so good that he can come play in LCK and would blend right in,” and that “his lane management skills and damage calculations are impeccable, and I learned a lot from it too.” Furthermore, his former coaching staffs said that “his plays are as intelligent as his mechanics are good. He comments even on his supports’ item builds and takes a strong lead in laning phase. His calculations are so fast that even other professional players can’t catch up easily.”
Uzi the genius, but his pride held him down
While such a great player with such positive comments, he too had a weakness – mind control. It is the one other thing that all his teammates and coaching staffs can agree on. From champion selection to personal practices, he always has his own stubborn way. Ever since 2013 Uzi prefers auto attack based or carry champions. In 2015 and 16 when he had performance slumps, he refused to play the champions good for the meta such as Ezreal because “that would make him the same as any other players.”
Because of such stubborn personality that causes conflicts within the team, he was always known as someone who “has the ability to, but still can’t win.” Up to this point, he has been the runner-up twice in Worlds and three times in LPL. Even within this year, he had to be benched for a while as a punishment from the team for destroying teamwork.
At the time, Uzi had refused to complete his team’s training schedules, because he believed that “it is meaningless if the practice is not against Korean teams.” He is actually spotted quite often in Korean servers, due to his stubborn rule of having to practice with Korean players. This issue came to an end only when the owner of the team directly told the staffs to bench Uzi as a punishment.
However, RNG felt his absence keenly. It was almost impossible to build a new bottom duo with Ming, the inexperienced, rookie support, and their team fights were out of control as the shot caller is not playing, thus failing to win fights late game. Ming could not efficiently take advantage of Mlxg and Xiaohu’s early game lead either.
Such experience is almost a routine for every team that recruits Uzi. The result has always been his coming back to regulars. In his OMG days, he had once refused to play in the regular split matches due to problems with his teammates. When the team’s performances plummeted as a result, he was put back into the entry towards the end of the season, and proved to everyone that he is special indeed.
▣Uzi Stands at a Crossroad
Uzi has evolved into a team player
With time, some changes took place in Uzi. The so-called “Uzi’s Curse” of not winning first place, despite being showered with attention and love from across China, became an old story. With the ardent censer dominating the meta, Uzi could finally play his preferred champions and bring about a perfect synergy with it.
As much as his team focuses on him getting big during the game, Uzi takes a rather safe and passive position early game. Unlike his previous days, he does not scold and complains to his supporters as much anymore. It is also hard to see him play champions like Tristana or Twitch to use mobility or invisibility skills and assassinate the enemy champions.
His bold movements that catch the enemies off guard are still there, but he plays so just enough so that he can avoid any situations threatening to him. His less excessive plays took some burden off his teammates’ shoulders. He also does not go into meltdown and give up on the game even if the game is not going too well. In one group stage game where RNG lost against G2 eSports, he still held out in lane and continued to threaten the enemies despite the bottom duo getting focused on and killed continuously.
When LPL teams going to Worlds were first announced this year, not many people believed that RNG is the strongest team in China – but RNG turned the tables completely as Worlds began. They are reminded of Uzi’s presence in LPL, and the community is now cheering wholeheartedly for him. At the center of attention from not only Korea and China, but all over the world – THIS, now, is where Uzi stands.