One of the all time greats has played his last professional match on Summoner’s Rift. Chinese ADC Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao has decided to retire from League of Legends, citing injuries as one of the main reasons for the decision. We don’t often consider injuries as a major part of esports, but they’re more common than you’d think. As the 23 year old former Worlds finalist retires from League of Legends, let’s take a look back at one of the all time great careers in esports.
Rise to prominence in the LPL
Uzi’s career began all the way back in 2012, when he was just 15 years old. He broke into the chinese region playing on Royal Club, and quickly made a name for himself as a great ADC. His style of play was, at the time, absurdly aggressive for a non-North American. Nevertheless, his success changed how the role would be viewed around the world. Indeed, much of how we think of the ADC role today can be traced back to Uzi.
His biggest successes in the early years came in seasons 3 and 4, where his team finished second at Worlds. They were swept out of the 2013 finals by Faker’s SKT. In 2014, they also finished second after dropping a 3-1 final series against Samsung Galaxy White.
The 2020 season left a lot of question marks surrounding Uzi. His doctors were advising him to rest, and the question of whether he was going to re-sign with RNG was looming. As of this week, he’s decided to retire from League of Legends, citing poor health and injuries. In addition to numerous hand, arm, and shoulder injuries, he’s struggling with obesity and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
During an interview with Nike, he was quoted as saying, “One time I went to the hospital for a check-up and the doctor said my arms are similar to that of a 40 to 50-year-old. I often feel like my legs have no strength. The lower part of the body feels like it’s not mine.” We don’t often think much about injuries in esports, but the continued wear on the hands and arms is something all esports athletes eventually have to contend with.
In addition, long hours of practice have lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. The end result has been a struggle with obesity and now a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. As he moves into retirement, he’ll look to get his body and mind healthy again.
What will his legacy be?
Despite being widely regarded as one of the best to ever play, Uzi retires having never won the World Championship. He has won 3 LPL Splits, a Mid-Season Invitational, and an Asian Games. However, League’s biggest prize eludes him. It’s a good reminder that winning a World Championship is hard. League of Legends is one of the longest running major esports ever, and only 7 teams have ever won it.
But Uzi will be remembered for more than just his win-loss record or his K/D/A ratio. Don’t get me wrong, those are superb stats. However, his brand deal with Nike helped usher in a new era of sponsorship for esports athletes. And more importantly, he revolutionized the way we think of the ADC role world wide. A guy could do worse. Best of luck Uzi, in whatever you choose to do next.
Lead image courtesy of Riot Games.