The 2016 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational finished Sunday, putting an end to the Spring competitive season. But Summer's just around the corner, starting with China's LPL season on May 26. And one of China's best teams has made a pretty big move.
Royal Never Give Up, China's representative at MSI, had a great showing in the tournament, even with a 3-1 exit to SK Telecom T1 in the semifinal round. After a poor Worlds for the region and a general downswing for the LPL in competitive play, RNG went 8-2 in the round robin stage, beating SKT and looking like the best team in the field.
Now, RNG has added another weapon to its impressive roster: former Royal, QG Reapers and OMG AD Carry Uzi will replace wuxx, announced in a video on Weibo Sunday.
A runner-up at Season 3 Worlds with Royal Club as a 16-year-old prospect, Uzi was the first player to play in two World finals, both with Royal Club (and both losses). The first time, he lost to SKT and Faker. The second time around, he lost to Samsung White in the finals. Samsung White's support at the time, Mata, will now be Uzi's partner in the bottom lane with RNG.
After RNG lost to SKT in the MSI semifinals, Mata told Chinese press* he wanted the exact same RNG team for the LPL next split, with the exception of Uzi at AD Carry. A day later, it happened.
Kelsey Moser has an excellent piece about Uzi's tumultuous career over at The Score. Here's one passage, about his path since leaving Royal Club after the 2014 season.
Famously, Pak Kan "Tabe" Wong temporarily retired in March 2013 partly to escape Uzi's demanding nature. Likewise, explosive personalities clashed on Oh My God after Uzi joined the team at the end of 2014. But Uzi has also been unlucky — he is the only pro that played for both teams that forfeited the LPL playoffs, and both times it was due to internal conflicts that didn't involve him.
"I would like to win this time," Uzi said in an interview this spring, "because I haven't won yet."
Will Uzi and Mata be enough for RNG to become the team that finally takes down SKT? We can only hope to see the two teams match up in October in North America, but RNG has to get through the LPL season first.
*image via The Score