Uzi, the perennial runner-up looked to finally don his rightful crown.
Xiaohu, China’s brightest young star, aspired to take down the God of League of Legends, and usurp Faker. These were just a handful of the many storylines of RNG’s carries. Since Xiaohu’s rise to national stardom, and Uzi arrival to RNG, the two critical damage-dealers have received the bulk of media attention.
However, a different member of the team defined their semifinal series against SKT. In the Shanghai arena, Mlxg was the key difference between a Chinese final and another waste of an opportunity.
Even more than a traditional carry like Mlxg’s performance directly correlated with that of his team’s this series. In game 1, his Sejuani was crucial in shutting down the Gangplank that was so critical to SKT’s comp.
His early top lane ganks shut down Huni’s impact early on, and often forced him to use his TP and global ultimate in self-defense. This, in-turn, shut down Huni’s carry threat, while simultaneously relieving pressure on the bot side of the map.
With the Gangplank global temporarily neutralized, and his overall power waning, SKT’s ardentless Tristana faced increasing pressure to put the team on her back. While Mlxg’s early game contributions centered around the top lane, they also sparked a Twitch lead that won the game.
However, Mlxg’s positive effects were just as prevalent as his negative ones. In game five, Mlxg was a major liability for Royal Never Give Up. Despite picking a highly aggressive champion, his impact was minor at best. Throughout the entire early game, he contributed virtually nothing, simply allowing Uzi to fall farther behind his winning lane opponent.
In the end, his lack of early game impact was a primary reason for their series loss. Without any pressure to work against, SKT simply played to their better scaling team comp. With a near guaranteed fight win every time due to far superior power spikes, SKT had a free path to the Worlds championship.
Since joining the team, Mlxg’s volatility has always been an issue. For many fans, the greatest impression of Mlxg was at MSI 2016. There, he outperformed nearly every other team in the event, carrying RNG to a shocking group stage win over such teams as SK Telecom and Flash Wolves.
However, this was merely a high point in his endless series of peaks and troughs. Mlxg’s career has been marred by inconsistency since the very beginning. For RNG to succeed on the Worlds stage, they must either fix his problem, or bring in someone without such vulnerabilities.
Mlxg is an X factor in the worst kind of way. Some players are praised for their ability to turn a game in their team’s favor in an instant singlehandedly. Mlxg always changes the game, but often not for the better. RNG cannot keep betting their games on a subpar player.
Xiaohu and Uzi are wasting their talent alongisde a jungler who is not able to consistently utilize their abilities in a positive way. Even if his carries go off, Mlxg often cannot help but lose the game. This was the case in game 4, when, in a favorable position, Mlxg got caught near Nashor pit, and gave up a free Baron to the opposing team. If not for this simple mistake, RNG could have continued their winning stride, and perhaps defeated the reigning champions.
At this point, Mlxg has become a serious threat to the stability of RNG. Every single member of the team has stepped up their consistency this year. Uzi became more relaxed in lane, able to perform without forcing the team to rely solely on him.
This has made him a much more dangerous and versatile threat. Xiaohu has made major improvements in a general sense, joining Uzi as a top-tier international carry to lead the team. LetMe and ming may not receive as much focus, but they do their jobs well on a day-in, day-out basis.
Mlxg is the weak link among this thread of players. If RNG want to take the next step in their franchise history, Mlxg has to go.