The beloved gamer, affectionately called “Puppy” by his legion of fans, had suffered health setbacks including arm pain and diabetes.
China’s most celebrated esports star is calling it quits.
In a message posted Wednesday to his Weibo microblog, 23-year-old League of Legends player Jian Zihao — better-known by his gaming handle Uzi — said that due to mounting health concerns, he would no longer be competing professionally.
The “continual high pressure, poor diet, and late nights” he faced as an esports athlete had led to him being diagnosed last year with type 2 diabetes, Jian explained. And despite undergoing a recovery program for the past six months, he said his mental state wasn’t what it used to be, he was still hampered by a hand injury, and doctors had warned him that his symptoms could worsen if he continued to compete.
Jian’s farewell post on Weibo has been liked more than 3.5 million times, with fans flooding the comments section to thank him for his eight years of competitive play. The abrupt retirement was particularly poignant because many of China’s millions of League of Legends players consider the multiplayer online battle arena game a cornerstone of their youth — to some, almost a religion — that is now fading amid the new pressures of modern life.
On Twitter, Jian wrote simply: “Uzi out,” along with a cute emoticon.
“Oh, my youth. I wish you all the best,” read a typical comment under Jian’s Weibo post. Meanwhile, a hashtag translating to “Uzi retires from service” has racked up 1.9 billion views on the site, and Nike’s official account posted a sentimental message that concluded, “Good Game, Uzi.”
Jian became a professional League of Legends player in 2012, joining a team called Royal Club at the age of 15. In each of the next two years, he reached the finals of the League of Legends World Championship, and has since held the coveted record for most kills in competitive play. Chinese fans refer to Jian by the affectionate nickname “Puppy,” but to his teammates, he was known as “Mad Dog” because of his bold and aggressive playing style.
Jian’s career was marked by exhilarating highs and crushing disappointments. Despite being regarded as one of the best League of Legends players in the world — perhaps second only to the South Korean pro Faker — he never won a world title. In 2018, following a season in which his team looked dominant, he played poorly in the quarterfinals at Worlds, earning wide criticism from fans. Earlier that year, however, Jian and a selection of other elite gamers won gold for Team China at the Asian Games — the first time esports were included as an event. Continue to read the full article here
– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.