It's time to debate the top five of an extremely competitive role this year: AD carry. Every year, it feels like one position brings a lineup of players that towers over the rest -- last year it was the top lane -- and 2016 is no exception coming into Worlds. AD carry superstars abound in this tournament with little deadweight at the bottom. You could earnestly argue for eight, nine, or even 10 players players being in the top five, and that's what makes the decision to cutting it to five so difficult.
Without further ado, let's see how long before you, dear reader, disagree with our picks.
5. Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng
Region: North America
Team: Team SoloMid
All right, this is probably already at the point where you'll disagree. Doublelift too high? Doublelift too low? While the superstar AD carry had a disastrous Worlds last year on Counter Logic Gaming, he's arguably had the best year of his career in 2016 with Team SoloMid. He's taken over a lot of the responsibilities in the shotcalling department, and his partnership with rookie Vincent "Biofrost" Wang in the bottom lane was a boon for TSM's run to recapturing the North American championship in Toronto last month.
4. Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen
Team: G2 Esports
There were two other League Championship Series AD carries who hovered around the same ranking as Doublelift: Zven of G2 and Konstantinos "Forg1ven" Tzortziou of H2k. Each has his own set of pros and cons in being considered over the other two for the top five. If we were to look at the year as a whole, Forg1ven loses out due to barely playing in the summer split and only rejoining H2k following the health concerns of starter Aleš "Freeze" Kněžínek.
Individually, in the newfound world of enforced 2v2 battles in the bottom lane, it'd be foolish to discount Forg1ven's mechanical prowess and pure bullying power. When compared in pairs to their bottom lane partners, Zven and Alfonso "mithy" Aguirre Rodriguez know each other's tendencies inside and out from playing together on Origen and now G2. Overall, Forg1ven hasn't been able to form that bond with his support due to insufficient time together on the Rift.
Zven, however, has been consistent since joining the EU LCS last summer as a rookie on Origen. Unlike Doublelift, he was fantastic at Worlds last year, and appeared to be a player who was wise and confident beyond his years as a professional. Irrespective of the team around him the past year and a half, his partnership with mithy has resulted in three domestic finals, a championship, and a semifinals at last year's Worlds. He's safe on the field, rarely dies needlessly and is dependable as the ace of Europe's strongest club.
3. Jian "Uzi" Zi-Hao
Team: Royal Never Give Up
Long time no see, Uzi. Both times the superstar Chinese AD carry has been to Worlds, he's made it to the Summoner's Cup Finals before losing to a South Korean team. Now on another Royal organization-branded team, Royal Never Give Up, this will be his third chance at returning home with the chalice in tow. If it weren't for a tepid end to the season for Royal, he'd probably be at the number 2 slot in this ranking behind his rival in China's League Pro League (whose identity is revealed below). Alas, the end of the split was a rocky one for the bottom lane of Uzi and Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong, the Korean import who coincidentally beat him in the finals of the 2014 World Championships.
In pure numbers, Royal gives the brunt of the resources to the bottom lane, and Uzi does what he does best: delete people from the map. He had 235 kills in only 40 regular-season games, and he only accounted for 11% of his team's deaths. His move from Qiao Gu back to the Royal organization in the summer has brought him once again to prominence after splitting time as a starter alongside Yu "HappyY" Rui. If RNG rediscovers its form in America for a difficult Group D, i.e. the one which includes Samsung Galaxy and Team SoloMid, it'll be off the back of its strength in the bottom lane.
2. Bae "Bang" Jun-sik
Region: South Korea
Team: SK Telecom T1
Mirroring Uzi, Bang is a player who had a strong regular season and tapered off come the postseason. So while the top player in this ranking was consistent throughout the summer split and playoffs as the undisputed best in his role, Bang and Uzi fit into a secondary tier for me, namely players good enough to compete with our #1 but had soft ends to the domestic year.
Those caveats aside, in the regular season it was the dynamic duo of Lee "Faker" Sang-heyok and Bang who carried an otherwise unspirited T1 team to a second-place finish in the standings. Neither top laner Lee "Duke" Ho-Seong nor especially the platoon in the jungle position had their best seasons, and it was on the shoulders of Faker and Bang to carry the team to another top-placing finish in the toughest league in the world. After going up 2-0 on KT Rolster in the summer playoffs semifinals, SKT T1 had its first real blunder of the year by getting reverse-swept by its rival. Still, it's foolish to cast Bang aside after winning the Summoner's Cup last year and becoming a prominent carrying force throughout the year.
1. Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu
Team: Edward Gaming
In the battle to make the top five, one contender stood head and shoulders above the squabble below. Deft was the sole center of attack early in the season when Lee "Scout" Ye-chan was getting his bearings, and he didn't let his team down once throughout a perfect season for EDG. The Chinese champion didn't fail in one best-of series the entire split, and Deft outshined Uzi in the playoffs when EDG systematically embarrassed RNG in one of the most one-sided finals you'll see coming out of a major region.
Deft is the master of navigating a teamfight, which is a skill he's been known for since his days on Samsung Blue in 2014. In a sea of chaos and uncertainty, Deft, standing at a comfortable distance from the massacre, knows when and how to exploit openings. Out of all of the world's players, his champion is the one most often seen at the end of nonsensical teamfight highlights standing alone with a quadrakill or pentakill to his name. After playing with fellow Samsung mid laners Bae "Dade" Eo-jin and Heo "Pawn" Won-seok for a majority of the past two years, it's been a change of pace on EDG with the introduction of Scout. Yet, that hasn't fazed the best AD carry in the world, and EDG has kept trucking along, putting together its best half a year in the organization's history.
In 2014, Deft wept on stage after falling to sister team Samsung White in the semifinals. In 2015, he cried in frustration after losing in the quarterfinals to Fnatic, blaming himself for the loss and saying all he wanted in the world was to win the Summoner's Cup. This is the year where Deft's tears could be ones of happiness and not of sorrow.