Azir - Shifting Sand Discussion

First let me make a caveat statement: **This is not balance thread. I don't demand/think that Azir should be buffed/nerfed.** I am just curious about his current state and how his E fits into his kit and playstyle. I am not Azir main, I just play him on occasion just for fun. And I am bothered by his E - Shifting Sands since its knock up effect has been removed. Azir plays mostly as a long range mage, at least that's how he seems to me. He has great poke and W-Q has very good range. Plus he is rather squishy. Previously using E offensively made sense, since it had a built in CC element. Most of the time I however find myself using it defensively, since I feel like dashing towards enemy is too risky and shield plus damage it provides are nothing to write home about. All in all it seems a rather underwhelming skill to me, at least offensively. So I have some questions to Azir mains/experienced players. First, am I right maxing W before E? It just seems to me that more of that AS passive is more valuable. However it may be a reason for me finding going in with E so unappealing, if I had more points invested maybe the damage and shield could make it a worthy investment? Secondly, how often do you use E for damage? I feel like often enemies just walk away from soldiers, I usually use Q to get an AA or two more. Should I perhaps got for E first to get soldiers further? So, generally I guess how does Shifting Sands fit with Azir's gameplay?
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